Full Moon Rising

Full Moon Rising
Silent Cove. Chance Harbour NB - My back yard.

Thursday, October 10, 2013


The Piping Plover (Charadrius Melodus) -

Photo Courtesy of Wikipedia

Several weeks ago an old childhood friend, Mark, was home to New Brunswick on holidays and had paid us a visit.  We soon found ourselves walking up our beach headed to the 275 year old graveyard that sat hidden in a stand of evergreens at the end of the beach.  As we strolled along the waters edge with our dogs, Bear, my big black lab and Mikey, Marks’ 11 week old German Shepard, I recounted the history of Chance Harbour and the graveyard.  I had to speak at a loud register as Mark is partially hearing impaired. 

We walked along, me chatting, Mark nodding and asking questions when suddenly I heard a near by cheeping of a bird.  My eyes scanned the beach stretched out in front of us when I noticed a Piping Plover running across the sand, then flying and landing while he cheeped away.  Excitedly I said, “Oh look Mark! It’s a Plover!” Mark turned to look at me and said, “What? A blover?” “No”, I said.  Turning to face him I formed my words as best I could to articulate the word. I said, “A Puuuloooverrr.” Mark blinked and shook his head.”  Giggling I slowly spelled it out, “P—L—O—V—E—R”. “Ohhh!” said Mark, finally understanding. He continued, “What’s a Plover??”.  

As I tried to point the bird out he was now in full flight moving away from us.  I explained that the Piping Plovers’ existence is threatened and are a protected species of bird. This poor little bird not standing more than 6 inches high and weighing about 6-8 grams has proven it’s resilience before during the turn of the century when they were all but wiped out by us humans by way of the destruction to coastal areas due to industrial progress. Long ago they were also desired for their feathers by the millinery trade.  Thanks to the Migratory Bird Treaty Act in 1918 the numbers had recovered during the 1940’s. Today they are endangered once again from beaches being used for recreation and development.  Can we not learn from the past? Apparently not.

Photo Courtesy of Wikipedia

The Little Brown Bat-(Myotis lucifugus)

The Little Brown Bat is a mamal that I rather like.  To me they look like cute little mice with gossamer wings.  The little brown bat is found throughout much of North America, as well, right here in my backyard in Chance Harbour NB.  Northern populations of bats enter hibernation in early September and end in mid-May, and in March of this year we could hear the cries of several bats one evening.  They sounded sick, weak and suffering. They sounded sad. They were starving. White Nose Syndrome had awakened them too early from their hibernation.  There would be nothing to feed on as it was still very winter-like. There are no mosquitos, no spiders, no flies, no food in early spring. White Nose Syndromes’ early awakening of the bats seems to be the bats’ more serious undoing.

White Nose Syndrome is responsible for the deaths of  between 5.7 million and 6.7 million bats.  The disease is named for a fungal growth around the muzzles and on the wings of the bats when they are hibernating.  The disease was first indentified in a cave in Schoharie County, New York in February 2006.  Its spread has been rapid.  As of  this year, 2013, White Nose Syndrome has been found in over 115 caves and mines ranging mostly throught the Northeastern U.S. and as far south as Alabama and west to Missouri and into four of the Canadian provinces.
The fungus Pseudogymnoascus destructans can only grow in low temperatures, in the 4 to 15 °C range (39–59°F). The fungus will not tolerate temperatures above 20 °C (68 °F) and appears to be adapted to attacking hibernating bats. Infection causes bats to rouse too frequently from torpor (temporary hibernation) and starve to death through excessive activity. The symptoms associated with WNS include loss of body fat, unusual winter behavior (including flying), damage and scarring of the wing membranes, and death.

Bats are a valuable asset in the agricluture industry because they control a lot of pests that can harm crops and farmers fields. One insect that the bats feed off of  that directly affects us is the mosquitoes. Living with a marsh beside us we expect to have more of them than say those living in landlocked areas.  Last year was a great summer for the mosquitoes and this year even better … for them. Not for us.  Sitting out on warm nights is out of the question.  Even putting up a smudge of smoke doesn’t seem to bother them much.  I have never in my life seen my window screens peppered with so many mosquitoes. Forest Service estimates that the die-off from white-nose syndrome means that at least 2.4 million pounds of bugs (1.1 million kg) will go uneaten and become a financial burden to farmers.

We spend a lot of time out on our deck which over-looks the cove and the marshland, so we’ve become accoustomed to hearing the squeak of the bats and seeing them swoop through the air just after sunset. From our personal observations there are no bats in Chance Harbour this summer.  We’ve not heard nor seen a single one.

No obvious treatment or means of preventing transmission is known. The mortality rate of some species has been observed at 95%.

A Honey Bee from my back yard.
The Honey Bee (Apis mellifera) - 

Honey Bees pollinate 1 out of every 3 bites of food that we eat.  That’s pretty profound.  It doesn’t take much of a stretch of the imagination to see how if the Honey Bee became extinct how that would affect us humans. It paints a very dismal picture indeed.  Currently there are still billions of Honey Bees left on the planet so you wouldn’t find the Honey Bee on any endangered lists … yet.  They are classified as being under threat from CCD (Colony Collapse Disorder).  There isn’t any hard, definite answer as to why this is happening.  Some reports or better yet, theories, being blamed for CCD are quite questionable to say the least such as an Al-Quida plot to destroy American farming.  Another is cell phone radiation and more fanciful is the Honey Bee Rapture when Bees become captivated by celestial bodies.  Seriously??? The last one gives me a visual of a long trail of a million Honey Bees silhouetted against the Moon on their way to Mars.
More believable reasons would be things like pesticides that throws off their navigation skills thus making it difficult for them to find their way back to their home hives. Pesticides used in farming could be having an affect.  Or maybe fungal infections that contaminate their environment.  Even weather extremes are being looked at like Climate Change and what roll if any that might have on the Honey Bee.  

The following link is the latest data that I could find on the health of the Honey Bee.


Last evening we had a Blue Moon. The Moons’ appearance was timed perfectly with the twilight of night rising up out of the East and riding on the edge of the blue hour.  It was a warm and slightly humid evening. There was a slight breeze so we thought we’d try sitting out to watch the Moonrise.  We watched as the Moon climbed higher and higher in the sky and the tide responded in kind by slowly and silently sliding in across the flats. The higher the Moon climbed, like a magnet,  it drew the tide in, slowly filling the cove.  A perfect silver Moon lit up the landscape and shone a silver beam of light against the tide illuninating the gentle breaking of  a soft surf.  With every gentle push of the tide it gave the appearance of long lacey white fingers spreading out before it, reaching for the beach.    Even the cricketts were singing in full chorous providing background music to a most beautiful summer evening.   We managed to sit outside for about an hour when the breeze died off and we were assailed  by the mosquitoes.

As I sat watching the tide flow closer I looked up at the Moon and somehow it seemed as if it was looking back at me.  It made me wonder about us as a species and why it is that it’s almost a given that when we try to  grow and move forward that in that process that we destroy something in nature.  What does that say about us? A lot I think, and not in a good way.  I think too many people on this planet don’t give a hoot about nature and the fact that it is the heartbeat of life in a manner of speaking.  Give a hoot or not it will and does directly affects us.  Dare I think of what would happen if we messed with the Moon or the tides of the Atlantic Ocean and for us,  The Bay of Fundy.  I pray that man never finds a way to do that.  I hope that man learns from mistakes despite our arrogance and yes, ignorance.  I believe also that some forms of life are meant to die out, that some things run their full course. 

With the Honey Bee, the Little Brown Bat and the Plover, these things are necessary  to sustain life for us.  Take them away and we will starve to death, much like the Little Brown Bat.
To you dear reader maybe some concious changes or choices can make the world of difference.  Be mindful of Plovers’ nests while walking the beaches.  The coastline and beaches are their habitat, not ours.  For our flying mamals, maybe install a few bat houses on your property or encourage someone else to do it, and stay away from caves and underground mines. If you enter an infected cave you are carrying the WNS out of the cave on your person essentially spreading the disease.  For the Honey Bee, maybe familiarize yourself with the identity of the bee so that when you see one flitting from flower to flower you will know enough to just walk away and let him do what he needs to do.

How I miss our Little Brown Bats …

You can always find me at the next high tide …


Sunday, July 7, 2013

Alone In The Boreal Forest


Alone time. Me time. Whatever one wants to call it, I like it. Now, I know that a lot of folks out there that have some kind of fear of being alone.  I know of some people that cannot stand to be left on their own, not ever, not under any circumstances. For me, I really enjoy a little solitude now and again. Not meaning to sound egotistical but, I enjoy my own company. So during a 12 day stay at our camp in central New Brunswick, Eric, my husband, had to return home to Chance Harbour NB to do a 3 day shift at his place of work.  I got the idea of staying behind with our pets, Bear our dog and Stewie our cat, whom I always fondly call my boys. Eric wasn’t crazy about the idea at all. My reasoning was that I didn’t think it was good for the pets to have to go on two trips in a three day period. So, on that Tuesday morning at 3:30 am, I stood on the doorstep of the porch with Stewie in my arms and Bear sitting by my side as Eric placed the last of his things into the trunk of the car. Both animals were watching Eric very closely, their eyes following his every move. Bear’s ears were pulled back and his eyes wore an anxious expression. He knew Eric was leaving and we were not and he didn’t like it. After good-byes were said, Bear, Stewie and I stood and watched the red taillights of the car disappear into the night and the sound of its motor fade away until there was only silence and darkness. We were alone in the boreal forest. We turned and went back inside the camp turning the lock behind me. I tossed a couple pieces of hardwood into the old wood burning cook stove, then turned down the kerosene lamps. Calling the pets with me I entered the small bedroom at the back of the camp and crawled onto the hay filled mattress and snuggled down under the old quilts.

Sleep proved to be elusive and I lay in the darkness listening to the silence that surrounded me. The only sound that I was aware of was the sound of my own breathing and the crackle of the fire in the stove. Other than making my own noise, there wouldn’t be any. No sounds of people or traffic. Our camp is 11 miles into the woods with scattered camps along the way with ours being one of the last on the Kilmarnock Road. One might find a few more scattered camps deeper in the woods but for the most part there wasn’t anything but forest. Depending which way you faced there was anywhere from 60-100 miles of nothing but trees and streams.   Almost every single camp was still closed for winter and we were truly alone in the forest.  I lay there until the blue hour, the predawn of daybreak, not quite night, yet not quite daylight. It was 5:30am when I rose from my warm nest and padded out to the kitchen area and put some water on to boil for coffee. Peering through the windows, the oversized thermometer that hung on the outside wall of the woodshed was reading +3C. Emerging from the camp I retrieved a basin of rainwater from the rain barrel that sits on the side of the camp. Bathed, dressed and coffee in hand I stepped out onto the porch as Stewie and Bear took care of business.

 The outside light had slowly changed from a soft warm blue to a soft cream yellow. A light frost had covered the ground, grass, trees and shrubs. The warmth of the rising sun was heating the ground and soft plumes of mist were beginning to rise up from the earth. The sun was shinning through the frost on the trees and bushes, causing them to shimmer like yellow diamonds floating among the clouds. It was like stepping into a golden-hued world. Quickly turning on my heel, I ran back inside the camp and grabbed my camera. Slamming the door behind me I called for Bear.  We were headed to the dead water. I’d never been on the dead water at sunrise and the sun would be there rising in the east. We trotted to the end of the drive, crossed the dirt road and rounded the bend and there it was, widening with every footstep, a soft golden ball hung large in the sky - an imposing presence over the large dead water. It was my first time seeing fog in Kilmarnock.  It was like looking through a soft white veil. There was no wind, not even a breeze, not any sound at all except for the beating of my own heart and the ringing in my ears caused by the profound silence. My eyes scanned the horizon at the far off forest that encircled the dead water. Like a great, shadowed sentinel it stretched for hundreds of miles. Its impressive presence seemed silent and knowing of every hidden den, gully and burrow and all of the animal life that resided within her. And a lot of life there was, for this was a forest that was home to the Black Bear, Moose, Deer, and traveling packs of Coyotes. While standing there I realized that in that moment that I was the only human life form within her bounds for many, many miles. It made me feel special just to be there within this vast ecosystem that teemed with life. 

My eyes took in the great body of water that filled the dead water. In that moment the stillness of the water mirrored upon it the perfect reflection of the sun. The tall marsh grasses reflected deeply within its pools of water and long channels twisted and turned and wove their way through the dead water that seemed endless.  As I stood there lost in this golden world my heart began to beat faster and I raised my camera and said a silent wish to do justice of capturing the beauty that lay before me.  Suddenly, from somewhere farther up the dead water, several ducks started to kick up a racket. Bear’s head immediately turned to the direction of the ducks. He climbed out onto the old grey, weathered, cedar wharf that Eric and a friend had built many years before. Bear stood there looking up the channel, his proud beautiful frame silhouetted against the rising sun.

It turned out to be one of the best pictures I’ve ever captured. After a time I sat down on the grassy bank of the dead water to enjoy just being there in the moment and sipped my coffee.  Suddenly a loud splash arose from the water followed by some high pitched chittering sounds.  Bear immediately sprang into action by running into the water. I stood up and commanded him to stop, which he did. Bear would have made the ultimate hunting dog but we never trained him in that respect. He is a great swimmer with his webbed feet, a great sniffer with his long nose and he isn’t the least bit gun shy. His linage is a black Labrador Retriever for a mother and a long haired Golden Retriever for a father. It is in his blood to hunt and retrieve.  What he so badly wanted to chase turned out to be a family of about 5 otters.  I called Bear to my side and made him sit. We both watched with amazement as the long, wet, sleek bodies of the otters cut through the water with lightening speed as they chased each other.  We watched as they raced up the channel until they disappeared beneath the bog. Right at that moment, a very large pickerel softly broke the surface of the water and began to slowly roll over and over again. With every roll flashes of yellow sunlight gleamed against its’ dark green body. I think that Bear was as mesmerized and entranced  by the beauty and fluidity of the large fish as I was until the moment became broken by two fighting red winged black birds swooping and diving mid air over the dead water. It was in this moment that it occurred to me how ironic it was to call this place dead water when it was anything but dead. There was not only life here; there was a life force that thrived here.  Mother Nature had made it so every living species depended on each other to make the perfect balance to create life in what man had deemed dead water.  As we stood there watching the red winged black birds two Gray Jays  landed in a nearby tree making me realize that the ringing in my ears had disappeared and the silence had given way to the awakening of the world around me.  In that moment I also realized something else … that sitting on the frost and dew covered bank had soaked my bottom. Laughing at myself and suddenly feeling chilled we headed slowly back to the camp.   

Passing time whilst alone in the forest with no other humans for miles around is well, a timeless thing. One doesn’t pay much attention to manmade time but runs more on nature’s clock. Other than needing sustenance every four hours, passing the day on whims was very liberating. The only real responsibilities I had were being mindful of Bear and Stewie, topping off the kerosene lamps and refilling the firewood box that sat beside the stove. The Tapley camp is a no frills camp with no running water, no electricity, and no modern appliances other than the old wood burning cook stove. There is no phone service and no cell service either unless one wants to walk up to the bridge or down to the dead water and stand in just the right spot beside a metal pole once used for tether ball. If luck is on your side and the planets and stars have all lined up, maybe then you’d get a signal. No car, no phone, no television, no internet and no street lights I could handle. What I didn’t like was the, no bathroom part of it all. I never liked having to walk away from the camp to use the outhouse that sits tucked into the woods behind the camp. In my opinion there is nothing nice or comfortable about parking ones’ bare derriere over a gaping hole and nothing but 10 feet of black space beneath it. It’s creepy.
 My one big indulgence every afternoon was to wash my hair in rain water collected from the rain barrel. I’d then make myself a proper cup of tea, grab my current Stephen King book, park myself in my lawn chair and let the warmth of the sun dry my hair. It was far better than any beauty salon could ever offer.

Bedtime comes early in May when at the camp. It is dark by 9:30pm and I would spend my evenings listening to an American radio show on our old battery operated ghetto blaster or reading by lamplight. My first night alone I went through the pre-bed ritual of drawing the curtains, double locking the door, turning down the lamps and tossing more wood in the stove. I remember opening the bedroom window a few inches to allow some fresh air into the room, but that wasn’t the only reason. I wanted to fall asleep listening to the chorus of peepers. I slept like a baby.

With night one down and two days and another night to go everything was going well. The days were sunny and warm except for one rain shower which occurred on the second afternoon.  I enjoyed the rain by lying down to read my book and listened to the rain as it pitter pattered against the windows and on the red steel roof of the camp. Between the sound of the rain and reading my book it was not long and I was fast asleep.

The last night on my own I decided to treat myself to a small campfire. After cooking up a feast of hotdogs for myself and the boys, I placed an old metal grill over the fire and made myself a pot of tea.  The best tea is made in this fashion – over an open fire. And if a twig or leaf falls in, the flavour becomes enhanced.  Once the tea had steeped I removed the grill and added some cedar logs to the fire and built it up for a true campfire. Within minutes I was settled into my Adirondack chair, a quilt spread over my legs and my warm cup of tea cupped between my hands. Bear was curled by my feet and even Stewie seemed content to just perch himself on the rail of the porch, his front paws tucked neatly under himself and sporting his pretty new bell that hung from his neck.  My brother-in-law called it, “A dinner bell for coyotes.” 

 The sun had begun to set in the western sky and was soon followed by twilight.  The fire became brighter as the day slowly slipped away and off in the distance a choir of peepers sang up their song greeting the night. Tilting my head back my eyes scanned the black velvet sky and took in the glorious sight of what seemed a zillion diamonds of sparkling light that had traveled a zillion years from the past to greet my eyes at that precise moment, in that exact time.  It was … overwhelming beauty.  Before long the night dew began to settle upon us and I began the ritual of shutting down for the night.

With the lanterns turned down, the shades drawn and the door tightly locked I crawled onto the hay stuffed mattress and slid beneath the quilts. I lay in the dark and listened as the sounds of the night forest floated in through the bedroom window. Contentment flowed through me.  I smiled to myself, closed my eyes and waited for sleep.

Sometimes when somewhere between sleeping and wakefulness it can be hard to tell if one is dreaming or awake. So when I first heard the strange sounds I felt no reaction and assumed I must be dreaming.  The sounds seemed to be getting closer as they were becoming louder and I could feel myself floating up, closer and closer to the surface of wakefulness. Suddenly … I was awake … wide awake.  My eyes flew open; my mouth went dry and tasted metallic. It felt as if my heart slammed to a stop. I bolted upright; my breathing came fast and shallow.  I sat there in the middle of the bed frozen, and an icy chill slithered down my spine.  This was real terror and it had me in its grip.  I glanced quickly at Bear and Stewie and both were snoring away oblivious to the sounds. A flicker of relief washed over me because I didn’t want Bear to wake up barking and attract the attention of our presence to whatever it was that was out there.  The sounds were getting closer with every passing second.  I cannot do justice to try and describe those sounds that I heard.  I’d never heard anything like it in my life. It was beyond screaming, or squealing. Nor was it a howling or a yelping.  They sounded unearthly and not of this world.  There was more than one of whatever they were - they were many and they were moving fast and they were headed toward us, not away.  Suddenly the sounds surrounded us. They were in the air above us; behind us … they engulfed us.  They seemed to be everywhere all at once and I could feel something coming from them … euphoria, excitement, glee.  I dared not move, I think I stopped breathing. I dare not go near the windows. They were out there and I didn’t want them to know we were in here.  A deep dark feeling of unfathomable regret washed over me.  Why had I insisted on staying behind? Why had I insisted that I’d be fine on my own?  And why oh why of all times did Eric give into my whims?  I wanted to go back in time and do it all over again. I wanted to take it all back. I wanted to be home with Eric. I wanted to be anywhere but here, alone in the boreal forest.  As suddenly as the noises had appeared they began to move away.  Slowly, so painfully slowly, the sounds became lighter and I could feel them fading away.  Relief washed over me, but I still did not feel convinced that we were ‘out of the woods’ yet. Very tentatively I let go of the handfuls of quilts that I had clenched in my hands.  My fingers had cramped, the knuckles white.  I shoved the quilts aside and swung my legs over the side of the bed. 
I sat there holding my breath and listened hard to the night.  All there was to be heard was the soft snap and crackle of the fire burning away in the wood stove and the sweet familiar sounds of the boys both snoring lightly.  I slowly slid off the bed, my bare feet lightly touching down on the cold linoleum floor.  I walked and stood in the middle of the camp, my hair damp against my neck, my night gown pasted against my skin.  There would be no sleep for me this night and tomorrow seemed eons away.

It wasn’t until 9:30pm the next night that I could hear a far off sound.  Bear was lying in the middle of the floor licking his paws when he stopped, raised his head and looked at me.  His eyes met mine and suddenly his ears were standing, he turned and faced the door.  Stewie who had been asleep on the couch suddenly woke and became alert, his eyes darting from the window above him to the door.  Suddenly he jumped down, flattened his body against the floor and pulled himself under the couch.  I strained my ears and glanced toward the windows and looked out into the night.  The sounds were of a vehicle and it was getting closer. It was the first one I’d heard in 3 days.  I stood and walked to the window and I could see headlights bouncing between the trees.  The car was turning onto our road, it was slowing down and it was turning into our driveway.  I let out a long sigh of relief.  It was Eric. 

I don’t recall ever being so happy to see Eric.  Stewie came out of hiding and as soon as I opened the door Bear bolted out.  I don’t think Eric had ever received such a happy homecoming before.  Eric stepped out from the car, “What a long drive and a very long 3 days.  I missed you guys so much, you’ve no idea how hard it was or what I went through!  If this ever happens again I am not leaving you behind!”  I smiled at him and said, “I agree, next time … we all go home together.”

You can always find me at the next high tide.

Natalie ... 




Sunday, June 16, 2013




Our Dad was a man of quiet strength,
As the best of God’s men at the top he would rank.
Whatever the problem he would always say,
“Don’t worry, for tomorrow’s another day.

So one cloudy August day, with Mom in the hospital
and a new baby on the way, Dad piled us into the truck
just to pass the day.

So to the park we headed and into the woods we found,
blueberry bushes all around.
 “Fill your buckets!” he urged, “it’ll be lots of fun!”
There was one thing missing, we wanted the sun.

As we filled up our buckets and our mouths even more,
the rain sprinkled down, and then started to pour!
We girls grabbed our buckets and headed straight for the truck.
There inside from the rain we wanted to duck.
Then a cry rang out, “Stop where you are! This is going to be fun!
We won’t stop picking because there’s no sun!"

So with buckets in hand we went back to our task
while the warm August rain fell on our backs.

What a sight we must have made to those passing by
just a Dad and his girls wanting blueberry pie.
For it’s memories like this forever will stay.
"You were right Dad, we won’t worry
For tomorrow is another day."

Written by:
Natalie Tapley, 1998

   My earliest memory of my Dad was when I was 3 years of age.  It was early morning and I sat at his head on his pillow dragging a finely tooth comb through his hair. Within minutes I was not able to see where the comb began and the hair ended.  It had become a tangled mess to say the least.  He took it all in good stride as his sparkling blue eyes silently pleaded with my Mother to please make me stop.  

I didn't meet my Dad until I was 3 years of age. After a break-up with my birth father my Mother and I had traveled from western canada to the maritimes to stay with my grandmother until my Mother could get her life back on track. It was through friends of my Grandmother that my Mother met my Dad. They had dated a few times when one day Dad was driving up Union St. and seen my Mother walking and crying and carrying me in her arms as I was ill with a high temperature. Mother had a fall out with Grandmother that ended with Mother finding herself on the street with nowhere to go. He piled us into his car and took us home, where he lived with his parents and brother. They were never apart again until the day he died. 

They set up house together and a year later my sister Cindy was born, Dad's first child.  Two more sisters were to follow. So Mother and I went from just the two of us to me having a wonderful step-dad and 3 beautiful half sisters. We never thought of each other as step or half of anything. We were sisters and Dad was my Dad.  Until Mother would remind me that I was not really a part of that family.  That was the ONLY time it ever came up. If you missed "For The Love Of A Mother" written on Mother's Day, then any negative references to my Mother can be explained in that story. But, this writing isn't about my Mother, it's about my Dad.

A man of quiet strength is the best way to describe him.  Shy and wary until he got to know you a bit. He was focused and determined, hardworking and loyal.  To me he was the best thing that ever happened in my life. 

When as a child if I fell and scraped a knee he'd always laugh.  Not in a cruel way but it was his way of telling me to be tough and strong and also to try and make me stop crying. It would always end with me half crying and half laughing with a runny nose pleading for him to stop.

When a boyfriend broke my heart he'd see me crying and offer to punch them in the nose. Again, I'd end up in half tears and half laughing at the vision of him pounding the pavement looking for a boy to knock out.

Another time he did go after a young man for shooting me with a dart rifle. It was all in fun and I wasn't an actual target of violence.  The boy was a friend who was with another friend and seen a bunch of us girls hanging out on a neighbourhood street corner - they decided to show off. It was a cool, fall evening and I was wearing a red woolen jacket. I was 14 years old and fully developed and I was always being teased by the boys. Well, my friend with the dart gun decided he wanted to see if he could 'hit one' from about 100 yards. I didn't take him seriously and stood there telling him he couldn't hit the broad side of a barn from 2 feet away. Well, he missed, sort of. The dart hit the inside of my left arm which I didn't even realize until later, when at home removing my coat my Dad noticed something on my arm.  The wound was a huge round bruise with a good sized hole in the middle of it.  Before I knew what was happening he was out the door dragging me behind him up the street to confront the boys and their parents.  The boy who actually did the damage got off scott free as his father always protected him, even from things like this.  His accomplice didn't fare as well and was given a ban from hanging with the other boy ever again and given a two week grounding.

This was my Dad.  Shy, quiet and  only at ease when with his family. Yet he would step out of his comfort zone if someone was hurting his family, his daughter, his child. Me.  And how I loved him for it. There was only one person he was helpless to defend me from and that was my Mother. Like the rest of us, he was terrified of her.

I hadn't seen my Dad or family the last 7 years of his life, until the last couple of months before he died.  I'd not talked to them because of the damage My Mother kept trying to do to my life. For the sake of my 3 sons I had to pull away again, and I was angry about it.  I wrote my Dad a letter chastising him for letting "her get away with it." It wasn't a very nice letter and I'd never spoken to him like that in my life. My Mother took that letter and ran with it and after so many years had finally turned Dad completely against me. I was written out of the will, the whole nine yards was laid down, I was completely stripped from the family.  My Mother had won her life long battle of turning Dad against me.  Or so she thought. 

I spent some time with my Dad in the hospital and his home before he died.  When visiting him one day in the hospital he asked if I would wheel him out for a coffee and a cigarette.  It was a warm, sunny August day. I wheeled him far away from the entry doors so we could be alone. We had a talk.  I told him I was sorry for the letter. He said he knew that. He told me that he was sorry too, for not shielding me from my Mother.  I told him I knew that. I told him I loved him and thanked him for all the years he took care of me when he never had to.  He said he should of never married her but that he felt bad about me, this little girl that needed some stability.  He felt guilt too, because he'd never step in between Mother and I. She wouldn't allow it. He said he should have done more.  He also told me I was the black sheep of the family, " In a good way." he said. Then, " As you got older you always went against the grain I am proud of you because of it.  You've got guts and go by the beat of your own drum. Don't change that Nat." He told me he loved me.  I seen him a few more times after that with the last time being in his home.  It became impossible to visit because of Mother.  She made it miserable for him if we spent time talking.  To make it easier on him I let some space between visits. They only lived a few blocks from me and I could be there in minutes if need be.  The night before he died my Mother had the priest come into the home and then called the rest of the family to say their goodbyes. Relatives were looking for me asking where I was.  Mother refused to answer.  She hadn't called me.  The next morning my phone rang.  It was my Mother, all she said was, "Daddies gone." 

There was no funeral.  Only a grave side prayer and his shoebox of ashes dropped into a small hole.  This was told to me as I never attended.  I was reminded by Mother that I wasn't a part of the family. So, while the family grieved as a whole, I grieved alone as I had my sister Cindy's death a few years prior.  It was one of the loneliest times of my life.  

Dad was a saint to have lived under the rule of my Mother.  I can't imagine what it took to not pack it in and just leave.  I suspect he stayed for his girls. We were not just his family, we were his life.  Had he not been in mine, had other things occured to change the course of my life ... I wouldn't be who I am today.  Dare I say that I'd of been more like my Mother.  What a frightening thing that would of been ... to the world. 

So today is Father's Day.  I have wept through this writing but not because of anything bad but, because of how much I miss him. How I hunger to breathe him in just one more time, how I ache to hug him tight and whisper "I love you Dad." far removed from Mother's ears. 

Today is very much like that fall day when Dad and I had our chat sitting in the sun.  The sky was blue, very much like today.  The sun was brilliant and warm on our shoulders. We sipped coffee and smoked.  We were relaxed in that moment and were free of any fear.  I felt at moments there was something he wasn't saying but, when he told me how proud he was of me and that he loved me as his own, then, what he gave me far outweighed what he was holding back. 

As I look out the window on this sunny Father's Day the cove lays empty, the tide is out and low.  A bumble bee crosses my window interupping my view.  I watch him buzz across the glass looking for the way outside.  His purpose is to be out there, not in here. We all have a purpose in life.  The bee's purpose is to find pollen to bring home to the hive, to his family.  Much like a Dad providing for his family.   Dear reader, if you are a Dad and not just a father, never forget it's more than just feeding your family or putting a roof over their heads. It's also about the impression you make on your children.  And believe me regardless of who the stronger personality is that your offspring will walk away with whatever you instilled in them, one way or the other.   Any man can be a Father but it takes someone that's real, genuine, devoted and loyal to be a Dad.  I'm relieved to say that I am most like my Dad. 
It will be 15 years this September since he passed.  Funny thing is I can still see his face.  I can still see that brilliant smile and his laughing blue eyes. I can still see how he always held one arm across his chest when he laughed.  I remember everything about him. But most of all it's the love he gave to me when he never had to. He could never be my father, he was better than that. He was my Dad.

You can always find me at the next high tide.

Natalie ...

Saturday, June 8, 2013


One could describe the atmosphere in Chance Harbour as peaceful, beautiful, rugged and almost a state of mind.  About the only things that have changed over the last 200+ years are the people who are arriving, leaving or resting.  The history here holds all the stuff that movies are made of.  Stories of buried treasures from sunken pay ships, drama, mystery, love and heartbreak.  The movie may not yet be made but I’ve already given it my two thumbs up.
Bay of Fundy is one of the most powerful elements on the planet.  The highest tides in the world occur here.  In my time living here I’ve seen first hand how unpredictable those tides can be.  She can slide in almost unseen and unheard, like a thief in the night.  Other times you can hear her from miles away long before you see her.  Sometimes, the rush, the roar of an incoming tide is so powerful, so forthcoming, that you can feel it.  When the surf hits the top of the beach you physically feel the concussion.  It’s at this time that one gives their full attention to her and the respect she demands.  She will feed the hungry that seek her out.  She will also take away without judgment, or prejudice.  The latter is the chance that her fishermen take every time they set sail for a day on the water.  Before setting sail, the weather charts are checked as well as tide levels, wind direction and the sailing vessels that will carry them far out into the Bay of Fundy and beyond, into the Atlantic Ocean.  For those early settlers that fell in love with the rugged landscape, living here was no easy feat, with conditions being harsh at best.  The tides dictated their daily comings and goings. The Bay of Fundy ruled all mighty and all powerful in the smallness of their lives.

There is a lot of history on the property where I live, in one of four cottages, located on a cove with a beautiful view of the Bay of Fundy.  At the outer edge of the cove is a small uninhabited island known as Crowe Island.  Beyond the cove is Little Dipper Harbour, part of the great Bay of Fundy.  The coasts of the Bay of Fundy are treacherous waters.  There are a lot of underwater shoals and ledges and before the days of buoy markers many ships met their fate along this coastline.  A great number of them went down just off of our Crowe Island.  Some believe that there is buried treasure here yet to be found.  The best part of this property, outside of the view, is the ¾ mile long beach that we residents share.  Something else we all share on that beach is a graveyard, a 218 year old cemetery that holds the remains of an Unknown Soldier.  He was the first person to be buried in Chance Harbour. Sometime during the year of 1795 the body of the Unknown Soldier washed up on this very beach.  He was partially decomposed and wore the uniform of a British Officer.  Written accounts about this are conflicting in the time frame but the main belief is that Chance Harbour’s first settler, Daniel Belding, had discovered the body and laid him to rest in the area now called Belding’s Cemetery or Graveyard Point.  It was through natural progression that the graveyard would hold the souls of others that were to follow.  In 1967 The Chance Harbour Women’s Institute had a cairn built inside the cemetery as a centennial project.  Unknown Soldier is first on the list of names inscribed. There are a total of 24 souls buried there with 6 being infants from the same family.  And yes, Daniel is one of those buried there.

Upon first hearing the story of the Unknown Soldier I was captivated.  I had to go see him for myself.  When entering the graveyard we find it is in devastating condition due in part to neglect and the forces of nature.  Debris and boulders are strewn everywhere, an indication of very high powerful surfs.  It’s amazing that the bay hasn’t washed it away over the 218 years it’s been there.  Somehow it has survived.  The Unknown Soldier, this British Officer, I wonder from time to time just who he was, somebody’s son, brother, husband or father.  Was his death recorded from whatever ship he came from?  If he had family, were they made aware of his death? Or did someone live in hopes of his returning home to them?   Maybe some day the answers will reveal themselves.  For now, the Unknown Soldier remains an unsolved mystery.

Speaking of mysteries, I had an experience one day on the beach.  It was a cool sunny afternoon when Eric and I decided to take our dog Bear for a walk on the beach.  I walked along the sand with camera in hand and Eric followed behind me, head down, looking for unusual beach rocks. Bear, with his long nose to the ground and plumy tail wagging was happily sniffing for signs of our neighbor’s dogs.  I had stopped to take a picture of Crowe Island that sits at the opening of our cove.  I was holding the camera up and looking through the LCD screen to frame up my shot.  From behind me, I heard Eric approaching, his steps swishing across the sand.  He stopped a few mere inches directly behind me.  I could feel him looking over my shoulder and expected to feel his breath against the back of my neck.  He felt so close I thought he was about to fall against me and throw me off balance.  Feeling slightly annoyed, I took a step forward and turned around to ask him for a bit of space … and there was nothing … nothing but air there.  A deep, long, cold chill slithered down my spine and suddenly, I’d never felt so cold in my life.  I broke out in goose bumps, every hair on end.  Panic was rising up because I could feel someone right there in front of me.  I looked down the beach to my left, my eyes searching for Eric and Bear and a long stretch of empty beach stared back at me.  I then looked to my right and they were far up the beach away from me. They were standing just outside the graveyard.  The air around me felt oppressive and I was almost gasping as I yelled for Eric.  It was one of the strangest encounters I’ve ever had.  I’m still not sure what took place that day.  All I know is that I was in a complete innocent state of mind and just wanting pictures and a nice walk on the beach.  The graveyard, nor the soldier or anything like that was on my mind, yet I felt something happen as sure as I’m sitting here.  Could it of been the Unknown Soldier or maybe Daniel himself?  Or maybe I had an uncontrollable imagination?  I should think not.

The memory of that day still haunts me from time to time, with the most recent time while writing this piece.  From where I sit writing this, I can see the stand of thick evergreens that encompasses the little graveyard.   The spot where I write at is our old trestle table that sits next to a wall of windows.  These windows overlook the beach and the cove.  During my daylight writing hours the view inspires me, brings me peace, takes my breath away and keeps me in the now.  At night there is no view.  There is nothing to see beyond the windows but darkness.  One can still hear the tides as they rise and fall.  One can still hear the surf as it pounds the beach and in its own way brings its own beauty.  When writing this article, during the nighttime hours, I won’t deny that my attention was periodically drawn to look through these windows … out into the darkness … in the direction of the graveyard.  I think I’d have to say it felt
a bit unsettling. 


As I sit here in this moment, the tide is out, the seabed lays naked and exposed.  It is the beginning of twilight and soon the blue hour will follow, then, darkness will silently slide in and swallow the world whole. There is no wind. All is still, as if Mother Nature is holding her breath, waiting for darkness to fall and for the mighty Bay of Fundy to slowly and steadily fill the bowl shaped coast as her waters rise higher and higher.  The night may darken her, but there will never be any stopping her.  Her flow is constant, like the wind and the sun. Always there, always here, to flood our souls with love for this land … this beautiful back country of Canada.

You can always find me … at the next high tide.

Natalie ...

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Time and Tide: SHADOWS

Time and Tide: SHADOWS: * READERS DISCRETION ADVISED—TOPIC: Aging   Sorry about the mistakes in the first few lines.                                                             CONTENT: All kinds of yucky st...

Thursday, April 18, 2013

THE ANGLER. A tale of the one that got away.

There once was an angler,
as he set out to sea.
he said to himself,
"There's none better than me!",
"I can catch any fish to my taste and desire,
toss it into a  pot, cook it up on a fire!"

"Through fools pride he is blinded!" One little fish thought,
as she flowed through the water, slowly rising to the top.
As she huddled in the shadows so as not to be seen,
"Let him cast out his bait for he'll never catch me!"

So he cast out his line, hook, sinker and all.
From behind the dark shadows she watched it fall.
Now the angler he cheated just a little, you see,
by checking his fish finder saying,
"It never fails me!"

With the little fish hidden among the dark shadows,
she watched as the line drop farther and farther.
"It's too much line!" the fish sadly thought.
"He's sure to be sorry for the fish that he's caught!"

For the little fish knew all the secrets of the deep
and she knew from the angler these secrets she'd keep.

Then the little fish thought,"There's no end to the line,
oh the line he's released!"
Then, the line stopped quick ... and the fish finder beeped!!!

Twas the loudest of beeps the angler did hear!
Something grabbed at his heart. The grasp was fear!!!
His heart how it pounded, keeping time with the beeper.
 Holding tight to the rod he pulled up on the lever.

The sweat broke from his brow,
his feet straddled the boat.
Then he yanked the wrong way and his brace became broke!
Rod, reel and man now bobbing afloat.

As the little fish searched, looking for the man,
sadly she found him with rod still in hand.

With a tremor in her fins and a quiver in her tail, sadly she thought,
"Tis through greed that he fails.",
"To have all is not enough, he forever falls for life's little bluffs!"

So with a turn of her head and a flip of her tail,
she cut up through the water to continue her sail,
 of riding the waves and racing the tides.
She turned one last time to say goodbye. 

 Well it's that time of year again when a lot of folks will be rummaging deep into the hall closets, garages and basements in search of their fishing gear. The opening of fishing season for lakes, brooks and streams is, in my opinion, the true beginning of spring.

 Childhood memories of fishing with my father and uncles still ring clear for me. Memories of slowly picking our way down a brook over slippery moss covered rocks, while trying to not lose my pole or get tangled up in shrubs and trees while trying to look as capable as any 10 year old possibly can. If I faltered or slipped my Dad would be the first to laugh asking me what my problem was. My father was a good natured person which was one trait I inherited from him so his jokes and jabs rolled off my back like water on a duck. To be any other way would of grounded me back at camp being seen as a hindrance and problem. So if I hurt myself on those wet rocks I always bit back the sting of tears over bruised knees and scraped hands. Sometimes it would be too much for me and I'd very gingerly enter the ice cold water and creep my way to my favorite boulder that sat in the center of the fast moving brook. I would drop my line in the water and wait for my father on his return trip.

 I loved that spot. I loved the warmth of the rock, hot from the sun and the dappled sunlight that sparkled on the water through the large overhanging tree and the sounds of the water as it trickled and cascaded between the rocks.  On the days when the bugs were tolerable with only the cicadas buzzing beneath the heat of the sun and the crickets singing in the shade of the tall grass, well, it was almost a given to fall asleep on that rock while laying on my tummy with my chin resting on my folded arms. I can remember a small pool of water collected between a ridge of rocks and the banks of the brook beneath the shade of the overhanging tree. I remembered that when I looked down into pool, between the reflections of the branches and leaves,  I could see the blue sky and slow moving white puffy clouds reflecting back into the pool. A perfect moment caught in a perfect memory. 

 I'd like to say that I think that fishing is an underrated pastime. Unlike pastimes like golf there is no aim for getting anything into any holes on the first shot. I've seen people I know where their whole week was ruined by a bad game of golf ... you know who you are!   

There is no such thing as a bad fishing day. Unless your next meal depends on catching fish then, not catching any fish is irrelevant. It's the experience of the fishing that counts. You won't ever see anyone fishing that is looking angry or enraged. Can't say the same about a golf course. Angry golfers are 'par for the course'.  With fishing, many times I've heard people say, " We didn't catch anything other than a few mosquito bites but, it sure was a great time."

When my boys were quite young there was a time when after our evening meals I'd pile them into the station wagon and take them to Rockwood Park to go fishing.

Rockwood Park is a 870 hectare or 2200 acre urban park located in the middle of the city of Saint John NB about 5 minutes from the city's uptown area. It holds over 10 fresh water lakes, horseback riding, bicycle trails, foot paths and so much more. Oh, and yes, it has a golf course. On any given spring or summer evening you can find many folk casting their lines into Lily Lake, located just inside the entrance to Rockwood Park. It's just a really great way to end the day. My boys loved it! When we'd return home they were fast asleep before we pulled into our driveway. Nothing like fresh air to relax a child and help them sleep better! 

 Reliving these memories urges me to go fishing although it's been about 5 years or so since I've done any.  Thoughts of casting my line high into the air, to hear the whizzing sound of the line and the satisfying plunk of the hook and sinker breaking the mirrored surface of a still lake and to watch as the soft ripples spreading out into perfect circles are inviting thoughts to me. Or maybe, cop-a-squat on a soft, green riverbed and let the force of the currents pull my bobber to and fro. Or maybe, better yet ... to be able to climb on top of a sun warmed boulder in the middle of a fast moving brook.  To be mesmerized by the dappled sunshine sparkling on the water, and lulled to sleep by the sound of the cicadas buzzing under the heat of the late day sun and the crickets softly chirping in the shade of the cool tall grass.

 These memories stir a yearning that rises up from deep within me. Memories of long ago summer days of a girl and her Dad, deep in the forest, picking their way along a brook, moving downstream, over wet mossy rocks looking for the perfect spot to drop our lines and sit in the warmth of the late day sun. It was always good.

 As I wrap up this writing my eyes keep getting drawn to glance through my windows out into the cove, on to Crowe Island and beyond to the Bay of Fundy. I've never fished her waters. I've never wanted to. It's unknown territory to me. It's one of those things where it's OK to leave some mystery, to never really know all the secrets of the deep ... and that's OK by me.

And to you dear reader - "Keep yer line in da wadder!"

Until the next high tide .......