Archive for the ‘sabrina’ Category

the round hill tribe   14 comments

Although the weather of the past few weeks has often been wet and dreary, I’ve tried to make the best of it by working on the yard and gardens. The entire front yard is now fenced – some parts rather wimpily, but plenty strong enough to contain my collies. Fortunately, they are not much for testing boundaries by leaping over, crawling under, or pushing through any kind of barrier. They are quite content to patrol the garden, wagging their tails as they bark at anything that seems out of place, but soon returning to sit or lie next to me while I work. They are such great companions and friends often remark on how the three of us seem like some kind of tribe. Perhaps our nomadic life is responsible for our tribal behaviour, looking out for one another, and never wandering out of sight or earshot. Whatever, it is a comfortable relationship.

As described in my last post, there is now a strawberry bed where once was a heap of rotting planks. Fifty new plants are doing well. Never one to let unoccupied garden space go to waste, I stuck a couple of dozen red onion seedlings in between the plants, reasoning that they can spend the summer growing and provide me with green tops and the odd onion for a salad as needed.

The perennial flower garden has been greatly expanded to accommodate about forty new plants. Half came from a friend’s flower garden at Bear River. A few more came from the plant sale held during the Annapolis Royal Magnolia Festival. The most recent batch came from the Champlain Garden Society sale held at the farmers’ market last weekend. My bill came to an even fifty dollars, and everyone was of the opinion that I was probably their best customer of the day. I returned home with the van jammed full of foxgove, hostas, daylilies, lady’s mantle, and other wonderful plants. All of this goes some way toward lessening the sting of abandoning a good many plants when I sold our farm two years ago. Of course, it’s difficult to replace plants given to you over thirty-plus years by friends and family, but I’m feeling more philosophical about things these days and beginning to regard plants dug from new friends’ gardens as being part of something larger – a great web of old favourites that everyone has been sharing with fellow gardeners. Different faces, but the same roots.

Anyhow, added to all of the above are two new rhododendrons which join the three planted last year – the one in the above photo is Nova Zembla (click on all images for larger views).

To round things out, I purchased quite a few herbs and some tomato plants – medium-sized yellow “Taxi” and “Green Zebra” – as those are low acid varieties. Everything is doing well, thanks to all the rain. The garden actually looks pretty good – as befits a much nicer house. Although it may not look too bad from the outside, it’s still at the “pay no attention to the man behind the curtain” stage.

This year, I’ve made it my goal to try to visit the Annapolis Royal Farmers’ Market as often as possible. As most of you know, I am a notorious recluse when not traveling across the continent. It is not unusual for me to avoid going anywhere I can’t walk to on my own two feet, for at least two or three weeks at a time – which is actually not such a bad thing from an environmental standpoint. However, I’ve been thinking that perhaps a little contact with the human race could be beneficial, so I’ll make the weekly effort to drive the five or so kilometers to town on Saturday mornings. I’ve been twice now and have purchased excellent bread from a local bakery, the above-mentioned herb and tomato plants, some handmade soap from one of my Round Hill neighbours who got started into that business last summer, and two gorgeous glass insulators which I shall have to flaunt on m blog once I get round to taking some photos. In any case, I’m doing my best to help support the local economy.

To add to all of this excitement and activity, I’ve begun this season’s effort at photographing nocturnal moths and already turned up a couple of new (for me) species. More about that sometime soon. Also, I decided to sign up with the Maritimes Butterfly Atlas project to do the atlas square in which Round Hill is located. As many may remember, Don and I used to participate in several nature-related citizen science monitoring programs before our lives went to hell in a handbasket in 2007.
Little by little, I’m trying to carry on alone, picking up our lost trail. My hope is that, by getting involved in this and other similar programs, I will gradually feel more a part of this place.

Lastly, over the weekend, I began what will probably be one of those epic projects that takes a whole season of spare hours when a break is needed from working on the house. I plan to build a walking trail from the house down to the river – a steep and slippery slope – and from there, carry on along the shore until looping back through the trees. This would give me better access to this rambling bit of property which, although not all that large, seems bigger than its footprint due to the irregular shoreline and terraced woodland. The photo below is the view looking down the steep hillside from the house. I’ve progressed about a third of the way to the shoreline. It’s a start.

Written by bev wigney on May 30th, 2011

hidden landscapes   10 comments

This morning as I write this post, I’m feeling very aware of how fragmented my life has become. I’m still writing about last autumn’s travels through Utah (soon to be finished up), and about the last couple of things that happened before I left Bisbee to head back to Canada. Add to that the past couple of weeks of traveling eastward across the U.S., and now my preparations and plans for this summer’s work program at the old house in Nova Scotia. On top of all of that, I’m wanting to write something about how it feels to be back here in the area where Don and I lived for over thirty years until his death in September 2008. While the first few topics may be of interest to many, I suspect that the last is of interest mainly to me, but I do wish to record at least something here – to look back upon someday, I suppose. Eventually, I will get to all of the above – I just have to post a little more often. But let me just take a moment to write something about being back here in Ontario.

It’s weird. Very, very weird. This is my third return from traveling across North America. This year’s trip was over new terrain as I cut a diagonal across the U.S. to get back to Ontario, instead of doing my usual route up through the western states, and then eastward across Canada. I’m realizing that there’s something very different about these routes – something that goes beyond the obvious geographic path and distance. It has more to do with how I feel while traveling. The longer route seems to give me a chance to make the transition between being “out west” and “back here in the east.” By taking the diagonal, I feel very differently – almost as though something messy has happened – rather like spilling ink across a page. Also, I’ve realized that I seem to need time to prepare for my confrontation with this place.

The final day on the road, I crossed into Ontario and drove straight through the area where we had our farm, our friends had farms scattered between Ottawa and Kingston, and where we hiked and canoed during every spare moment of our lives. I found myself having to toss up my mental force field to fend off the pain and sadness which I experience while in this region. It’s a familiar feeling. I used to use this form of self defense when I took Don (and before that – my father) to the hospital for chemo and radiation treatments and other appointments. I called it being in my Terminator mode. Of course, I don’t mean that in the literal sense – my role was always that of protector and not destroyer – but during our countless hospital forays, I had to throw up an impenetrable exterior to make it possible to continue functioning at high efficiency while deflecting bombs and missiles. These days, while in other places, I can pretty much drop my bulletproof shields, but when I am back here in our old stomping grounds, the shields must remain up in place at all times. It’s really no way to live.

On Tuesday, I took Sage for a hike on one of our favourite trails – one that Don and I walked several times a month in those Elysian days before cancer struck. Soon after setting out, I realized that I felt like crap – as though I was wearing cement shoes and that the landscape had nothing to say to me. When part way along the trail, I discovered that it was now impassable due to the footbridge having been washed away during a storm. I took that as a sign to abandon this mission and return home, but not without stopping at our favourite whole food store. That was yet another mistake. It looks pretty much exactly the same as the last time I was there – with Don – to pick up some lunch at the deli. He was doing a lot of chemo at that point. After we left the store to go for a walk on the above-mentioned trail, he found he couldn’t eat anything because the smell of the food made him ill. All of this came back to me like flashbacks in the trailer of some demented movie. I ended the day feeling morose and more than ready to head east to work on the old house at Round Hill. Of course that’s not very practical, as the weather is as cool and rainy there as it has been here in Ontario. However, as soon as things warm up and the sun begins to shine, I will be ready.

That’s about all that I’ll say about how things are with me at this time. I’m doing alright. I live with a good deal of what probably qualifies as PTSD, but manage to carry on. I’ve found ways that make it possible to function and live, but they don’t include hanging around the scene of the crime, so to speak. Gotta move on and make life happen where it can.

Anyhow, turning to the photos that I’ve put up, these were taken last November, shortly before leaving Utah to visit Chaco Canyon, in New Mexico. From there, I traveled on down to Bisbee. All of these were taken at Butler Wash, which is along Hwy 95 between the town of Blanding and Natural Bridges National Monument. My next post will be about an afternoon spent there.

First, what I’d like to say about this area, is that I’ve wanted to travel through ever since the day that I set eyes on it from a vantage point east of Escalante. If you check out this map, you’ll see a spot marked “The Million Dollar Road”. That’s just about where I stood, looking east, while taking this photo. At that moment, I said to myself, “Someday, I’m going to go there and see what it’s like to wander over that region of Navajo sandstone.” Well, on this trip, I finally did so – or at least, I got a taste of it. I will return to spend more time there – maybe a few weeks – hopefully this coming autumn.

So, about these photos. You may or may not have discovered this already, but the first and second photos are of the same spot. The first photo is looking into a canyon with my camera not zoomed in. That is how the canyon would look to the naked eye. The second is a zoomed in shot of one of the arches in the rock formations, revealing the ruins of a cliff dwelling (this is one time when it is worth clicking on all of the photos to see larger views of each). The third and fourth photos are a similar pair of a cliff as it appears to the naked eye, and then zoomed in. If you study the third photo, you’ll see that there are cliff dwellings in other arches, similar to the one in the fourth photo. Now, go back and think about this photo. What must it be like to hike through any of the canyons in this vast expanse between Escalante and Blanding? I scratched the surface on this day’s travels, but wish to return to spend more time – much more time – exploring the area.

On this day, I left Sabrina in the van – all the windows open, blinds down, and a good breeze blowing through. Sage and I walked to Butler Wash – a short hike of maybe 15 to 20 minutes – over and through the undulating yellow sandstone dunes. The trail is marked with rocks or small cairns. Although there is no danger of losing one’s way, I quickly intuited that this is a region where one could easily become disoriented as you can rarely move from one spot to the next in a direct line. Always, you are walking a curving path around one rock dome then around the next. There are few distinctive points visible, and an eerie sameness that I have not often experienced in the natural world. In other places, there is always this or that kind of tree with a certain shaped trunk or branch, or a boulder that looks like a dinosaur head, or even something so small as a cluster of ferns on a seep between rocks. Not here. Although I looked for natural guideposts, I found that there were very few that spoke to me. In spite of having a very good sense of direction, I know I would have cause to make good use of a compass and GPS while hiking through this country.

As well, this is a very arid place. There are few sources of water in this landscape. In summer, the heat can be extreme. Even on this mid-November day, I found it warm. The dogs drank a lot of water throughout the day – always as good an indicator as any, that the humidity levels are very low. One must be properly prepared to venture into such a landscape, especially alone as I always am these days. However, although alone, I will return.

Written by bev wigney on April 15th, 2011