Tuesday, January 30, 2018

To what do we aspire in life ?

What is a life well lived ?   

In our youth to what do we aspire ?  

In old age how do we look back and determine the success of our lives ?


 What is it that gives our lives meaning ?


Wray Hart was not what many of us would immediately judge as "inspirational" if we saw him trundling his shopping cart laden with empty refundable cans down the street.   But if a life well-lived is to be judged on lives touched, then Wray is the epitome of what we should all aspire to.

It should not be about the dream job, the financial success or fancy acquisitions but in the difference we made and the lives we touched. We never know the impact our kind words and deeds have on others.   

Early last Saturday morning Wray had gone out to find some bottles so he could buy a friend some cigarettes; sadly a car driven by a drunk driver mounted the sidewalk and killed Wray.

Photo credit: Tim Krochak / Chronicle Herald

I have been touched and surprised by the outpouring of grief for his untimely passing and the many grateful stories from those whose lives he touched. 


He was a fixture on Spring Garden Road, often sitting on a bench in front of the old public library where people would stop to sit for a chat and share a sandwich with him.

A memorial page in his memory is filled with tributes to how Wray touched their lives:
I first met Wray as a kid, with my dad and likely my sister. We'd have a coffee or some fries and just "shoot the shit". As the years passed I'd bump into him countless times with friends, usually Danielle and Kay and he would always remind us to "stay out of trouble". As more years passed he would ask me "where's the other Musketeers", unlike the other two I had not stayed out of trouble. In fact those of you who know me best know I found lots of trouble during "the lost years". Mid to late 90s I found myself sitting with Wray quite often, having no idea he spelled his name with a "W" he never told me much about himself. Instead he was more interested in where I've been sleeping, if I had been eating and made sure to tell me when he thought I was hanging with a "dangerous bunch". Over the years we saw less of each other but always made time to catch up when I was blessed enough to bump into him. After our last visit, and meeting my first born, maybe second I don't remember...I do remember his smiling face looking at me with pride..."you did good kid, good for you". Thank you Wray, for always being a smiling face, for always looking out, and for giving our city a Hart. You will be remembered by so many xo
Ray, I first met you as my teenage self, sharing my lunch with you sitting on the Halifax Library wall. You noticed when I left for school, commented when I came back home, shared your stories with me, & left your imprint on my soul. You will be missed
He looked out for everybody, regardless of his own situation.  He helped everybody. He never said no to anybody. He had a really hard life and he struggled a lot but he remained positive, through every bit of it.
Rest in Peace Wray, downtown Halifax will always be less without you...I will always remember when I was working the stone on the Basilica our chats over lunch and the Kellogg's nutrition bars you loved so much..I had my wife pack and extra one everyday in case you were around that day......God Bless you friend to all.. 
It was with great sadness that I read this story this morning. I have known Wray for about forty years. I worked with him for about a decade in Burnside, back when his life was better. He had a wife and children back then. Things then went bad for Wray, his life changed a lot and he eventually ended up on the streets. He was one of the hardest working people I have ever known. He was tireless when it came to work. He was a good natured, honest and giving man. I will always remember Wray as will anyone that had the privilege and took the time to get to know him. He was a fine human being that tried to make the world a little better every day. He will be missed by many. Rest in Gods Peace,   Wray.
Photo credit: Trent Erickson

There is a empty space in this city that will never be filled.I had known Ray since the 90's.He was the kindest man you'll ever meet. Who cared for those who were kind to him and showed it by his ability to remember the details of their lives and the stories they shared with him. The hardest working man in Halifax. 
We had many conversations but one I'll never forget was the time he took me aside to speak privately. He said in a low voice, so only he and I could hear. He said,"Caesar.. I don't know how to say this but.... Well I haven't seen your wife in a while. Is everything ok?"... He was truly concerned. So when I told him everything was good and that she was away in NL for a while minding our nephews, he gave out a nervous laugh of relief then said "Oh I'm glad to hear that.. I thought you guys might have broke up .. " ha... 
He left an impact on a lot of people's lives, he always had a very positive demeanor and attitude, and a smile about him.
M________ said one of her friends recounted making a point to go by the library while walking home from downtown because she knew Hart would be there.
"He was watching for people and he was watching to keep people safe. So she always felt safer walking home when she passed him," she said. "That was him, his presence was always here."
Last fall, G________  had worried about Hart as she hadn't seen him in some time. When she tracked him down she learned he had a new apartment. He had a fridge to store his food safely and had bought a radio, she said.
"He was in really good form. He was really upbeat … He told me he had arranged his bed so he could look out the window at the stars when he was listening to the radio at night."

If well wishes, condolences and great memories were cold hard cash, then Wray Hart was a man rich beyond measure.  You will be missed here in Halifax, my friend. He was a fixture in downtown Halifax.  Always had a kind word and a ready smile when we met him in our travels

When the drunk driver was escorted from court on Monday a friend of Wray's shouted:

"His name was Wray and he was a ... legend !"


Photo credit: Elizabeth McMillan / CBC

Here is a link to  Wray's memorial page on FaceBook



Wednesday, January 24, 2018

What is that man doing ?

Boy that seems like an unusual parking spot out in that field.  And look at that man wandering around throwing things from a big white bucket.

Good grief, they're dead chickens !


Why on Earth was he doing that ?



As I watched, a couple of crows and seagulls swooped down curiously over the field.  For a few minutes they had the field to themselves but seemed hesitant to approach the white carcasses scattered across the field.  They would hop across the field eager for a free meal but mindful of who or what was behind them in the "buffet line".



And it wasn't long before they did have company, as numerous bald eagles swooped down to enjoy the free lunch.



The crows and seagulls were amazingly cheeky ... but not stupid.  They would linger near to the feeding eagles but were careful to keep their distance.


I've been to Eagle Watch before; actually I'm trying to figure out if today was my fourth or fifth visit.  What I can tell you is that it was my most interesting visit.  This is the first time I saw the eagles feeding.  You can see my post about one of my previous visits and a bit of background on Eagle Watch here.

Here's a video link to today's visit.



Friday, January 19, 2018

I didn't walk the dogs today ...

This is maybe the third time since September that I didn't take the dogs for a walk; and I feel like a rat.

Usually the only reason I don't walk them is coz the weather is just intolerable, but today I  just never seemed to get around to it.   I spent the morning sorting choir music and then enjoying choir, then on to the market, Giant Tiger, the dollar store and Superstore.  By the time I got home it was 4 pm and I hadn't had lunch and the dogs needed to be fed.

I've promised them a good walk tomorrow.

Hard to believe that one week ago (last Friday) the golf course* where we sometimes walk in winter didn't have stitch of snow.


Wendy walks on water.

It wasn't too cold so Sooki didn't have to wear her big winter coat.

The next day, Saturday, we went to Shubie off leash park; still no snow.


The lake looked frozen but not be able to hold my weight.



























Sunday we returned to the golf course where the walking was still easy due to the lack of snow.

















Monday was cold with a biting wind so we went to the Lucasville woods as being in the trees cuts down on the chilling winds.

The woods form a dark mono culture of similar trees.


The recent high winds have taken their toll in the woods.


 The waterfall was roaring because of the recent rains.


The first snow of the winter in Halifax (not Nova Scotia) fell on Monday night and we went on a lovely walk in the Sackville woods on Tuesday.



The golf course looked very different the next day than it had on our previous visits.  Though it is very pretty it is much more difficult for walking.


Snow was still falling during our walk but it wasn't that cold and as you can see, it was rather magical.



There are some lovely sections that follow wide woodland trails.


So much snow fell on me that I couldn't see through my wet glasses and I had to take them off and tuck them in my pocket.  Also my hair got a mite wet ...


and the dogs got soggy too so I had to towel their heads to de-sog them.

Yesterday we went back to Shubie and while there the sun finally came out.  


The heaps of snow sticking to the tree branches would occasionally let loose with a shoooshing sound as it fell to the ground below; with one such "bomb" hitting me full on the top of my head, sliding down my neck and filling the hood of my coat.


So that's it.  Six days of walks and nothing to report for today.   Glad to hear it may get a degree or two above zero Celsius tomorrow.  That should make for a pleasant walk.

I'll let you know how it goes.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


* From December 15 - March 15 they allow dogs on the golf course as long as we pick up the dog poop.  

** I have messed with some of the images using an app on my phone called "Prisma".

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.



* https://bluejaybarrens.blogspot.ca/2015/02/freeze-and-thaw.html