among the sequoia – and some news   17 comments

Posted at 11:49 am in california,Don,Nova Scotia,the future

the bark of a Giant Sequoia (Sequoiadendron giganteum) can be close to a meter (3 feet thick) and reminds me of coconut fiber

As mentioned in my last post, I had arrived at the decision to proceed with finding a place in Nova Scotia. In fact, Don and I had been searching for the right place for a couple of years before he became ill, so it was more a case of making it happen. Shortly after writing that post, I found a place that seemed just about right for us. In the space of a couple of weeks, I went from looking to owning.

I’m not quite ready to post photos or say too much about the house – probably not until after the closing – but will say that it’s a place I’d initially dismissed due to the size of the property. At a bit under two acres, it didn’t seem as though it could provide enough habitat to keep me busy roaming around studying insects. But, on a bit of a whim, I included this property in a list given to my agent. When she sent me the lot plans of several places, this one immediately tweaked my interest due to its location along a year-round brook which bends around the property before flowing onwards into an area of marsh and then on out into the Annapolis River. Could this be the place? Could I find enough to keep me busy on this odd-shaped property with the brook running by its doorstep? My terrific agent went out and shot more photos and video clips of the property. After viewing them, I felt strongly that, “Yup, this is the one.” It has a nice mix of trees, many quite large. There is quite a long stretch of frontage on the brook. The house is set back well from the road (a dog owner and peacefulness consideration), and is located atop a high knoll looking down upon the brook and across the Annapolis Valley to the North Mountain.

trunk of a Sequoia at “Trail of 100 Giants” – average diameter is 6 to 8 meters (18 to 24 feet)

Sounds great, doesn’t it? Yes, indeed. But here’s the reality check. I’ll be the first to say that the house is in very rough condition — the kind of house I usually refer to as an “old beater”. However, I’d been looking for a project house – one that might keep me occupied for at least a couple of seasons. This place will, no doubt, take all of that and more, but I think it will be worth the time and effort. Unlike many very old houses – and this one could be quite old – maybe 150 years or so – it has many goodly sized windows and seems full of light. I must say “seems”, as I have not been there yet, and won’t arrive until after the closing — my decision to buy the place being based almost entirely on the setting of the property and its location, and not on the house. That said, after examining photos and watching video clips, the old place has continued to grow on me. I have a feeling that it and I will be comfortable together.

So, in about two weeks, the dogs and I will begin our northeast trek, first to Ottawa to visit my mom, and then to the storage locker to load up the van with tools. After that, it will be on to Nova Scotia. I hope to spend this season exploring the house, its property, and the surrounding area. It’s just a few miles from Annapolis Royal, so the region is familiar to me. Don and I passed through the town a number of times and hiked several nearby trails. I’m hoping that the move will seem like a homecoming of sorts. In between explorations, my time will be spent assessing the needs of the house and getting going with the most pressing repairs. It should be an interesting spring and summer.

No doubt, a few who see the house will think I’ve lost my mind for taking on such a project, but in fact, I think the house will help me to keep it. It’s probably no great secret that Don’s death has taken a huge toll on my interest in just about everything. For a creative person who has worked at all kinds of jobs and on many different projects, the past 18 or so months have seemed almost pointless to me. Regardless, I’ve pushed on, trying to keep going, with the hope that some day in the future, I would begin to feel something again. It appears that this place may be it. Since deciding to buy the property, most mornings I wake up feeling like I’ve made the right choice. The northward trek which I’d actually come to dread, now seems not so daunting as there is something interesting waiting at the end of the trail. In about a month, we’ll arrive in Nova Scotia to discover whether I’m right – whether this is the place. At that time, I will begin to post photos and may create a place on the net to document the history of the house along with my efforts towards its restoration.

view to the top – average height is 50 to 85 meters (165 to 280 feet)

Now, about these Giant Sequoia (Sequoiadendron giganteum)! Last November, on my way to Arizona, I made a detour of monumental proportion. After leaving Red Rock Canyon, I turned away from my southward progress and journeyed up along the Kern River to the heart of the Sierras – home of the Sequoia. The decision to do more wandering before moving on to Arizona was made at Red Rock, in part because I was early arriving this far south — I had a couple of weeks or so to wait before I could move in at the house which I rent here in Bisbee. The dogs seemed very heat stressed once we got that far south, and life in a van can be difficult. Also, due to bad weather earlier in the trip, I’d decided not to go out to the coast. Now, the weather was looking good for awhile, so I turned in that direction with the intention of spending some time in the redwoods and going up as far as the Oregon coast to revisit the places I took Don to see when he came west to meet up with me and trip around in the autumn of 2006. Visiting the Sequoia was a special experience for me, and for my friend who had not been to see them in almost fifty years.

the cones of the Giant Sequoia are quite small – about 4 to 7 cm long (1.5 to 2.75 inches)

Our visit was late in the season, so there were few people around. We camped at a dispersed site beneath Ponderosa pine. We stopped at Trail of 100 Giants to see and photograph the trees. The trees in this grove are not among the largest Sequoia, but they are impressive and what’s a few feet in diameter when comparing giants? It seems amazing to find them growing at such an altitude in the western Sierras — such a different environment than the misty home of the their relations, the Coast Redwood (Sequoia sempervirens). These trees look and feel ancient – the oldest in this grove are estimated to be about 1500 years old, but other examples of this species found only in a small region of the Sierras, are calculated to be in excess of 3000 years in age. We continued on the next day, descending through canyons cloaked with some of the richest growth of Manzanita that I’ve seen anywhere in my travels. It was good to visit the Sequoia and to make this return visit possible for my friend.

Written by bev on March 17th, 2010

17 Responses to 'among the sequoia – and some news'

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  1. Very exciting news about your house in Nova Scotia, bev. It sounds like it has all the right possibilities to keep you totally engaged. Can’t wait to see the pics you’ll post when you do finally get there and take a good look around.

    We have never been to the Trail of 100 Giants, but have hiked around the Giant Sequoias just south of Yosemite. They are absolutely stunningly huge and awe-inspiring trees. I think it is nearly impossible to capture the magnitude of their presence with a photograph, but your photos really do convey some of that. You remind me that I’ve been wanting to explore the area of California where the Bristlecone Pines are. I long to touch a tree that has been alive for thousands and thousands of years.

    robin andrea

    17 Mar 10 at 12:16 pm

  2. Sounds very promising, Bev — I hope it turns to be the thing that returns your zest for life. Travel safe.

    Dave

    17 Mar 10 at 8:18 pm

  3. Your life is like a novel, and, as in a good novel, there appears to be light in the distance.

    I can hardly wait to read the next chapter.

    Mark

    18 Mar 10 at 8:35 am

  4. robin – Trail of 100 Giants is a beautiful spot, but is sort of odd in the respect that it has pavement pathways throughout – it’s been built to be wheelchair accessible, so there are tons of paved switchback paths. That said, it’s still got that magic that you find among the big trees anywhere in the PNW. Worth a visit if you are ever in that part of the Sierras.

    Dave – I hope so too. Thanks!

    Mark – I’m glad you added the “good novel” part to your comment. I have a friend who had a very serious head injury from which many people would not recover. Now, she lives her life to the limit – physically and intellectually. Her motto is “live epic”. I guess that, in my own way, that’s the motto by which I live too now.

    bev

    18 Mar 10 at 9:55 am

  5. That’s the way I bought my house in West Virginia 11 years ago–from a distance, and based on the setting, not the house. It’s worked out very well, although it turned out to be cheaper to replace the house than repair it. But that’s been fun too.

    I hope your project brings many and unforeseen pleasures!

    Rebecca Clayton

    18 Mar 10 at 11:36 am

  6. Rebecca – Interesting that you bought your place at a distance too. Most people I’ve mentioned this to seem almost shocked, but this feels very right. However, I won’t be at all surprised if the house situation might be the same in this case. That said, you’re quite right — that can actually be part of the fun. I’m quite looking forward to arriving in Nova Scotia to meet the house.

    bev

    18 Mar 10 at 4:46 pm

  7. Bev, your friend hit it on the head: “Live epic!” I know you’ll make the Nova Scotia place a wonderful place to be.

    John

    19 Mar 10 at 6:44 pm

  8. This is such pleasant news. I’ve not read the above comments but I know that everyone who knows and cares about you, Bev – will be heartened to hear that your new home waits at the end of your journey.

    What a setting. A brook. Perfect. I imagine the pups will be very pleased for a place to splash about in.

    Safe travels. Hopefully you’ll encounter lovely spring along your way. It’s just believably arrived in northern Ohio. Whew.

    Cathy Wilson

    19 Mar 10 at 7:42 pm

  9. A family tree can wither if nobody tends it’s roots

    Randall

    20 Mar 10 at 6:09 am

  10. Around 2002, my friend and I had bought a little ‘camp’, not even winterized, in the Northeast Kingdom (Vermont). We had fallen in love with … the view from its deck. Through the years, everything bad that could happened with the house did (first winter, the entire plumbing exploded; electrical problems, wood stove was worthless, had to be changed, leaky roof, and more). But through it all, because our bond to the place, to its magic, was so strong, we never gave up, and have loved being there. It was a place of abundant life – flora and fauna wise. And I have always liked houses that have a life of their own, houses that become beings. This year the house will be put on the market, new chapter in our lives, moving on. But such is life. It is passages. I wish you strong deep connections with that place you are about to become the steward of. House, flora and fauna. Although I have not commented, I read all your posts. They are the real stuff. Thank you.

    Suzanne

    20 Mar 10 at 6:51 am

  11. John – I hope so. I want it to be a place where friends can drop in and feel at home. Might take some work, but I believe it will happen.

    Cathy – I’m almost certain the dogs will love this place. The property is deep and rambling and the house has almost no steps up and down, which Sabrina will love (she doesn’t do stairs too well). Having this place waiting at the end of the trail seems so important this year.

    Randall – Well, that’s true. I know you are commenting on genealogy, but that’s actually true of old houses too.

    Suzanne – Thank you for your kind words. How very true of houses that have a life of their own. Last night, I came upon a quote in a house restoration book and it struck me as so right: I want a house that has got over all its troubles; I don’t want to spend the rest of my life bringing up a young and inexperienced house.” – Jerome K. Jerome
    I’m sorry to read that you will be selling your place this year, but I understand so well about new chapters in our lives. If there is one thing that I have learned through experience, it is to recognize when it is time to close one chapter and begin another. Good luck with everything as you move forward.

    bev

    20 Mar 10 at 10:12 am

  12. Bev, congratulations on your little spot of heaven in Nova Scotia; the brook that runs through it sounds really sweet. To quote Oliver Wendell Holmes, “Where we love is home –home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts.” I hope this one quickly winds itself around your heart and that you always look forward to returning to it after your winter ramblings.

    Marni

    21 Mar 10 at 5:40 am

  13. Marni – thanks for the well wishes and the O.W. Holmes quote. Although I know the house will be quite a challenge, I’m sure that this place will come to feel like home for us. I feel that pull already.

    bev

    22 Mar 10 at 11:11 am

  14. Congrats, Bev, on your new place. I’ve been through that area a few times, it’s beautiful. I don’t think 2 acres would be very limiting, considering the surroundings. The diversity in the region is outstanding.

    Peter

    23 Mar 10 at 9:55 am

  15. Hi Peter – Thanks! You’re right, it’s a beautiful area. I’m pretty sure that the 2 acres will seem fine, especially with the river going along the property. I had the agent shoot 360 degree video clips for me and it looked terrific – and that was with bare trees and no vegetation. I’m looking forward to exploring the area and seeing just what kinds of moths, dragonflies, and other creatures live on or near the property. As I may have mentioned above, it looks like there is a path along the opposite side of Round Hill Brook going south, so that may provide a nice place to go for a walk almost right at our doorstep. Can’t wait to find out! (-:

    bev

    23 Mar 10 at 11:15 am

  16. Great to know that you have found a place for you and Sabrina and Sage in Nova Scotia!!

    My new/old job limits my blog visiting and comment time these days, but I do want to keep in touch.

    Loved your Giant Sequoia photos. There are three relatively young Giant Sequoias that were planted in Whatcom Falls Park here in Bellingham several generations ago. I was so happy to recognize them one day about 20 years ago. This isn’t the best climate or altitude for them but they keep on keeping on.

    am

    24 Mar 10 at 10:48 pm

  17. am – Thanks! I’m sure it will be a great spot — the house is less of a certainty, but if need be, we’ll “camp out” on the property while I work on the place. If there’s one thing the three of us have learned a lot about, it’s camping out with the van!
    Congratulations about the “new/old job”. Sounds fantastic.
    When I was reading up on the Giant Sequoia, I came across several references to trees that are growing in other parts of the country beyond their normal range. It seems as though some of them are doing quite well. Perhaps they’re more adaptable than we might expect.

    bev

    26 Mar 10 at 7:13 am

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