“In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.”~
I got to thinking that I should post pictures of snow for you, at the same time bring you all up to date. We brag to friends and family from away, especially those who are now up to more than their ankles in snow and frigid temperatures, that the heavy part of winter usually passes us by. But in truth we do get the occasional snow fall. That eight to nine inches that descended the other day wasn’t a lot in the grand scheme of things but we treasure these days knowing that they won’t last. They feel cozy and insulating. I pulled out my book du jour, lit a fire, donned my woollen socks and sweater and cocooned for a few hours. That container of veggie chilli and whole wheat rolls that I made last month and stashed away in the basement freezer made the perfect supper.
Duck Pond is frozen over now and in the morning the ever-growing flock arrives to grab whatever seeds fall from the bird feeders or what morsels of plant life remain poking through the blanket of white.
We have noticed some pairing off lately and now have our favourite couple-of- the-year. A male and female we call André and Béatrice, both mallards of pure looking lines. He is never far from her side, makes a point of discouraging suiters and quite often we see him guarding her while she forages for food. As they aren’t a part of our ‘regulars’ they are more cautious, so it’s been difficult to capture a decent picture of just them but we have hopes that in spring they will bless us with a new crop of ducklings.
Béatrice et André
Every so often I venture outside to our cold frame garden to harvest some greens. It wasn’t the huge success I was hoping for but we’ll make modifications another year experimenting with different crops and the structure gives us additional space when spring comes to get seedlings going.
Cold Frame Greens
Francois has had a lot of success with the lettuce seeds I planted indoors. With super grow lights and heating mats in the basement for his ‘special’ plants, my greens have flourished. Until my cold-framing improves I’ll have to be thankful for clippings of those and from my kitchen jar sprouting.
We left our Christmas tree up on our outside deck because it acts as a shelter for the small birds, most welcome I’m sure during the last storm with high winds and horizontal snow fall.
Our little RED by the Sea has become picture perfect with this new layer of white stuff. We know if won’t last because rain and warmer temperatures are forecast for tomorrow but from time to time we can enjoy these little gifts without it dragging us down, aching for spring thaw.
To celebrate my son-in-law’s birthday, my daughter booked us into a local hotel, a kind of staycation for us, a treat for the wildlings and an overnight reprieve for the sleep deprived parents. During the pandemic the hotel even made accommodation for pool usage. Water time booked for an hour with limited numbers, a warm shower, then by the time we were back to the room, dinner was dispatched and left touch-less at our room door thanks to the Skip the Dishes delivery service. It was all very magical until Wildling #1 decided to call 911 unbeknownst to us. I’m not sure whether the ensuing police visit and lecture from the uniformed officer was a reward or deterrent but it did add a touch of spice to the day.
A mighty ‘noreaster’ blew through the other day but we were ready for her. Several months ago we had our little home by the sea wired to accommodate a permanent generator. It was all a part of F’s ‘emergency preparedness’ plan….because that’s what he does so well. Prepares for the worst. Hopes for the best. So since then we’ve been ‘hoping’ for the ‘best’ possible storm. We’re like that. (loving our storms by the sea). And Momma Nature didn’t disappoint. By dawn one morning we found ourselves in the dark and a little chilly…but this time, with a flick of a panel switch…voilà!…we had coffee and warmth. And a big plus…and probably right up there with the warmth and coffee or at least a very close third place – we can flush the toilet, guilt free. Tee hee!! It’s the simple things you know. No beer or storm chips in the pantry but a nice bottle of wine will do when cocktail hour rolls around.
Rockin’ the Storm in Atlantic Canada
All caught up now, we leave you to enjoy Ground Hog Day. That special anniversary we have been celebrating happily for twenty five years now. Wow! A quarter of a century! It has been that kind of life together that we haven’t minded repeating over and over again.
Bed Picnic Deluxe
Welcome folks from away. So glad you stopped by for an update. This will be our fourth Christmas at RED by the Sea! Already! How is it possible that time has flown by so quickly? Yes we are busy old retirees. At least one of us would insist not old at all. We’ll call it vintage then. But I do think that as we age, the passing time seems to accelerate and there are days that I just want to stop it all and slow down so I don’t find myself wondering what the heck happened to this day, or this week, or this month or even this year. Well yes, admittedly this has been a very unusual year.
Bits and Pieces
We are creating such wonderful memories here in our little home by the sea. Being able to breathe in the salt-rich air and those walks to the beach for splashes and toe dips, sea glass hunting or just sitting to reflect on our good fortune to be living in this wonderful place.
Last year, as in the one before, we’ve enjoyed lots of visitors from afar. No wonder, I say! Who wouldn’t want to explore this place that has so much to offer. We’re never bored with repeat trips to Peggy’s Cove, another horse and buggy ride through old Lunenburg, and try to hold us back from a chance for one more wine tour. We too continue to explore every once in a while venturing farther afield to experience new curiosities. But this year has been like no other. No visitors. No family or friends from away…because of…well, you know why don’t you? That dreaded virus!
Bits and Pieces
We’ve gathered around us a circle of great friends. Some local, born and raised. Some, like Francois are from away but lived here before and craved to return. Or those who arrived years ago like me and raised their children who can now call themselves true Maritimers. The most curious are friends who have never lived here before, but have decided that this will be their retirement destination. They have no real connection here, no family or friends. Some may have visited. Some have only seen pictures. These are the love-at-first-sight folks who were enamoured with the idea of living by the sea. But all of those gatherings, filled with so much laughter and good cheer, have been silenced for now.
In past years, once Remembrance Day was over, I busied myself, dragging our boxes of Christmas ornaments, cranking up the tunes and getting in the holiday spirit. This year it has been more of a struggle to get in the mood. Our precious Atlantic Bubble has burst so we can no longer visit freely with our New Brunswick family this year. Travelling to be with our Quebec family is definitely out of the question as well. Even visits within Nova Scotia are restricted as small pockets of COVID cases sprout up here and there.
In recent times we’ve embraced wearing something fun for the holidays. Who could come up with the ugliest of Ugly Christmas Sweaters or last year’s over-sized homemade bow ties for the guys.
Motivation this year was lacking but I did find something memorable to mark the occasion…as if we needed more reminders. At least there will be a time when we will look back and laugh about the irony of it all.
We’re all decorated now though, with the most perfect tree, cut from a local tree farm, delivered by my son-in-law as a thank-you for F’s help with renovations to their beach house ‘Perch on the Bay’.
Our Most Perfect Tree
The nine foot beauty sits proudly on our front deck. It makes me smile when the lights come on around dusk and will become a sanctuary for winter birds when the snow comes. F leaves them homemade treats of suet, seeds and peanut butter and garlands of orange slices and cranberries. A special gift this year was a most welcome addition to our growing menagerie. Our first cardinal, who drops by the same time each day for a feed of sunflower seeds.
Bits and pieces of my holiday treasures have been placed here and there. We don’t have room for a proper tree inside so I decorated one of my house plants instead.
Our Little Pine
Now that the decorations are in place, it’s time for some baking. You may wonder why would I bother with almost no one with whom to share Christmas treats? Because, I say, it’s tradition. So we may gain a few pounds consuming them by ourselves…or I can package a few to leave on doorsteps as a gift from the neighbourhood Galley elf.
I feel so lucky to have this peaceful place to sit and sip, write and gaze, plan and think. There’s something about being by the sea that makes me feel more connected than any road or highway could.
My Happy Place
What’s missing though is the chaos, the excited anticipation, the clatter, the noise and laughter, those last minute trips to the store just in case and yes, the stress. All that makes Christmas, Christmas. I have decided to embrace my new normal and enjoy it for what it is. We are all safe. We are all healthy. We are all happy.
So in closing….to all our family and friends, our Sailing R.E.D. readers both near and far, may your holidays be full of wonder and magic. Treasure the moments knowing we are thinking of you all and hoping you are well and safe.
And of course, the Merriest of Christmases to you all, from Francois my forever Captain, and from me, the Galley Kat.
While we’re waiting for our RV – RED II – to be born and while we are working on developing our next chapter, I thought I’d send along an update of what’s happening in our little world by the sea. Basically…not a lot. Haha! Just bits and pieces but those bits and pieces make for busy lives.
Francois has been working hard at preparing the garden for the winter months, laying straw on our flower and garlic beds, and creating my awesome cold frame. He built it against the south-facing wall from where it receives maximum sun exposure and blasts of warm air from his basement grow tent. I mean, really! What plant babies wouldn’t thrive from cannabis fumes? May they grow ‘high’ and healthy. An experiment for us for sure but if this COVID thing has taught us anything, it’s to become as self-reliant as possible. A supply of winter greens, potatoes and carrots is the aim for now.
Weeding out summer growth from Duck Pond is another annual event. When we moved here three years ago…yes, three years already as of October 26 (Moving In) …happy happy house-aversary to us!…three years ago we didn’t know we had a pond but when the growth was cleared away we welcomed our first couple Herald and Maude who blessed us with seven ducklings the following spring.
Harold & Maude
Our first couple has no doubt moved on but we feel that some of their offspring remain. With plentiful fall rain the pond has been replenished and has become a sanctuary for no less than a hundred of our feathered visitors. Social distancing, obviously not a concern for them. We don’t feed them but they still seem to find enough plant life to satisfy and keep them returning and it’s so entertaining watching their seasonal mating ballet.
Francois’ battle of the squirrels continues. They have become a defiant bunch and nothing sets him off more than defiance…especially from a six inch rodent.
We’ve had our share of other critters too. Several raccoons have now been relocated as well as two or three ground hogs.
Please Release Me
Since selling RED we no longer had use of her winter home so sold it to a local contractor who now uses it to house his numerous outdoor toys.
Speaking of ‘numerous’ and ‘outdoor toys’…we have acquired a fancy bike rack and two e-bikes…that’s electric bikes for the uninformed. And as with our boat tent, our two hybrid bikes and old car rack have gone to a very good home. We have a series of great hiking/bike trails here created from former rail tracks – called Rails to Trails, and our plan is to complete, in sections, the Rum Runners trail – a 123 km route that connects Halifax and Lunenburg – before hard winter sets in. So far we’re a little behind schedule but there’s nothing to say on a favourable winter day we can’t still cycle…Nova Scotia weather can be that mild…at times.
E-bikes – Lucy and Ethel
Hallowe’en this year was somewhat different as trick and treaters had to devise new plans. We have yet to have goblins knocking at our door but joining in with the wildlings’ modified event hosted by Spiderman and the Joker was just as fun.
Spidey and the Missus
…maybe more so…with an easy ride around in the back of my son-in-laws trailer all snuggly and warm.
My Pirate and the wee Goblins
I think Francois is feeling somewhat competitive and has vowed to upgrade his costume next year
Charlotte’s Creative Web
The next event in our calendar meant a lot of planning/meetings/coordinating for Francois – Remembrance Day – but as usual, in spite of yet another modified event, that small limited turnout of legion members and veterans, a piper, and virtual broadcast, it was a moving intimate ceremony like no other.
So now that things are winding down…somewhat…for the season, we are beginning to make plans for the next chapter. As I mentioned above, there have been delays in delivery of our RED II, but we are fine with that. We can’t begin to enjoy her until next year anyway. In the meantime, I enlisted the help from my friend Shaune from Creative Solutions, who created our original R.E.D. logo way back in 2012 when we awaited the birth of our water baby. In her brilliance, she has come up with a logo that we feel depicts the next stage of our lives.
RED’s sail now points westward toward her new home in the Yukon. The symbolism of the Celtic Tree of Life (shown blowing us eastward) is ultimately about the forces of nature combining to create balance and harmony. The branches reach for the sky, the roots reach down into the ground (our new land-based existance). A representation of the link between mind and body and the never-ending cycle of life….and perhaps our ever changing life style.
So there you are folks…all caught up. We sincerely hope you are well. Stop back to visit us from time to time…virtually for now. Someday this craziness will be but a distant memory. For now we will remain in our little spot by the sea, hunkered down in our Atlantic Bubble doing our best to stay sane and in good health.