In May 2011, after four years of life on McNutt's Island, we moved to Montreal. This blog remains, though, as a (sort of) daily record of our time on the island, and a winding path for anyone who would like to meander about among its magical places. For additional perspectives and insights I recommend Greg's book, Island Year: Finding Nova Scotia (2010), and my Bowl of Light (2012). I'll continue to post once in a while. If you do want to read this blog, one option would be to begin at the beginning of it (which is, as we all know, in blog-world, at the end), and read forward, concluding with the most recent entry. It's a journal, really, so it does makes more sense if you read it that way. But, you know, read it any way you like.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

first day with chickens and goats

This morning I heard the first crow of the rooster at about 5:15. What an excellent sound. Chevron is very good at crowing. Unlike some roosters I have known, he did not crow all night long, expecting the sun to come up early as a result. He knows that the world does not spin at his beck and call. Instead, he crowed as the sky was beginning to lighten. He is that rare thing, a modest rooster, but diligent in his responsibilities.

I lay in bed and rehearsed my own new responsibilities. I wished they were as familiar to me as Chevron's are to him. But I told myself I would just have to bumble and stumble my way through them a few times and they would become easier. I got up and got the right amount of feed for Molly out of the shed, then a warm, damp cloth and the milk pail, and I was ready to go with my first ever milking. It is a lovely thing to be on the cusp of a new life experience.

Molly came from the shed willingly not out of any affection for me -- we are barely acquaintances yet -- but because of the feed I put in the trough of her milking stand. After she got herself on the platform I closed the wooden bars that keep her head forward and felt quite proud of myself. I washed her teats and udder with the warm damp cloth and felt that everything was going smoothly.

Then I started milking. But nothing came out. Not even a first tiny drop. Her teats seemed full but then they deflated like little balloons when I tried to get a stream of milk. I must have been using my fingers all wrong, even though it seemed so easy when we were watching Mary yesterday and trying it ourselves. Now I could tell that Molly knew I was no Mary. After much futile effort I decided to ask for a second opinion. But Greg couldn't get a thing going, either. Meanwhile Molly, who is known for her placid nature, had become a bit annoyed with our awkward attempts. It is a humbling thing to be in the midst of a new life experience.

So we let her off the milking stand and eventually her kid, Heidi, began nursing. Heidi is the designated back-up plan for milking. She's as good at nursing as Chevron is at crowing. And I, a stranger who peers longingly over the farm fence, will try to breach that border again tomorrow.

Next door, in Egg Town, the hens laid six eggs yesterday. They were catching up with their laying, like stacked airplanes finally cleared for landing, all coming down one after the other. But then this morning there were none, at least not at six o'clock. I think they are laid back hens who lay eggs whenever they feel inspired and not according to some task-master's time clock.

The weather will be cool and blustery and rainy all day. The goats seem content to lie about inside their new dwelling and wander into the yard to butt each other and jump about in a subdued sort of way. The hens are milling about in their little pen, going first up the stairs then down again then back up, then back down, while Chevron wards off any possible danger by making his scary fierce sounds.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

borrowed goats and chickens

Mary and Leroy d'Entremont, the owners of the island's sheep, are going to Ontario for the sheep dog trials. They'll be away for about two weeks altogether. So, they said, how would you like to keep our chickens and goats for us while we're away? Well, we said, if you think we can do it, we will!

So this morning they pulled up to the dock in their lobster boat, bringing: Mary's three goats, Molly, Heidi and Gia; a crate containing nine hens (nameless) and one rooster, name of Chevron; a milking stand for Molly; meters and meters of electric fence and all the various bits and pieces that go along with that; milking pail, strainer, and cheesecloth; two bales of hay; two bales of wood shavings; feed for the goats; feed for the chickens; two troughs and two water pails for the goats; a chicken feeder and a water system for the chickens; and an old broom. Whew! I think that's all.

Mary and Leroy had to get back to Pubnico for Anna's birthday party, so they set up the electric fence and we got quick lessons in milking and instructions about feeding and watering everybody and keeping their areas clean, what to do in case of various things going wrong, and what to expect generally. Don't worry, they told us. You'll get the hang of it. And Mary said, if you need to get another lesson in milking there's bound to be a video on YouTube.

Neither one of us has ever milked anything before in our lives. We have not been around farm animals at all. I did have the luck to have grandparents who kept chickens in their backyard in downtown Little Rock Arkansas back when that was a normal thing to do. So I at least had the child's view of keeping chickens, cleaning out the hen house and gathering eggs. Greg spent some brief and magical time on a farm in Ohio as a young man. But mostly, anything remotely farm-like was a foreign country to us.

But somehow, even though we've never done it before and it seemed so daunting yesterday, this afternoon it seems almost as if the goats and the chickens have been here all along. Sometimes that's simply the difference between the concept and the practical reality. It's also because of the way Mary and Leroy approached the whole thing. They just think we can do it (and gave us everything we need to succeed) and so we will. They want us to have fun, and I'm pretty sure we will be doing that.

In May Greg set about to build our chicken coop, in case we ever actually did get chickens. Our imaginary chickens, I called them then. Now, though borrowed, they are not imaginary any more.
A view of the coop from beneath an apple tree. Notice the ladder into the roost and laying boxes. This coop is made of locally recycled screens and lumber.
These are real chickens, not imaginary. They settled down quite nicely, right away.
A clever hen walking upstairs to lay an egg. So far today I have gathered five eggs.
For some reason Chevron has decided he needs to guard the laying boxes. He looks fierce but Mary says he is a sweetie.
A view of the coop from the front.
Molly on her milking stand. Leroy made the stand. It's a beautiful rig as they say around here.
Heidi and Gia are checking out their new digs. Greg will be completing their new digs while they are still getting settled.

Friday, July 23, 2010

picking peas

I pick a cup or so of sugar snap peas every morning now, and every morning the pea vines have gotten taller. Now they arch beyond the trellis, which is five feet high. To reach the highest pods tomorrow, I'll need to get on a rickety chair -- a derelict wooden one that's lost its back and is spending its last days waiting to be of some use in the garden. When I snap a pod dangling above my head, the fine early morning mist that still hangs about the vine and leaves showers down on my face, an island version of a beauty treatment in more ways than one.

I wasn't thinking when I decided to put the trellis along the outer edge of a bed. The peas are easy to harvest from that side, but if I want to reach the ones that hang enticingly at the centre of the trellis on the inside, and I do, I have to teeter on the wooden frame of the raised bed, stretch over two or three feet, steady myself with one hand along the trellis frame, and then try to pick each of those peas -- which are clearly the very best of the lot -- with only one hand. A weird new yoga pose. Although you really do need two hands to pick snap peas. So it's far better if you can do it while standing well-balanced on the earth on your two feet. I'd be standing on chard if I tried that. It's what you could call a design flaw.

This western side of the island has such high winds that the trellises blew over during the garden's first summer. We lost the last of the peas that year. After that Greg sank the posts into concrete to keep them upright through the whole season. So where they are is where they will be: what you could call a permanent design flaw.

I'm bringing all sorts of things into the house these days besides the peas: huge baskets of collards and turnip greens, chard, kale, curly lime-coloured mustard, great piles of lettuce. I can vaguely remember all the work that went into this year's garden -- the raised beds, the winter seaweed, the spring digging, the compost. But the pea trellis is not the only design flaw. Some of the raised beds are too wide. It's a big stretch to reach into the middle to cut greens or pull weeds. My early miscalculations put me in awkward positions every day.

But there are essential elements that have nothing to do with either how hard I've worked or how many mistakes I've made: the balance of sun and rain, the pace at which summer has unfolded here on the island, the warmth of the season. Except for the watering, I have little power over any of that. So when I'm picking the peas or cutting the collards my basic position is amazed.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

signing and reading Island Year

Greg will be signing copies of Island Year: Finding Nova Scotia and reading a few chapters at two places this weekend:

On Friday (July 23), at 2:00 pm, he'll be at Cape Forchu Lighthouse in Yarmouth for Lighthouse Day, which is a part of Yarmouth's annual Seafest celebration.

Prescott House Museum and Garden
On Sunday (July 25), also at 2:00 pm, he'll be at Prescott House Museum in Starr's Point, near Wolfville.

Both events are free, and we really, really hope you can be there. Some of this blog's readers would have to get on a magic carpet to do that, though.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

shadows and sun

The leaves of the oak tree cast dancing shadows against the house.It's performance art, an ensemble convergence of wind, sun, tree and old clapboard.
A brief afternoon event, unscheduled and unannounced.
You just had to happen to be passing by if you wanted to catch it.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

good-bye, rams

The rams were peacefully lounging about in the lower orchard this morning when Mary and Leroy came to get them. They gave up with only token resistance. Now at last they'll get rid of those hot wool coats they've been wearing all summer.At the end of the day they'll be going off to Ram Island, a well-earned vacation break after all their hard work here on McNutt's. We thought about throwing a going-away party for them yesterday, but a) they hadn't yet heard they were leaving and b) we didn't think they'd really enjoy a party. They are not party types.
So instead I leaned against the cart and talked to them while they lay panting in the shade of the log palace. I told them that I hoped they would be safe and happy on Ram Island, and that I hoped they would come back here in December. I told Bertie and Balzac and The Major that they had been very kind to young Fred.
I told them that I would miss them. And I will. They are comical and lovable fellows.

Monday, July 19, 2010

still waters

Here are a few more photos from a couple of days ago when I rowed out into a still water cove. Ryan at Annapolis Royal Heritage (a lovely blog) posted some photos recently of reflecting water. His discerning eye helped me to realize what I was seeing in this moment. Cove as mirror.
A drowned forest of sorts.
A wise grandfather rock gazes at his reflection and thinks deep geological thoughts.
The fish would be right at home in an upside down fish house.

If you are very hot today I hope these pictures will help you feel cooler.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

the lightkeeper's tale, part one

Alexander Hood Cocken was born in Shelburne after his parents came here in 1783 on the Loyalist tide. His father, Alexander Cocken, was one of the Port Roseway Associates, that group of Loyalists who organized themselves in New York, intending to get the best deal they could in Nova Scotia by negotiating as a body. Alas, there turned out to be not that much to negotiate about.

Sometimes we forget how traumatic things must have been for the people who arrived on the shore of Port Roseway in 1783. They had lost whatever it was they had in America, though at first they hoped to somehow get back what they had lost, or be compensated for it. Inconceivably for them, England had lost the war. And now England was cutting them loose. The Crown, reeling from its costly defeat, was not appreciative of their great sacrifices and failed to share their vision of a great city carved out of wilderness. Soon enough it became clear that Shelburne would not after all replace Halifax as the North American center of the English empire. Most of the refugees left this foggy, ice-bound shore as soon as they could manage it.

But some adapted, and stayed, and among them were Alexander Cocken and his wife Catherine. Alexander the father was a Scot, born in Glasgow, a mariner. His wife Catherine was a New Englander, from Massachusetts.

Alexander and Catherine had five children, and the oldest was Alexander the son. He was christened at Christ Church Shelburne in 1787, before the permanent church was even built. Of the five Cocken children christened, it's likely that only he and his two sisters lived to adulthood, and that his two younger brothers died early, since nothing more is known of them except their christenings. Their mother died in 1799, when Alexander was twelve and his sisters were five years old and an infant.

The lighthouse on McNutt's was completed in 1790, and actually lit in 1792. Cocken had already been appointed lightkeeper, and he was responsible for the building materials needed for the light and the various necessary buildings and the house for the keeper's family.

The Cocken family and all their possessions were taken out to the island in late 1789, once they had a place to live. The Archives has a bill for their transport. They moved into the new house out there at the southern end of McNutt's Island. If we remember the letter that the elder Alexander wrote in 1801 about the absence of a road across the island, maybe we can imagine how isolated and difficult life was for a family living in that harsh, exposed place.

The young Alexander was a toddler when the family moved into its new house on the wind-swept cape, surrounded on three sides by ocean waves pounding against rocky cliffs. This was a difficult time for the family. Between 1790 and 1793 his father, the first lightkeeper, wrote a series of petitions to the House of Assembly, pleading that he might be paid the salary owed to him. In a 1790 petition he describes his family as large. But in 1792 he calls his family small. Probably the two younger boys, christened in 1788 and 1789, had died by 1792, when his family has become "small." In an escalating voice of desperation, the elder Cocken writes that he faces financial ruin because his salary has not been paid and his indebtedness for the basic necessities of life so great. In his earliest years, then, young Alexander experienced the death of his brothers and the grief of his parents, as well as financial anxiety and the harsh conditions of the family's isolated and lonely life.

After a few years the elder Cocken's condition of employment changed. He was given an annual contract, out of which he was expected to manage the lighthouse, but he was not expected to actually live there full time. Maybe the Cocken family moved back to Shelburne or to one of the villages along the western shore during the winter months then, leaving an assistant to care for the light. Maybe these years were easier ones for the family. Certainly they were less isolated.

In 1811, the year before his father died, Alexander Hood Cocken became the assistant lighthouse keeper. His father, who was seventy two years old that year, was in a very feeble state of health. The son -- then twenty four years old --would have stayed at the light full time that year. When his father died, Alexander Hood Cocken was appointed in his place. He may have sub-contracted out the lightkeeping duties between 1812 and 1816, not living at the light full time, but always responsible for its daily maintenance and nightly operation.

In 1816 a law was passed that once again required the lightkeeper to actually live at the light and perform the duties himself. So for the next forty-four years he was at the light, on the island, permanently and full time.

From another source entirely, we learn that in 1821 Alexander Hood Cocken underwent an intense religious experience. James Mann, a beloved British Methodist clergyman who served the area for many years, had a great influence on Alexander. Mann's death that year occasioned a soul-searching as Cocken reached what would then have been thought of as middle age. He began to play a significant role in the local circuit of the Methodist Church, which connected villages along the western shore, on nearby Cape Negro Island and at Northeast Harbour. Eventually he became a local preacher, a position of importance at a time when regularly ordained pastors were rare. There was a small Methodist congregation on McNutt's, a part of the local circuit, around now, and the lightkeeper would have led the services there.

In 1822 he married Jannet McKenna of Carleton Village, directly across the harbour from the island. Jannet was part of a large extended family, Scots like the Cockens. Though Alexander and Jannet had no children, they had many nieces and nephews. There would have been much coming and going between the western shore of the harbour and the island, just as there still is, though they rowed and now folks start up a motor.

Here's how Alexander Hood Cocken describes life at the lighthouse: "From the great inconvenience of procuring my supplies on this island -- generally paying double, if not treble freight for almost every necessary of life brought here, and having to pay very extravagant wages to an assistant --men considering it a great privation to live in so secluded a spot and the labour being of a toilsome nature, particularly during the winter months requiring attention at all times of night, obliged me to pay extraordinary wages; and for the last 20 years of it, it has taken full half of my allowance to meet this item alone, including the person's board. Since the prosecution of the fishery on a more regular and extensive scale, it is scarcely possible to procure an assistant that can be relied on at any price."

Although he has economized wherever possible, he goes on to say, he has not been able to save enough money from his salary to support himself and his "aged partner" in their old age, though he has been lightkeeper for forty eight years now, suffers from infirmities, and wants to retire.

He has, he notes, had a school at the lighthouse for the past twenty four years. There he taught boys reading, writing, orthography, arithmetic, English grammar, history and geography. He was, it seems from all the evidence, an educated man. He charged twenty pounds per student, and, he says, this additional income helped to pay for the assistant lightkeeper. And each year at least a few boys -- say five or six -- were also living at the light. They would need to be fed and housed as well as taught. They would need to be kept busy when not at school. So there was more work, probably done by his wife Jannet. The school would have been something they took on together, for added income.

Cocken also reports that he has brought some land under sufficient cultivation to provide winter hay for a handful of cattle; he has "any number" of sheep running wild; and a vegetable garden and potato field. The initial clearing may have been done by his father, but he has continued the work.

Was there help out here, or were Alexander and Jannet doing all this work by themselves? There were other families settling on the island, not far from the lighthouse, in the early 1800s. But those families would have needed to clear their own lands, provide for their own cattle, dig their own vegetable gardens. The 1827 census tells us that Jannet and Alexander's household at the lighthouse included a servant. No doubt the scholars had chores. But it would have been a hands-on enterprise.

An official assessment conducted in 1857 described the lighthouse as barely functioning and the keeper's house as "wretched," owing not to the negligence of the keeper but to the lack of material support by the province. Repairs were recommended, and they must have been made. Cocken refers to this in his 1860 letter: "Through strong representations to the Government for some years, and delayed owing to pressing calls at other stations, the premises not long since were put, and are now, in good substantial order -- as well the Light House, as dwelling house, store & Barn ...." Until the recent repairs, the Cockens had for many years endured life with a drafty house, a leaky roof, and a poorly functioning light.

In his application for a pension Alexander Hood Cocken did not mention that over the years he had bought up a few of the island lots originally granted to Loyalists. He bought the lot we live on for instance, rented it out for a number of years, then sold it. There were at least two others. There could have been a small income stream from his island properties, or more likely maybe the rents were paid in fish and apples. Maybe Alexander Hood Cocken was not as entirely poor as he wished to appear when he crafted his appeal for a pension. Still, he had not become a wealthy man.

Eleanor Robertson Smith and Kim Robertson Walker, Founders of Shelburne, Nova Scotia: Who Came, 1783-1793, and Stayed (Shelburne: Shelburne County Archives & Genealogical Society, 2008), 30-31, 150-151; the series of petitions from Alexander Cocken to the House of Assembly can be read online in the NSARM virtual exhibit Voices of the People; T. Watson Smith, The History of the Methodist Church in Eastern British America (Halifax, Nova Scotia: The Methodist Book Room, 1877), 111; NSARM, RG 7, Vol. 43, Alexander H. Cocken to Joseph Howe, Shelburne, June 1, 1860; 1827 Census of Nova Scotia; Register of Deeds, Shelburne & Shelburne County & Indexes 1784-1880.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

beneath the sea

I took these pictures yesterday afternoon while rowing in still waters at a low tide. I rowed around a ledge that appears just off the point, a little outside the cove. At some places the water is less than a meter deep there during the low tide.
Nova Scotia's southwest coast is noted for a richness and variety of seaplants. They provide protection for other forms of aquatic life: green wavy nurseries for all kinds of babies.
When this kelp gets washed up on the cobble beach of the point, the sheep are right there to appreciate it.
The bottom is often a soft sand. This is the ocean's gentlest face.

Friday, July 16, 2010

a day for the birds

Sue Abbott of Bird Studies Canada and Jane Alexander came to the island to make a count of varieties for the Maritimes Breeding Bird Atlas. They were also scouting possible breeding sites for the endangered Roseate Tern and Piping Plover. Warren Nickerson brought Sue and Jane by outboard skiff from Lockeport. They motored around the southern tip of McNutt's and stopped at Gray's Island, then came into the cove. From there we all went off down the main road toward the Government Wharf to look and listen. After our walk across the island, Jane and Sue and Warren went up the cove in Warren's boat to the Horseshoe, then around the eastern side of the island and back to Lockeport.
Greg and I learned so much we never knew. From Jane and Sue, we learned to identify a Winter Wren, a bird whose remarkably operetta-like song we have often heard but never identified. We learned that the tiny birds with flashes of yellow I had thought were some kind of warbler over near the McNutt House (the area called back of Louie's, in local lingo) are Kinglets. We learned the song of the Yellowthroat Warbler: wichity wichity wichity. We learned that the island has Cedar Waxwing and Swainson's Thrush.
From Warren, we learned that he's related to the Goulden family who used to own the old hotel next door, that his grandfather Nelson Goulden was one of the lightkeepers, how to look for Irish Moss, and a better way to plant bush beans.

All in all it was a most exciting day.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

not deterred by fog and rain

We had been eagerly awaiting the arrival of Eastlink internet service to the island. It promised to be cheaper, faster, and more reliable than our satellite internet service. Eastlink has a contract with the province to make broadband internet available to everyone. Even the people who live in the Tobeatic Wilderness, or on an island.

So today Jason Doucet and Colin Boudreau came from Eastlink to set up the new service.They drove from Yarmouth in heavy fog and pouring rain to Fort Point, where Greg met them and brought them over in Chopper I. It was so foggy they could barely make out the wharf when they arrived. Then they docked and loaded their equipment into the cart which the ATV carried up to the house. It was that easy.
They spent a couple of hours or so at our house.
First they checked to make sure we would have a signal. Yes! It comes from Lower Sandy Point. Now we feel a new connection to the eastern shore of the harbour.
Here's some of their stuff. They brought lots more. They climbed ladders, ran cable, etc. It was all very technical, as you can see.
Their computer shows our location and the cell phone tower at Lower Sandy Point. Jason and Colin were terrific. We wish they would have to come back frequently, but they probably won't. Now they are off to install more internet all over southwest Nova Scotia. But we were their only job for today.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

shorn sheep

Most of the flock spends its time around the lighthouse.We watched them there through the fog last Saturday, and they, of course, watched us.
If we would only leave they could go back to what they were doing before we interrupted them.

Monday, July 12, 2010

the lightkeeper's tale, introduction

In the year 1860, Cape Roseway's aged lightkeeper sat down at his wooden desk by the sea and began to write a letter.* Over three pages long, it was a letter of great potential consequence to him, and it was addressed to an important person. Indeed, some would say the intended recipient was the single most important person in all of Nova Scotia. I imagine the lightkeeper revised his letter several times before he was satisfied enough to make the final copy, the one in his beautiful handwriting, bearing a few inkblots but no mistakes, that's now kept in the Nova Scotia Archives.

His letter had a clear purpose. Alexander Hood Cocken wished to retire from his lightkeeping duties, and he wished to be given a sufficient pension upon his retirement. After all, he had been keeping the light on McNutt's Island for the past forty-eight years, since the death of his father (the former lightkeeper) in 1812. Cocken also wanted to explain why, from his annual lightkeeper's salary, he had not been able to save enough money to provide for himself and his wife in their old age, and why the province might feel obliged to make up the gap. The case needed to be argued with some care not to alienate the powers that be. Details must be supplied.

You can read this letter in different ways, from different angles, asking different questions of it and learning different things. Since it is such a rich letter, I'll look at it in four parts -- a mini-series -- over the next few weeks.

The first will be Alexander Hood Cocken's own story as he chooses to tell it within his letter. I have come across a few other fragments that shed light on him, and I'll be sharing them later. But for now we will focus on what he tells us about himself here.

The second perspective will be the early history of Nova Scotia lighthouses. The letter offers a fascinating account of how the earliest lighthouses were managed and supplied by the province in the years before Confederation. Since Alexander Hood Cocken's father was the first keeper of the Shelburne light, and since the Shelburne light was one of Nova Scotia's first lighthouses, his brief review of provincial policies, laws, and practices runs all the way back to the beginning.

The third angle is what the letter tells us about the island's agriculture and community during the early part of the nineteenth century.

Finally, I'll write about what happened as a result of the lightkeeper's letter. Was he allowed to retire, and did he receive a pension? None of that was automatic in those days. And the light could not be simply abandoned, not even for one night. Even at his ripe old age, Alexander Hood Cocken could not leave his post until a new man was brought on. But who want to take up such an arduous position? How was the next lightkeeper appointed? And who was it who made these decisions?

* Letter from Alexander Hood Cocken to Joseph Howe, 1 June 1860, NSARM, RG 7, Vol. 43.

Friday, July 9, 2010

google chairs

There were eighteen wooden chairs in the house when we arrived. I couldn't imagine how we would use so many chairs. Some were beyond help, but slowly Greg has refinished most of them. He finished the last four today.
I wonder what we will do with them.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

apples in July

Slowly we are beginning to know these old apple trees. I could only get so far with actually identifying most of them, but from year to year we learn their patterns and remember some of their characteristics. Slowly they are coming into focus as particular trees.

And already we can begin to see which are likely to do well this fall. The Alexander, for example, which makes a golden cider that takes like honey. It did beautifully the first year we harvested, then produced miserably last year. This year it looks loaded with fruit. Maybe it's an every-other-year tree, or maybe last year it was recovering from being pruned.
The anonymous tree nearest the garden gate looks as if it, too, will bear well this year. It seems to do well every year. Its apples are tiny, and much appreciated by all manner of creature. Last year there weren't many left by the time Greg picked them, but only because so many had already dropped, a feast for the sheep and deer.
The Gravenstein seems to have more apples than last year too. I think it's biennial, though.
Also the Maiden's Blush, a tree the sheep particularly adore. The Greening up along the short-cut is doing well, whereas last year it had nothing to speak of.

It could just be that last year was just a pretty poor year for all growing things. There were also no wild raspberries, for instance. And we only got half as many walnuts as we did the year before. Last summer was cool and wet and nothing ever really seemed to take off.
So far, this season promises to be much better.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

a fresh eye

Bernard Nickerson came to the island yesterday from Shelburne, bringing with him his camera and his eye for the terrific picture.I wish I knew where this wasp nest is.
And this little bird is a wonder.
Even more beautiful jellyfish floating past, in remarkably serene waters.

You can see more of Bernie's perspective on south shore Nova Scotia at his flickr site, including a whale spotted in the harbour during the return trip to Shelburne yesterday on Brown Eyed Girl.

Thanks to Bernie for sharing his McNutt's Island photographs.

Monday, July 5, 2010

beautiful swimmers

I let the rowboat drift in the cove for a while this afternoon so I could watch the jellyfish.They propelled themselves so quickly beneath the water that I could hardly take a picture before they had come and gone.
They are intent on their journey.
Here was the biggest jellyfish I saw today.
Its tentacles waved gracefully, though I understand their purpose is practical, not aesthetic.
But still...