Wednesday, October 31, 2007

A visit to the pumpkin patch!

I ventured out to the country this afternoon to grab a few Halloween pumpkins from one of our pumpkin U-picks.. Belle, my yellow lab, had a good run in the field amongst the big orange balls!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Bay of Fundy tidal power developments

Longtime readers of my blog will know that I've been following possible development of Bay of Fundy tidal power for awhile now. Since I was a kid here on the Bay there has been a drastic move away from attempting to barricade tides and instead, as technology has advanced, much less invasive wave and in-stream tidal power concepts have now been developed and tested elsewhere in the world.

I was pleased to see that Maritime Tidal Energy, one of the companies investigating in-stream tidal power for the Bay of Fundy, just announced a partnership with the U.K.'s leader in tidal power development, Marine Current Turbines.

Marine Current Turbines have been great innovators in environmentally friendly in-stream tidal power projects such as for the Bristol Channel and, recently, for Northern Ireland. Tidal power is still a long way off for the Bay of Fundy (proposals are now requested for the first test turbines) but it appears that a such alliance could help move the concept in the right direction a bit sooner. I'm expecting to go over to the U.K. for a tourism exchange in '08, I wonder how easy it would be to take a peek at tidal power too!

Friday, October 26, 2007

The Reds Are Fabulous This Year!

Although it may be true that this fall's fabulous weather made for excellent Bay of Fundy region red wines, I actually meant the red trees. A couple of early frosts in late September gave way to the perfect combination of warm days (15 to mid-20s C) and cool nights thoughout October. This ensured a spectacular scope of autumn leaf colours around the Bay. For instance, here's a fluorescently red maple that I see every morning on my dog walk. Real...pure...colour...

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Giant Pumpkin Regatta

Here's a fun event to take in if you ever find yourself in the Windsor, Nova Scotia, area of the Bay of Fundy region in October: their annual giant pumpkin regatta. Now in its 23rd year, the Pumpkin Regatta involves sitting inside a gigantic hollowed out pumpkin and paddling it across a downtown lake. These pumpkins average around 800 pounds so can technically hold an adult. They are reasonably buoyant but, as you might expect, quite tippy. It's fun to watch to see who will be the first to get their PVC (personal vegetable craft) across Lake Pesaquid. For more info visit the Windsor-West Hants Pumpkin Festival website - yah, we like our veggies big here around the Bay!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Historic covered bridges

Historic covered bridges still exist here and there around the Bay of Fundy. Originally constructed with covered sides and tops to protect travelers from the weather, most of these bridges have been replaced by modern structures and are now preserved as snapshots of bygone days. The little gem I photographed here is easily accessible from Route 114 by Hopewell Rocks in New Brunswick.

You'll sometimes hear these bridge referred to as "kissing bridges"... a bit of folklore from the days when they were used by horse & buggies. The prospect of enclosing bridges met with great consternation in the early days. Sermons were preached about how covered bridges would contribute to the general moral decay of our young citizens. It's said that young men did, in fact, train their horses to stop about half way across these bridges so a few kisses could be shared with their female companions before continuing along!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Great blue heron project for Bay of Fundy

Still on the conservation theme....Volunteers are hoping to beef up the number of great blue herons nesting on Manawagonish Island, in the Bay of Fundy, by building nesting platforms to entice herons to come and lay their eggs.

About a dozen people made the boat trip this past Monday to the island in the Bay of Fundy, about 1.5 kilometres off the coast from Saint John.

Manawagonish Island used to be home to 44 pairs of nesting great blue herons, but their numbers were dramatically reduced after a number of trees died. Volunteers from the New Brunswick Nature Trust made a boat trip to the island earlier this week. The idea is to create some artificial habitat for these birds.

The artificial habitat will consist of five seven-metre high utility poles, each containing four nesting platforms. Helicopters were used Monday afternoon to transport the poles to the island. While this is a unique project for the Bay of Fundy, it has apparently been carried out successfully elsewhere in North America.

There are still a few pairs of great blue herons breeding on the island, Minich said, and the hope is that that their offspring will return to breed and use the nesting platforms. The group is also planting white spruce trees on the island to replace the trees killed by the thousands of birds that have bred there over the years.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Beaches World Conference being held this week in Canada!

Experts from more than 35 countries are gathering in Toronto this week to showcase new research and innovative solutions to key problems facing coastal areas and beach ecosystems: climate change, health and water quality, and sustainable tourism. Hosted by Environmental Defence and the Foundation for Environmental Education (a European-based organization), the Beaches World Tour 2007 conference brought together scientists, researchers, government officials, grassroots groups and activists who are working to protect shorelines.

Beaches World Tour 2007 marks the 20th Anniversary of the Blue Flag program, an international award for beaches and marinas that meet 27 strict criteria. Blue Flag, run by the Foundation for Environmental Education internationally and by Environmental Defence in Canada, certified more than 2,600 beaches around the world in 2007. In Canada, nine beaches were awarded the Blue Flag: six on Lake Ontario in Toronto; Sauble Beach and Station Beach on Lake Huron; and, Wasaga Beach on Georgian Bay.

Beaches and coastal areas are often the first to feel the effects of environmental problems, like climate change. There's a lot we can learn from other countries who are tackling difficult environmental issues and coming up with new ways to protect their coastlines. Even though we are in a less populated area than many other coastal environments, the Bay of Fundy should look into this!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Blog Action Day - protecting Bay of Fundy Right whales!

Here's a photo of Dr. Moira Brown, of the Canadian Whale Institute, during a very important announcement late last week: large ships will now avoid traveling in an area of the Atlantic coast where endangered North Atlantic Right whales gather seasonally to socialize.

The initiative, just announced by the Federal government, is an effort to save the Right whales from extinction by mapping out an area of Roseway Basin (20 nautical miles south of Cape Sable Island), to be avoided by ships of 300 gross tonnage and upwards.

"In order to reduce collisions between the right whale and large vessels ... the best thing to do is to not have ships and whales in the same location at the same time," Dr. Brown told environmentalists and reporters after the announcement.

From 1970 through January 2007, 75 right-whale deaths were documented along the eastern seaboard of Canada and the United States. (28 from ship strikes, 8 from entanglements in fishing gear).

Roseway Basin, the lower Bay of Fundy and three habitat areas in the United States are the only areas in the western North Atlantic where the right whales are known to gather on a seasonal basis for several months at a time between June and December. Mariners will avoid the area at this time.

In 2002, the International Maritime Organization made changes to ship traffic lanes in the Bay of Fundy, reducing the relative probability of a ship strike in this area by about 80 per cent.

Although the announcement is a recommendation to mariners, there has been positive feedback from the industry, saying they plan to comply. This is great news for Right whales and a wonderful tale to tell on this year's Blog Action Day for the Environment!

Photo from The Daily News, Halifax, Nova Scotia, October 11.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Blog Action Day tomorrow

There is an interesting phenomenon about to occur in the blogsphere....did you ever wonder what would happen if every blog published posts on the same topic, on the same day? One issue. One day. Thousands of voices.

We'll find out tomorrow: Blog Action Day. On October 15 over 14,000 blogs with about 12 million readers will participate. Organizers have selected the environment as the 2007 theme both for the clarity of its importance and the undeniable urgency that issues like global warming and pollution have.

Blog Action Day is not about donations or anything - it exists solely to facilitate bloggers getting together to create a better world. I'll be joining in with environmental news from the Bay of Fundy!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

What is Hot-Smoked Salmon?

Hot-smoking salmon produces a thoroughly-cooked fish, by smoking it from 6 to 12 hours at temperatures ranging from 120° to 180°F. The result is firm, rich, and flakier than cold-smoked salmon. It is eaten just like cooked salmon, but can be used in most of the same preparations as cold-smoked. To the untrained eye, some hot-smoked preparations can look the same in the package. In our Bay of Fundy grocery stores, we see hot-smoked salmon sold packaged and in loose (in the fish dept) in strips, sometimes flavoured with maple, peppercorns or Cajun spices. Yum!

Monday, October 08, 2007

What is Cold-Smoked Salmon?

I thought it might be helpful to give you the scoop on the difference between hot and cold smoked salmon: two totally different processes resulting in different salmon experiences.

Cold-smoked salmon emanates from the Scottish tradition of dry salting salmon fillets and then cold smoking over a slow fire. The cold smoke never cooks the fish. It just touches each fillet gently and slowly, melding the flavors and creating that sensual buttery texture found only in the best cold smoked salmon.

How is salmon cold-smoked?
First the fish are filleted and the sides are covered in a layer of salt for up to six hours to cure. The salt draws out moisture, prevents the growth of bacteria, kills microbes and flavors the fish (btw ham and bacon are also salt-cured). The fish can then be dried for several hours before cold smoking, a slow process at a low temperature: 70° to 90°F for 1 day to 3 weeks; the food is not held over the fire as in hot-smoking; but rather, smoke is passed by food which is held in a separate area from the fire. Since the fish is not cooked, the interior texture of the food generally isn’t affected: The fish remains smooth.

How to know if you are buying cold-smoked salmon?
One sure identifier when buying cold-smoked salmon is that is it usually vacuum-packed in see-through packaging and must be refrigerated. It can be purchased fresh or frozen. When served (see photo borrowed from Wolfhead Salmon Smokers) it appears shiny and slightly raw in appearance. This is also the type of smoked salmon commonly served in this part of the country when you order a bagel with smoked salmon & cream cheese.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Bay of Fundy today in history

It's an anniversary of sorts today around the Bay of Fundy. A tropical storm, known as the Saxby Gale, struck our region 138 years ago today. Now I know you may be thinking 'big deal' but the Saxby Gale tale is still very much alive in local folklore. Fundy folk are known to comment (such as when we had our big Fall equinox tide last week): "yes, well, that was a really big tide but nothing compared to the Saxby Gale!"

From October 4 to 5, 1869, a Category 2 hurricane with winds 105 mph coincided with an unusually high tide to create the perfect storm. The hurricane and an additional 6.5 foot surge of tidal waters caused extensive destruction to port facilities and communities along the Bay of Fundy coast.

The hurricane also produced waves which, combined with the storm surge, breached dykes protecting low-lying farmland in the Minas Basin and the Tantramar Marshes, sending ocean waters surging far inland to inundate farms and communities. Sailing ships in various harbors were tossed about and/or broken up against wharves and breakwaters which were also destroyed. And over 100 people lost their lives. Fortunately such a storm has never again occured on the Bay of Fundy...

Thursday, October 04, 2007

I brake for Smoked Salmon!

Luckily for all of us, Bay of Fundy smoked salmon is available at many grocery stores and specialty food shops in the region. However, my trip to St Andrews, New Brunswick, last week landed me in the neighbourhood of the two best salmon smokers: Wolfhead Smokers and Ovenhead Smokers.

I picked up some freshly smoked salmon to bring home then snapped this quick photo before eating it. I'm a huge fan of both cold and hot smoked salmon - bon appetit!

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Have Chicken; Will Travel!

We welcome lots of interesting visitors... and their traveling companions... to the Bay of Fundy every year. This summer was no exception but this summer there was a first: an Ontario couple traveling with their chicken!

I suppose it's no secret that people are traveling more with their pets. In fact, the Travel Industry Association says 29.1 million Americans travel with their pets. Hotels are targeting pet owners as a niche market and indulgent pet hotels and spas cater to the dearly beloved of the animal world. In February, Continental Airlines even announced the first ever pet-friendly airport lounge opening in Houston, Texas.

In Buk-Buk the Chicken's case, it presented some interesting questions ... Most attractions require pets to be on a leash. How do you put a chicken on a leash? Aggressive pets must wear a muzzle. Is a chicken aggressive? How would you know? How would you muzzle a beak? What about stoop and scoop? Would that apply to a chicken?

As long as she was carried in her owner’s arms, Buk-Buk was permitted to visit but could not enter interior spaces at attractions. That seems fair... though I wish I'd chanced to meet our feathered guest on her trip around the Bay!