Full Moon Rising

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

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 ...