Sunday, December 28, 2008

Chocolate biscotti

Seems I hadn't posted this chocolate biscotti recipe afterall when I posted the cranberry-almond and gingerbread biscotti recipes a few Christmases ago. They make a nice 'set' and, at this time of year, I make mini-versions for the Christmas tea circuit.

Chocolate Chunk Biscotti
1 1/2 c white flour
1/2 c cocoa powder
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 c semi-sweet chocolate chunks
2 eggs
3/4 c sugar
1/3 c melted butter
2 tsp vanilla (plus optional: dissolve 1 Tbsp instant coffee granules in vanilla)

Mix dry ingredients in one bowl. Mix wet in another with whisk. Add liquid to dry. Mix until soft dough forms. Transfer to lightly floured surface. Form into a smooth, non-sticky ball. Divide dough in half; roll each into foot-long log. Transfer to baking sheet. Bake at 350F for 20 minutes. Remove from oven, let cool on pan for 30 minutes. Transfer each log to cutting board; cut diagonally 3/4 inch thick. Stand cookies upright with space between them on cookie tray. Bake again for 20 to 25 minutes. Cool on rack.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Cranberry-pecan loaf

Just like most families, we've got some traditional recipes that we haul out for the holidays. I've previous posted my chocolate, cranberry-orange and gingerbread Christmas biscotti recipes, but just realized I hadn't yet posted this one.

Nothing particularly Bay of Fundy-ish about this loaf (though we do have wild and cultivated cranberries growing around the bay) - it's just a nice, festive loaf to give as a Christmas party hostess gift.

Cranberry Pecan Loaf
3 c white flour
1 1/2 c sugar
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp salt
3/4 tsp baking soda
3/8 c shortening
2 tsp grated orange peel
1/2 c orange juice (or, if using dried cranberries add an extra 1/4 c orange juice)
2 beaten eggs
1 1/2 c coarsely chopped cranberries (fresh or frozen) or dried cranberries
1 1/2 c chopped pecans (or mixed nuts)

Sift dry ingredients. Cut in shortening until well blended. Mix peel with juice and egg. Add liquids to dry, mix to just moisten. Fold in berries and nuts. Pour into greased loaf pan. Bake at 350 - 45 mins for fresh or frozen cranberries, 10 minutes more with dried cranberries. Let cool overnight for easy slicing. Makes one large loaf or two small (such as with my twin toblerone-shaped pans, pictured above).

Monday, December 15, 2008

Big moon & crazy winds = wild tides!

It's been a crazy couple of days of 'natural effects' here in the Bay of Fundy. The moon this weekend was in much greater proximity to earth than it normally is. Usually it's orbiting at an average distance of 384,400 kilometres (238,855 miles) around the earth but on Friday it was 17,000 km (10,560 miles) closer to earth than usual.

Not only is that enough to make the moon look bigger and brighter, but it also strengthens the moon's gravitational pull - causing even higher tides in our already high-tide bay. Also it's been wildly windy for the past couple of days.

Sadly for me, I was traveling away from the Bay during this convergence of natural factors (just the kind of weather I enjoy!!) but my friend Trish from Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia, was wandering about with her trusty camera. Here's one of her images of the town's waterfront area during the height of the tide. Not to fear, that church is actually quite far from the water's edge, it's just Trish's zoom lens collapsing perspective and making the church look like it might just float away on the tide!!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

We like our trees BIG here in Fundy

Most rural Bay of Fundy residents make an annual trek to the woods each December to chop a fresh tree for the holidays. Allergy issues aside, it's always great to see a 'real' tree...reminds me of the debate between our region's real maple syrup and fake 'table syrup'.

Great to see 'real' win over 'plastic' in the Fundy city of Saint John, New Brunswick as well. Check out this massive (3-storey high) fir tree outside the entrance to the New Brunswick Museum in courtyard of Market Square (Uptown Saint John) ~ now that's what I call one purdy Christmas tree!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Funny Fundy face

My niece and I were recently out exploring a Bay of Fundy basalt beachscape when we came upon these two holes 'drilled' in the rock. Couldn't resist the temptation to create a happy face with the materials we had at hand - shells and seaweed. Simple fun at the seashore! Should amuse the next, assuming the tide doesn't wash it away in the meantime.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Fundy-themed gift idea

It seems that everyone (including gas stations and cell phone services) is in the business of proffering Christmas gift ideas so I though I'd get in the game. In addition recommending that you support our many potters, weavers, painters, jewelry makers, etc. around the Bay of Fundy, there are also many writers whose books might interest you.

Here's a delightful one just released in time for Christmas:
A Maritime Christmas: New Stories & Memories of the Season.

It's a fun collection of maritime-themed stories edited by well-known folklorist, Clary Croft, and published by the always fabulous regional book company: Nimbus.

I picked up this book for a family member (who shall remain nameless...shhhh, it's a secret) on the weekend and took it for a little test drive. My favourite story is the one by Chris Mills. In When Santa Came to Gannet Rock, Chris tells of the season he and a co-worker were stuck in a Bay of Fundy lighthouse. They use their radio to help steer Santa toward Gannet Rock while local children listened in. The kids get involved by calling in with messages of encouragement for Santa...too cute!

For other Fundy-themed book ideas, check the Books & Poetry tab.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Garden of Lights & Festival of Trees

As winter approaches here around the Bay of Fundy, there are many community celebrations. Here's an enchanting one in St Andrews: the annual Season of Light & Wonder.

St Andrew's fabulous garden, Kingsbrae Garden, is an enthusiastic participant with its Garden of Lights & Festival of Trees. It's a great chance to explore the sparkling evening gardens as they nestle in for winter. Garden visitors can also bid on their favorite decorated Christmas trees, with all donations going to the county food bank. The Garden's lovely cafe is open throughout the festival with its regular weekly chef's specials as well as a festive menu of seasonal treats (love the mulled cider and gingerbread men!). Enjoy the season!

Photo credit: Stephen MacGillivray, courtesy of Kingsbrae Garden.
If you know of a Fundy community winter event - preferably one that lasts more than a day, that would interest our blog readers, please email me with a photo & description -

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Sri Lankans learn about Fundy

As a keen Bay of Fundy groupie myself, I often come across Fundy-themed articles and blog references especially by travelers.

It's always great to see visitors' perspectives of our bay. Take, for example, this article that appeared in the Sunday Times in Sri Lanka this week. It's a nicely researched article (whose writer actually visited Fundy). I was amused, though, that our friend from Sri Lanka noted the importance of wearing a coat to the beach - seems she found it a bit cold here (perhaps compared to Sri Lanka) even in summer!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Bring out the Stanfields

Since we're on the topic of historic Bay of Fundy companies and also winter approaching, I'd be remiss in not mentioning Stanfield's: the Underwear Company. Based in Truro, Nova Scotia, Stanfield's has been making apparel for Canadians since 1856!!

Known originally for their fabulous longjohns (see photo), the company now makes a full array of layers for durability & performance year round. These days, with so many people dressing poorly for winter then complaining about being cold, I'm all for bringing back longjohns...think of them as 'country goes city chique'!

And here's a little known fact: Stanfield's has a really great factory outlet on Logan Street in Truro - open daily, Tues-Sat, year round.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Have you hugged a lobster lately?

Lobster season is underway again in the Bay of Fundy and neighboring regions. In tough economic times, not only does the price of gasoline lowers due to lack of demand...the price of lobster also takes a kicking. Lobster, it seems, is perceived as a luxury food.

The tricky bit is when prices get so low that it costs more to catch lobsters than they sell for retail. Wholesale lobster prices are sitting at about half of what they were last year - this is a serious concern for our region. In a effort to support our rurally-based lobster fishery, I'm doing my personal best to increase demand by buying lobster every week. So hug a lobster, or, if you don't care for lobster, hug a lobster fisherman - he (or she) can probably use the encouragement!!

Friday, November 21, 2008

The start of our storybook winter?

One of the things I really like about living here is our four 'story book' seasons: spring's buds & blooms, summer's warmth and verdant greens, fall's flash of leaf colours, and winter's white.

It's actually quite early to have snow here on the Bay of Fundy (most of the time we just squeek in our first snowfall a couple days before Christmas) but we had a freak snow storm yesterday!

It was the big fluffy snow - my favourite! that burdens trees and neutralizes the forest into a black & white. Here's photo taken from my car window. Sadly, this morning it all seems to be melting away....well, nice while it lasted!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Bay of Fundy car ad?

With so many attractive and accessible beachscapes around the Bay of Fundy, I've often wondered why our region doesn't get selected more often as car ad shooting location...I mean really, there are only so many ways they can keep showing the desert...

As far as I know, Bay of Fundy has only been used once officially for car promo: GM truck road tests at Cape d'Or Lighthouse in Advocate Harbour back in Nov. 2006 (only a couple months after I started this blog).

So, to show the potential of this, I took it upon myself to create this sample Volkwwagon promo photo of me and my beetle. With a bit of practice, I even mastered the frozen Barbie smile - well, the cool November weather helped!

Monday, November 17, 2008

One BIG Bay of Fundy fishie!

It's not uncommon during lobster fishing season that traps or lines sometime attract other little sea creatures. However, a couple Bay of Fundy fishermen in Alma, New Brunswick, encountered a first last week: the discovery of a 28 foot long, 4000 lb. basking shark mixed up in their lines.

Basking sharks are the world's 2nd largest fish and are found in all the world's temperate oceans. You needn't worry about encountering one and the beach though...they are slow moving and harmless (doesn't have teeth like its cousin, the Great White). It's called a basking shark because it's most often observed when feeding at the surface where it appears to be leisurely basking.

Unfortunately, the guys weren't able to free this one before it died of a struggle. Gear entanglements are not this shark's biggest threat though... elsewhere in the world it is overfished for its valuable fins, flesh & organs. Thanks to Doug Watson for this photo!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Where's the big wall of water?

There's no doubt that the top question visitors ask when visiting the Bay of Fundy is: Where do I go to 'see' the tides?

The answer to this question may not be what you think. Before visiting Fundy, most people know two things:
1. that we have the highest tides in the world (with a vertical height of 50 ft/16 metres)
2. that we have tidal bores or rapids of some sort

Unfortunately, tourists often put these two facts together as one thought and then expect to see a 50 ft 'wall of water' or tidal wave gushing into our bay 2x day.

Fundy residents know that there's no tsunami-style wall of water here. In fact, the places where you can see the rapids & bores (like Reversing Falls in Saint John, New Brunswick and Shubenacadie River in Nova Scotia) are not always the best places to see the full vertical effect of the tides (the many Fundy wharves where boats sit on the ground at low tide).

And, at the risk of confusing our poor visitors, there is a third tidal effect (somewhat unsung) which is every bit as impressive:
3. the horizontal effect - places where low tides exposes miles and miles of dry ocean floor.

In truth, when the tide comes in it often laps gently on windless days or is a bit more turbulent on windy days (and during hurricanes). Here's a photo I took a few days ago in the fog just as the tide turned at low tide and started to come back in. Not the wall of water but no less beautiful and amazing a phenomenon that can take your breath away...

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Bay of Fundy inspires hooked rugs

I've long contended that life here by the ever-moving ocean stirs up the creativity of our residents. This is why my blog, which is essentially about the tides, also has sections on art and books & poetry! My grandmothers were both rug hookers and quilters so I confess to an early fascination with 'textile' art. Imagine my delight when I ran into rug designer and rug hooker, Vicki Graham, at a recent blogger's workshop (of all places!).

A note from Vicki to accompany this fine image of one of her Fundy-themed rugs....I live on beautiful Brier Island and started rug hooking when a friend introduced me to the traditional art of rug making. Over the years my interests have evolved into one-of-a-kind hooked, specially dyed rugs that have found homes all around the world. This is one is called "My Love", which I designed and hooked for my husband (a fisherman).

Vicki is also a member of the Fundy Region Hooking Group and teaches rug hooking with the Nova Scotia Rug Hooking Guild. Check out Vicki's website (and soon to be, new blog!)

If you know of a Fundy artisan that you think I'd like to meet, please email me at

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Holding fast on the ocean floor

Given the choice, I'd much rather walk our Bay of Fundy beaches at low tide than high. At high tide they are pretty pebble, sand or cobble beaches just as lovely as any other coastal locations in the world.

At low tide, however, the receding tide peels back an amazing view of life on the ocean floor. It's a habitat to which even our seaweed has adapted. This photo shows seaweed holding fast to a fist-sized rock throughout the tide cycle. It bakes during the exposed heat of the afternoon and six hours later rolls the ocean floor under 40 feet of turbulent tide. Twice a day, every day, all year long.

Friday, November 07, 2008

High - low tide Parrsboro harbour

Some people collect tea cups. Some people collect coins. I collect sets of high-low tide pictures of the Bay of Fundy....I suppose it has to do with always wanting to have images at hand to share with visitors who don't have time to stay for the 6 hrs between high and low tide. I was just cleaning out my massive collection of Fundy photos (over 2000 in 08 -- eek!) when I came across this high-low tide set of the Parrsboro, Nova Scotia wharf. It's a classic boats-on-the-dry-ocean-floor-at-low tide Fundy image but I never get tired of seeing it....and neither do our visitors!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Strange Fundy ritual

If you live around Fundy you'll know that our tidal waters are a teensy bit on the cool side - a result, no doubt, of a fresh batch of Atlantic ocean water coming in twice a day with the tides.

But, undaunted, we locals certainly swim or, at least, wade in the tide. When I was growing up, there was an older local gentleman who went to the wharf every day, year round, to soak his legs at high tide 'for arthritis'...em, to get arthritis surely...not to cure it! Little local kids will stay in for hours in the summer especially when the tide rolls in late afternoon over the sun-baked mud flats.

Last week I had a note from Kathleen Gidney down in the Digby Area who said she's made the idea of a dip in Fundy cool tides into a fun challenge for visitors participating in her scenic tours. A level 1 challenge is Fundy water up to the ankles; level 2 is up to the knees; level 3 is, well, not usually recommended for visitors without paramedics on hand!! Kathleen issues an "I survived the Fundy Challenge" certificate to all who get up the nerve to take the Level 1 & 2 challenge like the brave U.K. visitor in this photo. Fun!

Monday, November 03, 2008

Fundy dulse harvest makes national news

Well, it must have been a slow news day in Toronto last week - Fundy dulse pickers got a nice spread in the Globe & Mail, Canada's national newspaper - right on! It's actually a brilliant article about one of Fundy's best known dulsing grounds: Dark Harbour on Grand Manan Island.

Although I've previously mentioned hand harvesting dulse as a bit of a hobby, the commercial harvest of dulse is anything but leisurely and glamorous!!

Tory Zimmerman's article is accompanied by a great short video/still documentary that really gives a sense of this lifestyle fishery - a window into one of our many Fundy worlds.

Blog photo credit: Laurie Murison, Grand Manan Whale Research site.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

A poem from Fables of Fundy

A friend of mine recently discovered this fine little book of poetry in the 'free' bin at a garage sale - imagine! It's entitled: Funny Fables of Fundy & Other Poems For Children, written and illustrated by Grace Helen Mowat, published in 1928. Ms Mowat appears to have been from the Fundy city, Saint John, New Brunswick. Here's a sample poem...from a kindred spirit!

The Bay of Fundy

I like the Bay of Fundy,
Where the tides creep up the strand,
With driftwood for the fire,
And rockweed for the land.
From Yarmouth to Chignecto, around and back again,
They reach the Quoddy Islands and wash the shores of Maine.

I like the Bay of Fundy,
Where sandstone Islands wait
The rosy kiss of sunset,
Beside the western gate.
And up the inland rivers, that seek the Fundy tides
A pleasant land of apple trees and happy homes abides.

I like the Bay of Fundy -
For when the tide is out,
So many wonders of the deep
Are scattered all about.
Oh, happy Bay of Fundy; for there for evermore
Children find their fairy lands beside its lovely shore!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The ghost of Hopewell Rocks?

Just after inviting folks to submit ideas for guest posts a few days ago, I received this note from an anonymous reader about the possibility of ghost roaming around - not in an old Fundy sea captain's house but - on the beach at Hopewell Rocks no less! Check this out:

Five years ago, I was visiting Hopewell Rocks and saw a ghost, or something. I was walking along the low tide beach and saw a man caught up in a tangle of maybe barbed wire or driftwood (?). There were lots of people around but it seemd that no one else could see it. I literally shook my head and rubbed my eyes but it was still there! It disappeared when I walked toward it. It was incredibly unsettling. Have you ever heard of anyone having a similar experience?

Now I can't say as I have heard about a resident ghost at The Rocks. If you have, please feel free to comment!!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Smile....Fundy's on camera!

There's probably no better way for us locals to really appreciate the Bay of Fundy than by hanging out with folks who are making their first visit here. In my job I'm often called upon to host visiting travel writers, photographers or videographers.

I still remember taking a group of travel writers down to our local fish weir - in particular, a writer from the New York Times who was nearly moved to tears upon witnessing this low-tech, historic "loaves n' fishes" way of capturing fish from Fundy's tides. In fact, it was such fascination with our lives here on Fundy that led me to think a blog about my ordinary could be your extraordinary. Perhaps that's the reason behind the wild growth of blogs on the internet.

Yesterday, I was thrilled to welcome to the Fundy shore my friend Steve Wright, with Brand Canada, and his merry duo of videographers, Matt & Brett. These boys were in the area filming some upcoming Fundy ads and we had great fun walking down on the ocean floor by the lighthouse for a couple hours before the tide came in behind us!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Happy blogday Bay of Fundy!

I'm celebrating a very exciting event on my blog today: my 400th post about the Bay of Fundy. When I started this blog two years, I was worried I'd run out of things to say about our beautiful bay...oh but no!! It's been great fun connecting both with Fundy visitors and networking in the blogosphere with Fundy residents throughout the Bay.

With a view ahead, I'd like to add a new feature to my blog: guest posts! I've be dabbling in these already with Fundy dogs and in the nature section with reports from two horticultural gardens in the region but I'd like to more formally invite you to send me a note and a photo. You can use the general blog categories for ideas.

I live in the upper Bay and, though I travel a fair bit around the whole bay, I'd love to hear more about life and times in the Fundy Isles/Passamaquoddy as well as Digby Neck & Islands in addition to your general observations from anywhere around the bay.

Email me:

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Nifty Bay of Fundy tide height map

Maps of our fabulous but somewhat complicated bay are really helpful to have. I've previously posted maps for our lobster season, the blueberry harvesting zones and to dispel myths about Fundy's location and the weather 'up' here!

Here's another map: this one from NOAA, the U.S.'s National Ocean & Atmospheric Administration. This map depicts the depth of the tide throughout the Bay...since the undersea floor of Fundy gets shallower as the tide moves further up the bay, the tides are force 'up' which is what creates the 46 to 49 ft (14 to 15 metre) tides in the two smaller bays of Fundy (top right of this photo). To put that in perspective, the Fundy tides are then 5x higher than the rest of the tides on the east coast of North America and the rest of the world!

NOAA does lots of cool ocean research on the east coast. You may recall my friend Carl, who works for NOAA, sending me some aerial Fundy photos when he flew up here to check on the progress of renos to one of his "hurricane hunter' airplanes.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Can you eat wild portulaca?

The Bay of Fundy offers up a plethora of strange edibles: dulse, goosetongue greens, periwinkles, etc. Sometimes these are things that normal people walk by a zillion times at the beach and just never consider eating. I'm a big fan of 'eating local' so I'm often wondering if there are other seaside culinary delights to invite to the plate.

Take this wild portulaca in my photos, for example. It's a typical sight in our salt marsh fringes. About 10 years ago, I remember taking an interpretive walk with a Mi'kmaw 'medicine woman' (as she called herself) who said just about everything colourful on the beach was edible!

So I'm wondering if any of my readers know: a) the proper name for the plant I'm calling wild portulaca, b) if it is edible, and, if so in what format (steamed?), and c) when best to harvest: these two photos are summer (green) and fall (red). Please feel free to let me know via the comment option. Thanks!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Fundy's glorious fall leaves

Truly, there is no better place in eastern Canada to see the autumn leaves than around the shores of the Bay of Fundy. The Bay is fringed by mixed hard and softwood forest which makes for some striking colour combinations: the brilliant yellow, orange and reds of maples and birches interspersed with dark spruce greens.

And... the added bonus of living in maple/blueberry country is blueberry bushes blasting forth with crimson leaves at this time of year. Took this photo this morning!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Fundy for 7 Wonders Quest Continues

This is so adorable...after a great article appeared in the Sunday Chronicle Herald (about our quest to have the Bay of Fundy become a "New7Wonder of Nature") I received a phonecall during turkey dinner from a 90-year old lady in Halifax wondering what she could do to make Fundy win!! She doesn't have internet so she can't vote but she really lifted my spirits and made me think that Fundy can absolutely win the first round of this contest. There is so much support out there!

The most pressing milestone is Dec. 31, 2008, when ONE Canadian site (from 5 that made the short list) will be selected to continue on to the next round of this international contest). If you haven't already voted, please VOTE FUNDY soon!

Oh yes, the contest (and Fundy!) was also mentioned by CTV's Travel Expert, Loren Christie, on a recent episode of Canada AM.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Ocean speed limit set to protect whales

Here's a bit of good news for Right whales that's been a long time coming: on the United States' Atlantic coast this week, a speed limit of 11 knots has been set for ships 65 feet or longer that travel within 23 miles of major ports, as well as in areas where the North Atlantic Right whale breeds, feeds and migrates.

This is of particular interest to the Bay of Fundy because Right whales (migrating to their summer feeding here from the U.S. coasts of Georgia & North Carolina) swim by all those major U.S. ports. Northern Right whales are an endangered species (only 300 to 400 remain) and their most serious threat is ship strikes, which kill 1 to 2 whales per year.

For more info, check out the group that spearheaded this initiative, the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration - NOAA's website.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Squares

One of my favourite treats to offer returning relatives on Thanksgiving weekend is pumpkin choc chip squares: proof that anything takes better when chocolate is involved!

Pumpkin-Chocolate Chip Squares
2 1/4 c. white flour
2 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking sode
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
4 beaten eggs
1/2 c white sugar
1 c brown sugar
1/2 c butter
2 c. pure cooked pumpkin (canned OK)
1 c. mini chocolate chips

Sift first 5 ingredients together in one bowl. Mix wet ingredients in another bowl. Combine. Fold in choc chips. Cook in a 9 x 13 pan, 325 degrees F, for about 45 minutes.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

The mysterious Isle Haute

There's a mysterious island out in the middle of the upper Bay of Fundy that is the subject of some curiosity around here. Isle Haute is easily seen off the coast of Advocate Harbour & Morden on the Nova Scotia side of the bay, and also from Alma on the New Brunswick side.

Here are a few intriguing facts/rumours/folklore I've heard about Isle Haute:

  1. there is buried treasure out there, dating from the 1700s. Check out an interesting article published in a local newspaper about this last month.
  2. the island is topped by a huge fresh water lake - not true according to an Acadia Univ. biologist I recently discussed this with!
  3. it was named by Samuel de Champlain (the first European adventurer - from France - who claimed to discover and settle the area in 1604). This makes sense: Isle meaning "island" in French, Haute meaning 'high'...tho' we locals tend say: "Isla Haute" for some reason...its basalt cliffs are about 320 ft high!
  4. wild potatoes have been growing there for several hundred years (and were noted by the area's first peoples: the Mi'kmaq).
  5. there are no wild animals out on the island any larger than a mouse.
  6. the island was using as a training site by the Canadian airforce during the 2nd world war.
  7. once used as a picnic location by many Fundy families, the island is now mostly just visited by researchers studying the plant life, birds, etc.
I don't have a boat that can get me safely into the one safe access point on the island (did I mention all the shipwrecks!) so I must share a couple photos I took recently from the mainland side. If any readers know of other myths about Isle Haute or, if you have photos to share from the island itself, please feel free to email me:

Monday, October 06, 2008

Tumbled beach at French Cross

As you can imagine, the 100 billion tonnes of sea water that moves in and out of the Bay of Fundy impacts our beaches in a variety of ways. Here's an interesting example of how Fundy's waves grab craigy pillars of basalt off the tall cliffs then tumbled them on the beach below. The result?... smooth, giant pebbles such as these at French Cross in Morden, Nova Scotia.

Check out the beachscapes tab here on my blog for more images of beaches like sculpted sandstone, sandy, mud flats, and reefed beaches.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Fundy seabird may hold key to aging & cancer

Here's a random bit of Bay of Fundy science news: one of our sea birds, the storm-petrel, may hold the key to why some animals live longer, healthier lives while others survive only a few years

You don't need to be a scientist to observe that there is usually a relationship between body size and life span: elephants live longer humans, humans live longer than mice, etc. So storm-petrels (about the size of a robin) shouldn’t live long, but they actually live about 40 years.

Scientist Mark Haussmann, an assistant professor of biology at Bucknell University (Pensylvania, U.S.A.), has been researching Leach's storm-petrels at the Bay of Fundy's Kent Island. His studies show that storm-petrels have certain DNA characteristics – specifically lengths of the protective telomeres at the tips of DNA – that are associated with species that live longer lives and possibly with how susceptible they are to cancer-causing tumors. His work may have far-reaching implications with our understanding of the factors contributing to aging and cancer growth.

By the way, Kent Island, New Brunswick, was purchased as a sanctuary to save the dwindling eider duck population and a scientific research centre was later established by Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine. Lots of cool stuff going on at the biological field station at Kent Island (5.4 miles/9 km south of Grand Manan Island).

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Look what the tide dragged in...

We caught the tail end of hurricane a couple days ago here in the Bay of Fundy. These storms have several interesting effects on our bay:
- they're usually preceded with a few days of warm, tropical winds
- they often cause 'storm surges' (higher tides) if they happen to arrive near the high tide time
- their wild winds whip up 'activity' on our beaches. This could mean the smoothing of a previously rocky beach (or vice versa) or the deposit of something interesting, such as star fish, ice pebbles or even a catch of regular fish.

On my daily dog walk just after this storm I spied apples entangled in a mile-long stretch of wrack line (the row of flotsam left when the tide turns to go back out). Presumably the hurricane swept apples off some distant trees (there are no apple trees anywhere near this beach) then brought them in with the heavy tides.

Here's a photo of Belle, my yellow lab, looking as puzzled as I was with this unique find!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Lobster ice cream

In recent years it's become quite a popular pastime for people to make their own ice cream at home. If you are so inclined, you may wish to consider making Lobster Ice Cream. Yes, it is technically possible to take lobster meat (fresh cooked is good but canned is fine too), douse it in butter then fold it into ice cream while you churn it.

We've got an abundance of lobster here around the Bay of Fundy, yet I don't know of any Fundy restaurants who serve this commercially (yet). In the meantime, Ben & Bill's Chocolate Emporium in nearby Bar Harbor, Maine sells a good volume of it! You can order it off their website.

Since its debut, Ben & Bill's Lobster Ice Cream has been featured in numerous newspaper and magazine articles, and has been featured on the Food Network's Roker on the Road, Road Tested, and on The Today Show.

(photo credit: Ben & Bill's)

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Right whale article in National Geographic

The endangered North Atlantic Right whales that feed in the Bay of Fundy every summer and fall as part of their annual migration are of great interest not only to our visitors, whale researchers and conservationists but also to nature writers.

Over the past two years, staff at the New England Aquarium have spent a great deal of time with a writer & photographer who were dedicated to learning about the plight of Right whales. This research culminated in a Right whale feature in the October 2008 issue of National Geographic. It's a stunningly beautiful and compellingly written article that will teach many more people about these magnificent creatures and their struggle for survival. (Neanderthal Man is on the issue's cover if you look for it on a magazine stand!).

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Bay of Fundy in your mouth...brush thoroughly!

Here's a quirky fact for the strange but true section of my blog: if you are using toothpaste in North America there is a fair possibility that you are putting a small part of the Bay of Fundy in your mouth every day....

A section of our Bay that was once a tropical sea (during the Carboniferous period of geological time) is now a massive sedimentary deposit of gypsum. This is quite visible here, even from the roadside, as raw gypsum cliffs. I took this photo just off the 102 highway at St Croix near Windsor, Nova Scotia.

Our Fundy gypsum is shipped to the United States where, in addition to being made into wall board for construction (think: Gyprock), it is purified and (small amounts) are used in the making of toothpaste. So, the next time you brush your teeth give us your biggest Bay of Fundy smile! :o)

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Bay of Fundy widow's walk

In addition to Queen Anne and Victorian-inspired architectural features, Bay of Fundy sea captain's houses are also known for their "widow's walks". Widow's walks are railed rooftop platforms originally designed to enable those remaining at home to watch vessels at sea. Since so many ships and crew were lost during the Age of Sail, this design feature ended up being named after the widows left behind.

All folklore aside, there's also a practical reason for these platforms: they are often built around or near the home's chimney which allows for easy access in the event of a chimney fire. Historically - before fire departments - residents poured sand down a chimney to smother flue fires. Lots of room for buckets of sand atop this Fundy house I recently photographed!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Tree pumpkins

You don't have to go very far around the Bay of Fundy to notice it's harvest time again. Farm markets burgeon with all types of produce, farmers' fields are full of fruit, and "you pick" stands for veggies and fruit are plentiful.

This week I was amused to see these photos from my friend Trish who works at the Historic Gardens in Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia: pumpkins growing in trees! Apparently staff had been dumping organic matter in a low area just off the garden's lookoff and there were, apparently, pumpkin seeds in the mix. The pumpkin vines wandered up a nearby tree and, voila, a couple pumpkins grew - making a funky pumpkin tree.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Can this be mud?

Although visitors to the Bay of Fundy are quite intent upon seeing the tide in at its full vertical height of 40ish feet, I am constantly intrigued by our shoreline at low tide - when our 100 billion tonnes of seawater is out bulging in the Atlantic ocean somewhere. It's at low tide that Fundy turns awesome if only you have the time and inclination to discover it.

This morning I took an early morning walk along the centuries old Acadian dykes at low tide from Port Williams to Wolfville, Nova Scotia. On one side of me, salt marsh and mud; on the other side, lush farmland. Not ideal weather for photography - the light was diffused by random clouds and early morning shadows - but Fundy surprised me again and the pictures took themselves. My photos of mud are usually ooey, gooey chocolatey but not this morning - today they were soft planks of pewter.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Lupines are back!

When we get a particularly long growing season like this year, lupines will sometimes made a second bloom in September or October. We were out hiking on Saturday when we noticed purple and white lupines boldly blooming alongside their unlikely autumn companions: choke cherries, goldenrod, and blackberries (see photo).

Most folks around the Bay of Fundy know lupines as one of our first wildflowers, usually making an appearance in mid-June - always in time to be the decorating flower of choice for our high school proms!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Drinking Fundy Mist

Tea drinkers who frequent specialty tea & coffee shops are likely aware of a fine little beverage: London Fog (also known as Vanilla Tea Misto). It consists of steamed milk, vanilla syrup and Earl Grey Tea. I was prowling the Bay of Fundy this week and ended up in a coffee shop (The Designer Cafe on Main Street in Kentville, Nova Scotia) where I discovered a fun Fundy-themed tea variation: Fundy Mist. This drink consists of steamed milk, hazelnut syrup and Chai tea (tea bag not latte gloop). It's the perfect drink for a fresh foggy/misty Fundy day!

By the way, their apple cinnamon buns or zucchini-chocolate chip muffins and regular panini n' fresh soup or salad options were also excellent!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Hang-gliding Fundy updrafts

I've previously mentioned how the Bay of Fundy's "updrafts" (caused when wind off the water hits the foot of our abrupt cliffs then bolts upward) sometimes cause cascading fog but I've not mentioned that the same winds blow well for hang-gliding and paragliding 'round these parts.

Last weekend, I chanced to catch these folks get 'lift off' from the cliff edge in Port Greville, Nova Scotia. If you know your Fundy geography you may recognize Cape Split there across the Minas Channel - just a few miles across by air but 3 hrs drive around!!

I believe these flyers were taking lessons with Pegasus Paragliding, Atlantic Canada's only paragliding school based a whole new meaning to 'go jump off a cliff'!

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Do Fundy shipbuilders build houses?

Although the Age of Sail has long since passed there is one extraordinary legacy that remains in villages, towns and cities throughout the Bay of Fundy: sea captain's houses.

The same folks who designed and built ships to sail around the world in the 1800s also tried their hand, very successfully, at domestic design. During the Age of Sail it was de rigueur that any ship's captain worth his salt had an appropriately grand, worldwide-travel-inspired home with a commanding view of his harbour.

I've previously posted about my own sea captain's house with its three-story turret and bay windows, and here's another fine example of Fundy ship's captain architecture: the St Martins Country Inn in St Martins, New Brunswick.

This home was built by Captain Vaughan in 1857, modeled after a home his wife had seen in the French Riveria! Design-wise this house has some typical sea captain's house features: two story 3-bay windows, mixed gables (those builders sure liked a challenge!), harbour-view verandah, and detailed "gingerbread" trim.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Bay of Fundy's famous ghost ship

Any mention of the Age of Sail and Spencer's Island leads naturally to the true story of Fundy's famous ghost ship: the Mary Celeste. The Mary Celeste was 100 ft brigantine built in Spencer's Island in 1861 as the Amazon. The ship was thought to be cursed due to numerous misadventures, including a maiden voyage collision in London, a 1868 grounding in Cape Breton (after which she was repaired and renamed the Mary Celeste), and her most extraordinary adventure as follows:

In November, 1872, the vessel sailed from New York, bound for Italy, with its captain, captain's wife, their two-year old daughter (this was commonly done then!) and a crew of seven along with a full cargo of alcohol. A few weeks later the Mary Celeste was discovered moving at full sail toward the Strait of Gilbralter but completely abandoned. There was no sign of a struggle, fire or explosion of any sort. The valuable cargo, money box, ship's log, etc. still remained and folklore has it that dinner was cooking and the table was set!

Theories abound about what could have happened. The mystery was never solved but the tale, at the time, was widely popularized by a Sir Arther Conan Doyle (the Sherlock Holmes guy!) short story. Other books have since been written exploring the various theories about our ghost ship.

(above painting by an unknown artist of the Mary Celeste as the Amazon in 1861)

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Sunset at Spencer's Island

Of all the sights I typically photograph around the Bay of Fundy, I rarely take a photo of a sunset. However, when I stepped out of my car at Spencer's Island (on the loop from Parrsboro to Joggins to Advocate Harbour, Nova Scotia) into this textured and tinted scene, well, what could I do?

During the Age of Sail Fundy's little villages and towns were abustle with the design, construction and launching of huge ships that sailed around the world. This was especially true in the upper part of the Bay where the receding tides provided a natural dry dock for both construction and repairs.

It doesn't take much imagination then, for a local, to picture a barkentine or brigantine in this picture. I must say I had John O'Brien on my mind when I took this photo - having just attended a show at Ship's Company Theatre about his life and work as Nova Scotia painter of ship portraits at the height of the Age of Sail. I think this is just the sort of pre-storm sky he may have fancied!

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Peach & plum bruschetta

There's a voluminous amount of yellow plums on our old plum tree again this year. A few years ago I made up this bruschetta recipe as a way of using up too many plums! Both plums and peaches are readily available from Bay of Fundy farm markets at through late August and September.

Peach & Plum Bruschetta
6 ripe field tomatoes, fist-sized
4 to 6 ripe peaches, peeled
6 to 8 ripe plums, leave skin on
1/2 large purple or red onion (or use green onion stems if you don't like onions)
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp or more ground cinnamon
1.5 tsp or more ground nutmeg
2 tsp dried basil
salt to taste (about 1/2 to 1 tsp)
fresh black pepper to taste
grated fresh parmesan cheese
2 loaves French baguette, narrow or wide

Remove and discard seeds from tomatoes. Small dice all fruit & veg. Toss in bowl with seasonings. Adjust salt & pepper to taste. Spread layer of bruschetta mix on bread slices, top with grated parmesan. (
Toast slices baguette first if you don't like your topping to soak the bread). Broil at low heat til heated through. Make more than you think you'll need....they're addictive!