It rained on Friday… a lot, the thunder was loud and the wind howled. Saturday morning, however, was perfect. It was sunny and calm, with a freshness in the air that was, as I said earlier, just perfect.
The birds were chirpy, and I was happy to see that we have barn swallows building a nest in the rafters. I could watch them for hours as they flit around catching bugs in the air; cheering them on as they scoop up black flies and mosquitoes for breakfast.
Did I mention, the weather was perfect? We decided to head out for the day. Digby Neck and the smell of the sea breeze was calling, or was it the promise of Sissiboo coffee and home-baked cookies at the Digby Neck Collective yard sale? Either way, we took Hwy 217 down the ‘Neck. Not the most inspiring of names, but what the name lacks, is more than compensated for by the scenic drive that takes you through picturesque fishing villages and offers glimpses of rocky bays and sandy beaches.
Our first stop was ‘The Artists Mark’. Polymer clay is something that many of us played with as children, but what Vickie Turner creates, is far from child’s play. Quirky little figures, full of character and expression, sat on the shelves, along with steam punk bracelets and exquisite jewellery. Vickie explained how she forms tessellated canes with various colours of clay, which is then sliced into beads, all intricately wired together.
Then we moved onto the yarns that her daughter hand dyes. Growing up in Norway, Vickie has an affinity with knitting, which is very evident in the beautiful shawls that she designs and hand-knits to showcase the luxurious yarns. My favourite was a lacy design in muted shades of blue, mauve and green, chosen to reflect the natural landscape outside her door.
Finally, we had a lesson in geology. After purchasing and renovating their home and artist’s studio, they discovered that the area is rich in geology and Vickie’s husband just happens to be a geologist! The window sill was loaded with incredible gems all found right on their doorstep.
I could tell you more, but it’s best if you go and take a look yourself.
Whale Cove was our next diversion. As the name suggests, whales can often be seen from this small cove on the Bay of Fundy. We didn’t see any today but we enjoyed a short stroll along the shoreline, filling our lungs with the salty sea air, before heading on to East Ferry.
On most days we would have taken the two ferries across to Long Island and Brier Island, but instead we looped around and meandered back through the fishing community of Little River.
By the time we got back to Sandy Cove the tide had receded and the beach beckoned us. A stranded fishing boat, with a gaping hole in her side and a belly of barnacles, deserved a closer look. Anyone who knows John will know that he can’t resist an old engine or rusty mechanics, so it wasn’t long before he was on deck and delving deeper. I just like barnacles!
Our final stop was to see the replica of Maud Lewis’ house. For my friends outside of Nova Scotia, Maud is one of Canada’s most beloved folk artists, who lived just outside Digby, NS. Despite suffering from physical birth deformities, as well as juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, and living in poverty, she painted joyful paintings, full of colour, often of flowers, oxen teams, horses, birds, deer, or cats, which she sold from her tiny house which she also decorated with similar colourful images.
The replica was built by Murray Ross, who we were lucky to meet. Murray first met Maud when he was ten years old and he was able to tell us a few stories of the artist. After Maud died in 1970, Murray spent a lot of time thinking about her and he felt compelled to build the house and share her story and his memories of her. (The original house is in the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia.) The one room house is an exact replica, built to scale and is open to the public by freewill donation.
On that note, we returned home to check on the progress of our barn swallows building their tiny house. It won’t be as colourful as Maud’s, but it’ll definitely be joyful to see the baby chicks.