Sunday, January 7, 2018

Bitchin' cold

These bitter temperatures are ridiculous.  The average day time high in Nova Scotia in January is minus one Celsius.   Today it was minus 15 C and with the windchill factored in it was minus 25 C !

The dogs needed a walk; but first we had to bundle up.

I put on knee high socks, stretchy pants, jeans and over-pants, sweater, sweat jacket, winter coat and neck covering, ear muffs, gloves, mittens and warm boots.  

Then I had to dress the dogs in their coats with warm neck coverings added.

And off we went to the Jack Lake trail.

While there is no snow in the woods, in many places water has seeped from the slopes onto the roads then from the roads and down into the woods below.

We had to give sections like this a wide berth.

We stayed in the woods to avoid the biting winds and the dogs tore about following their noses but never out of my sight.

Every time I wanted to take a photo I had to pull off my gloves and mitts and my hands FROZE!

We explored a few kilometres of woodland trails over a couple of hours.

As long as we kept moving, the dogs and I were fine.  It was only when back in the car that I noticed by very ruddy cheeks in the rear view mirror and briefly pondered the possibility of frost bite.  

Friday, January 5, 2018

Heave ho !

Notice anything odd about this photo from Wednesday's walk on the Jack Lake Trail ?

Would it help if I reminded you that Wednesday was the third of January ?

Where is the snow ?

Though there is snow in many areas of Nova Scotia; there is none in my area.  

None at all. Zip.  Zilch. Nadda.

That lack of snow reveals some things I hadn't noticed before.  See the white patches in the photo below ?

Those patches represent what I call "blow holes"; the frozen breath of the critters dwelling within the holes.

Look at all the "blow holes" in the picture below.  If this was a snowy day these holes would just blend in and you'd never notice them.

These fascinating breath holes are not the only thing that I noticed;

                               some of the well-worn trails are icy and suddenly rougher than usual.

What used to be a fairly smooth trail is now all chewed up.  

Something is growing under the ground and pushing the earth up.  What could do that ?

The answer is "needle ice" !   Needle ice forms when soil is saturated with water and the air is below freezing.  Ice forms at or just below the soil surface, where water meets the colder air and freezes.  As more water from the soil moves up toward the ice through a capillary or wicking action it freezes and expands.  The ice is then pushed up out of the soil forming fragile columns of ice that poke out of the earth.   Needle ice needs a certain balance of temperature, water and soil type to develop.   The soil grains need to be porous enough to allow water to move up through them, but still tightly packed enough to retain water.

Holding a big chunk of needle ice
So we've seen "blow holes", needle ice and now for your viewing pleasure I present the amazing "dropping rocks" ...

Though it looks like these rocks are descending into the ground, things are not what they seem.

I finally found an understandable explanation*  for these rocks that look like they've dropped down into the ground.  In fact the stones have stayed still; the ground around them has moved upwards !  

When the surface froze, ice columns formed beneath that frozen layer and lifted the entire mass as a single unit.  Stones were unaffected and stayed in their original positions.   

Sooooo, the stones didn't move DOWN -- the ground moved UP !

I am continually fascinated and thrilled by the world of nature.


Tuesday, January 2, 2018

A New Year's Day gift.

An amazing thing popped up on my Facebook feed yesterday from the background casting group I belong to.   Surprisingly, the message had nothing at all to  to do with background work.  

The message read:  If you are handy to Cow Bay, please go help out!

An image was attached:

I called my  friend Amy-Lynn who lives in Cow Bay and told her that a call had gone out for help to rescue a beached Pilot Whale, stranded on the beach at Rainbow Haven.  She, her hubby and her two grandsons bundled up and drove there.

They were among the first to show up, but soon had lots of company.

People brought buckets and shovels to try to make a channel to drag the whale out to sea.  Unfortunately the tide was out and not coming in any time soon.

So how do you get a 2-4 ton whale down a beach to the water.

The Marine Animal Response Society arrived with the solution.

A flattened inflatable boat was worked under the stricken whale.  It was gradually inflated.

Then in spite of the minus 20 degree temperature the rescuers struggled to maneuver the heavy whale hundreds of metres past the shallows out into deeper water.

Among those rescuers were local surfers and volunteer fire fighters.  Some of those rescuers stayed out in the bitter water for over an hour taking the whale into deeper water.

At this point I'll let Carolyn Ray of the CBC pick up the story:

Annette Thompson, an off-duty firefighter and former commercial diver, was one of two remaining people in the water along with Ben Hawkins. By that point, they had no flotation device and were trying to return to land, but there was a new challenge.
Pilot whales are extremely social creatures. This one had bonded to its rescuers.
"We righted him several times," Thompson said. "Ben and I stayed with him as long as we could. Unfortunately, he kept following us to shore."
Thompson said it was like dealing with one of her dogs. 
"I kept saying to him, 'you can't come home with me, you have to go back,' and he'd just look at you and you could hear him breathe. It was just absolutely amazing."
Hawkins managed to separate from the animal first, but the whale stayed by Thompson's side. Finally, King on his paddleboard managed to get between the animal and his rescuer. 
Hawkins managed to separate from the animal first, but the whale stayed by Thompson's side. Finally, Todd King on his paddleboard managed to get between the animal and his rescuer.
"Eventually — this is after three or four attempts — I got Annette into the reef at a point where she was safe," King said. The whale then started following King on his board, so he headed to deep, open water.

The paddleboarder Todd King, led the whale into deeper water:
"Most of the time, I was at risk of hitting the whale with my paddle — that's how close he was," King said. "As we paddled along, he got stronger and stronger."
When they finally got about two kilometres away, the animal started swimming away.
"The whale just rolled on his side and looked me in the eye," King said.
There have been no sightings of the whale since, which rescuers hope is a sign it has rejoined its pod.

Happy New Year everyone !

Sunday, December 24, 2017

An Early Christmas Day gift

Every year I treat myself to a beach walk on Christmas Day.  Because the forecast for tomorrow is rather dodgy I went for my beach walk a day early.  I wanted to explore a peninsula that juts out into the Atlantic just past Lawrencetown Beach.

To get to the peninsula we had to skirt a lot of areas where the trail was totally water-covered due to our many recent rains. 


The lush woods ... make me happy.

Today was sunny and a few degrees above freezing.  Waves were crashing in with frothy enthusiasm.  It was very nice for late December.

I was a bit worried about the dogs romping off leash near the cliff's edge but then I realized it was not as steep and perilous as I'd thought.  A human would have a much rougher time tumbling down the slope that a four-legger would.

Erosion is certainly eating away at the landscape.

I wonder if this tree will be there the next time I go ?

A light breeze carried marvellous scents of salt and seaweed.  

I thought at first that Sooki was looking off a steep cliff and then Wendy appeared.  Guess it wasn't as steep as I thought.

I love watching them romp.  Their simple joy at running free is wonderful to see.

It was an early Christmas gift to myself, and a couple of furry chums.


May you find joy in your life during what can be a difficult time for many of us.

If you are struggling, reach out to a friend.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Memories, light the corners of my mind ... or do they ?

My friends Pat and Sandy visit me every year.  They each come for a week and we have wonderful times exploring beaches and having adventures.

Right now I cannot tell you what we did when last they visited.

If I try to remember what we did I get nothing.  But that makes sense because if I try to visualize Pat and Sandy's faces I get nada, zip, zilch, zippo.   My mind's eye is sightless.

Close your eyes and imagine an apple.   Can you see an apple ?   I cannot see an apple.

I cannot see my beloved mom and dad.

If my daughter disappeared I could not describe her.  I know her when I see her, but I cannot describe her even though I love her with all my heart, as my mind's eye is blank.

When I meet new people, since I cannot hold their image in my mind's eye I do not remember them.  I've taken to telling people I'm "face blind" as that seems to help them understand.  I'll ask the person not to be offended if when next we meet I act like I don't know them.  I ask them to remind me of their name and of our last meeting. 

I always assumed I wasn't paying attention and just was lousy with faces and names.

It was only after listening to a program on CBC Radio last spring that I learned my condition had a name; Aphantasia.   I never had thought about my lack of a "mind's eye".   I never realized that other people were seeing real pictures in their heads.  I could not understand why my friends would talk about their memories of things involving me and my parents that I could not.  I'd often ask "was I there?".

I have no internal visual images of my childhood and since memories are built on mental images you can see where I'm going here ...

Nope.  Nuthin'.  

I know those are my parents with my brother Darrell and I but I have no memories attached.

I know this is my mom and I.  I remember that she was going blind.  I know I loved her and dad passionately but I don't know where this photo was taken or what we did that day...or any other day.

I've always wondered why I take photos almost obsessively.  I now realize that it is my way of trying to create a memory for myself.  

Before Sandy and Pat next visit I will haul out my laptop and look for photos of their last visits so I'll know what we did.  Too many times I've said "Hey we should visit Scots Bay, you'll love it" and my patient friend has said "Yeah it's lovely we had a great time there last time".   Sigh ...

Looks like Pat and I went to Peggy's Cove

and visited Fjord horses on the Noel Shore,

'course we did these things on different visits but that's just a detail.  lol

On past visits Sandy and I have ... wait ... lemme see how to finish that sentence ...

apparently we've  been to a taping of "This hour has 22 minutes",  coz here is a photo to remind me.     

And remember that time she came in February and we went to Peggy's Cove for a nice lunch at the S'ou wester Restaurant ?

I remember it now because looking at this photo reminds me, but unless there are other pictures from the same day I cannot recall what else we did that day.


Through my first 66 years I did not know that other people could see REAL pictures in their minds eye.  I've spent a lot of time since last spring having my own internal pity party; jealous that my friends can visualize my parents when I cannot.

My blogging chum Kathy who writes "Lake Superior Spirit", also has Aphantasia (along with 2% of the population) , but figured out on her own many years ago that she lacked the ability to see in her head and has a more positive attitude toward what I see as a loss.  Here is her take on living with this condition: "Close your eyes and imagine your dead father's face".

After chatting on-line with Kathy I came to realize that some of the things about the way I see the world are different from how most folk see the world.

Once a week I cross the MacDonald Bridge over the Halifax Harbour to go to choir and each time I do I marvel at the view; the island out in the harbour, the cargo ships below and the ferries criss-crossing the harbour.  Though I know what this bridge and view are like, because I can't hold those images in my head I think that each time I cross it the experience is new and fresh.  Not exactly but almost like it's the first time.

Perhaps it's why I love walking in the woods.  So much to see with something akin to fresh eyes.

I often feel a fresh sense of wonder when I walk in the woods,
or on a beach where I spot amazing wonders.

I sometimes notice things that others seem to overlook.  Perhaps because I don't hold images in my head I see the world slightly differently never losing that child like sense of wonder ?

Perhaps this is another reason I like hanging out with Wendy and Sooki.  

I suspect that they live very much for the moment and share my joy at life's small wonders.

And though I wish things were different I am learning to be content with the way they are.