Monday, March 31, 2008

Bay of Fundy Mud Drum Workshop

I wish I lived a little closer to the Canada - U.S. border that enters the Bay of Fundy at St Stephen, New Brunswick. There's a fun 8-week workshop starting tomorrow at the Cobscook Community Learning Centre over the border in Trescott, Maine:From Mud to Music - Making & Playing Musical Instruments From Clay. The class will be instructed by Connie Harter-Bagley, master potter and owner of Clay of Fundy Studio. Participants will create clay instruments such as drums, ocarinas and flutes, and will learn to play them. Course includes clay, glazes, firing and one goatskin drum head.

I've been playing the djembe (african drum) for about 2 years and would love to make my own drum from Bay of Fundy mud! Well, perhaps I'll have to get myself down there this summer if they re-offer Mud to Music.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Earth Hour around the Bay of Fundy

There's been much news coverage in recent weeks about Earth Hour. This initiative originated in Australia last year, and, thanks to reach of the web, blossomed into a worldwide event. Starting at 8pm local time tonight, folks in cities, towns & countries all around the world will turn off their lights & otherwise lower their energy consumption for one hour to acknowledge their awareness of climate change and their commitment to energy conservation. I think it's a great initiative; anything that makes us think more about our personal responsibility to reduce energy consumption is a good thing.

Tonight, between 8 & 9 pm, I'll be walking down to my local Bay of Fundy harbour to see the high tide. I often walk to the beach at dusk but tonight (and from now on) I'll make a point to unplug all appliances, turn off all lights, and even switch off my computer before going. I've heard from many friends and colleagues around the Bay that they'll be doing something similar. For example, the Fundy city of Moncton's skyline (see photo) will darken for Earth Day. Perhaps next year I can engage my enthusiastic blog readers in the region to help initiate a more formal Bay-wide Earth Day challenge!

If you'd like to tell the rest of the world that you're participating in Earth Hour, visit the Earth Hour website.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

What's in a Name?

Here's a commonly asked question: where did the Bay of Fundy get its name? It turns out that there are three possible sources (or perhaps it's a combo deal).

1.The name "Fundy" could date back to the 16th century when Portuguese fishermen referred to the bay as "Rio Fundo" or "deep river". Aptly named ... to these early visitors Fundy would have seemed like a massive and mysterious river that flowed in both directions!

2. "Fundy" may have evolved from the name given the bay by early French explorers & cartographers (in 1604): "Baie François" (meaning "French Bay").

3. Or possibly the name is a version of the French word "Fendu", meaning "split". One of the most impressive outcroppings on the bay is still called "Cape Split" (see photo).

Btw, the correct pronounciation of Fundy is "fŭn'", not "fun-day".

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Angling for Striped Bass

One of our other fine little fishes around the Bay of Fundy is striped bass. These are highly prized fish by anglers because of their feisty nature and size. Striped bass grow up to 100 cm long and can live for up to 30 years.

As with any sport or recreational fishing activity, there are strict rules and regulations to follow when angling for striped bass. The daily bag limit is one striped bass, 68 cm (26.8 inches) in length or longer measured from the tip to the nose to the tip of the tail.

Anglers can fish striped bass year round in the tidal waters of the Bay of Fundy. As a general rule, angling for striped bass in the inland waters of Nova Scotia begins April 1 and is permitted as long as a fishing season is open in those waters for trout, salmon, landlocked salmon or smallmouth bass. In the inland waters of New Brunswick draining into the Bay of Fundy, the season is open from April 15 to Oct. 15.

Strict management measures implemented by DFO more than a decade ago have resulted in increased numbers of striped bass, particularly in the Bay of Fundy. If you have any questions regarding seasonal closures or rules and regulations for angling striped bass, contact Department of Fisheries & Oceans.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The Bay of Fundy Living Beach

Due to our persistently snowy weather, it's been a couple months since I visited one of my favourite Bay of Fundy beaches. When I arrived there today I discovered that a fine, sandy beach had replaced last summer's rocky beach!

I was reminded of a favourite book, The Living Beach. I devoured this book when in came out in '98 and haven't looked at beaches the same way since.

When I was a kid here on the Bay of Fundy I remember a sense of anticipation every spring: how would a certain beach look after the winter winds waned and ice cakes evaporated? Would it be a pebble or cobble beach this year? A shale beach? Sandy? Strewn with large boulders and thick layers of wrack? Would a sandbar have shifted or a mud flat been created?

After reading The Living Beach, I realized that beaches are living ecosystems; they shift and adapt constantly to various conditions; they are constantly influenced by wind, erosion, and, in Fundy's case, are significantly impacted by the daily ebb and flow of about 100 billion tonnes of water.

I'm more observant, respectful and accepting of Fundy's annual spring beachscapes now - these simple surprises are one of the secret joys of living here.

(The Living Beach, by Nova Scotian, Silver Donald Cameron is available in video or book format.)

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Visions of summer on the Bay

Winter should soon be wrapping up around the Bay of Fundy. Unlike our snowless winter last year, it's been a particularly stormy one this year - should make for voluminous blossoms in our gardens this summer. Here's a fun set of photos of the Historic Gardens in Annapolis Royal. It's hard to imagine a pergola changing this much from season to season!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

All about the chocolate

Lest you think we are all about smoked salmon, sardines, dulse, blueberries, and wine here around the Bay of Fundy, I'd like to point out that we are also home Canada's oldest Chocolatier: Ganongs (founded in 1873). The Ganong Chocolate Museum in St Stephen, New Brunswick, is currently undergoing a $400,000 expansion to enhance its facilities and chocolate making demonstrations as well as to make more space for groups and bus tours. If you're driving to the Bay of Fundy region from Maine, USA, at the Calais border crossing be sure to plan for this sweet stop in St Stephen. (Photo is Ganong's awesome ginger chocolates)...yummmm!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Inside Swallowtail Lightkeeper's House

Here's a closer exterior pic and a sneak peek at the interior of the Swallowtail Lightkeeper's house - not exactly a real estate agent's panoramic tour but you can certainly see some typical features of lightkeepers' houses of this vintage: hardwood floors & trim throughout and double hung windows. This Bay of Fundy architectural gem appears to be in great shape on the inside.

Friends who successfully operate another Bay of Fundy lighthouse (Cape Enrage) sent these photos. Perhaps the new owners of Swallowtail could use Cape Enrage as a project model: it's a registered charity that employs more than two dozen high school and university students operating it as a seasonal tea room, gift shop and adventure centre. Last year Cape Enrage was honoured by Frommer's Travel Guides as one of seven "Best Views" in Canada.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Dream of Living in a Bay of Fundy Lightkeeper's House?

This is seems to be the winter of Bay of Fundy dream opportunities. I mentioned last month that a Bay of Fundy clam diggers license was for sale on Kijiji and now I've heard that the Swallowtail lightkeeper's house on Grand Manan Island is for sale!

The actual lighthouse, which sits on a spit of land on the north head of Grand Manan Island in the Bay of Fundy, was built in 1858. Following the automation of the lighthouse in 1986, the municipality leased out the adjacent keeper's house for use as a bed and breakfast. Apparently, upkeep on former lightkeeper's home is becoming too financially burdensome for the small island so it's soon to be listed with a real estate agent. A neat opportunity for a lighthouse-lovin' someone to preserve and enjoy this wonderful Fundy landmark.

Hopefully, the lighthouse itself will still remain accessible to visitors - it's one of the most scenic and most photographed spots on the Bay of Fundy! The lightkeeper's house is pictured to the right of the lighthouse.
(If any Fundy readers have a closer photo, I'd love to see it.)

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Vertical tidal effect on a Bay of Fundy pier

Here's a great little time-lapse video of the tides going up and down against a wharf. It's by Fred MacDonald of Great Circle Pictures (who is across the bay from me in the Annapolis Valley region of Fundy). Fred's been documenting Fundy's amazing tidal effects in high definition film for the past year and has some never-seen-before footage. Take a look at some samples on his website - great stuff!

Twice a day this is typical sight at coastal communities all around the Bay of Fundy. Remember, in reality, it takes our massive tides 6 hrs 13 minutes to go from high to low (or vice versa).

Some of my favorite Fundy tidal harbours where you can experience this include:
(in New Brunswick) St Andrews, Blacks Harbour, St Martins, Alma
(in Nova Scotia) Advocate, Parrsboro, Halls Harbour, Harbourville, Margaretsville

Monday, March 03, 2008

Bay of Fundy Gingered Scallops

Last week I espoused the virtues of both Bay of Fundy scallops and our cherished flavour, ginger. No surprise then that I'd be inclined to combine them for a great result. Here's a favourite recipe from The Joy of Ginger cookbook (written by two gals from the region).

Foil-Baked Scallops with Ginger, Mushrooms & Water Chestnuts
1 tsp minced garlic
2 Tbsp butter
1/4 c green onion, sliced thin
1 tsp (or more) grated fresh ginger
1 tsp lemon zest
1 c sliced mushrooms
1/3 c thinly sliced water chestnuts
1 Tbsp lemon juice
salt & fresh pepper to taste
1. tsp toasted sesame oil (plus more for brushing foil)
3/4 lb Digby scallops, halved horizontally
1 Tbsp fresh coriander
Cook garlic over med. heat in skillet for 1 min. Add green onion, ginger & zest. Cook while stirring for 1 minute. Add mushrooms & water chestnuts, cook, stirring for 2-3 min. or until all mushroom liquid has evaporated. Stir in lemon juice, salt & pepper.

Cut 2 pieces fo 12 x 20 inch foil, fold each in half (shiny side in) by bringing the short ends together. Unfold each pieces, brush centre with additional oil. Arrange half the scallops, just to one side of the fold line and top with the veg mixture. Sprinke with 1/2 tsp oil and 1 1/2 tsp coriander. Fold edges together to form sealed packets.

Bake packets in a baking sheet, mid-oven at 450 degrees F for 10 minutes.

Transfer packets to plates, slit them open, disgard the foil. Serve with bread, rice or soba noodles.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Whitetail Deer Are Everywhere!

We've experienced more snow than usual around the Bay of Fundy this winter possibly accounting for the voluminous numbers of whitetail deer emerging out of the forest in search of food. This year deer can frequently be seen in broad daylight along the roadside, on people's lawns, and in farmer's fields. In recent weeks so many deer were crossing coastal Route 2, near Portaupique, that a travel hazard advisory was issued on Nova Scotia radio and TV stations!

Artist & jeweler, Gwen Buchanan, who lives across the Bay from me in St Martins, New Brunswick, captured this great photo of whitetail deer frolicking in her back yard.