Category Archives: Nova Scotia

Early observations of Nova Scotia.

Wäsche an der Wäscheleine

Everyone has gardens.

Everyone has clotheslines.

The grass is so green.  Like crazy, shockingly green.  I don’t know what they do here, but Miracle Gro dreams of making lawns that green.

We’ve been soaking up our new province as we drive around (so far our opinions of the culture are mostly based on the view from the road).  I’m in love with it.  It reminds me very much of my childhood province, Newfoundland, yet contrasts very much with majestic, dynamic British Columbia, where I lived 20+ years.  The trees here are so very small.  But there are lots and lots of them.

Everyone has a box with a hinged lid for garbage at the end of their drive.  About the size of a chest freezer.  Sometimes the box IS a chest freezer.  Some boxes are fancier than others.

Mari-time seems to move a bit slower.  That’s not like Kootenay time, which just means everyone’s invariably late for any appointment and that’s kinda ok.  Mari-time just means people act like there’s enough time.  Always enough time for chatting, and moving without rushing.  I notice that while plenty of people drive the ubiquitous Canadian 10-over, plenty of people also drive 10-under, which is much more unusual to me.  That’s me these days, 10-under, rubbernecking gardens and the farmhouse architecture.  There just seems to be enough time, and that means enough time to not drive like a maniac.

When we were here a month ago and hitchhiked to Halifax I asked our driver for his advice to new residents.  He happened to be a 15-over guy but still he said “Slow down.  This isn’t Ontario.  Relax.”

People pile up a lot of firewood.

I get a general impression of self-reliance and resourcefulness.

There seems to be a higher percentage of older people.  Or maybe they’re just visible, because they’re outside.  Gardening, and raking, and building decks, and digging, and rummaging in sheds.  Looking healthy and moving sure and steady.  It feels good to have all that knowledge around.

H.W. was wondering why everyone has clotheslines (really, everyone has a clothesline, tidily strung with clothes; the first thing our neighbour insisted on giving us was a coil of clothesline); was it the wind?  I said well maybe it’s the economy and money-consciousness.  It makes sense to put clothes out when a dryer costs money.  I mean, of course it always makes sense to use a clothesline, but where people are wealthier the convenience may win over sense?  He burst out “Yeah, people do what makes sense here.  They have clotheslines, they have gardens, and they recycle.  We’re in the land of sense.”  which about sums it up.

My friend in Utah with a masters in civil engineering told me that Nova Scotia’s (and Edmonton’s and Scandinavia’s) waste management system is the envy of the world.  I believe it.  I remember being blown away by the local transfer station in 2010, with its meticulous required sorting.  One of the first things we noticed driving into Nova Scotia was the separated waste bin at Subway – compost, recyclable, trash.  Nothing generated by a Subway meal would go in the trash.  That and the driver who needlessly stopped for us to jaywalk made H.W. say “we live where there’s nice people, who recycle!” And then at Canadian Tire, and the gas station, and every public trash can anywhere – at least three slots.  Sometimes a fourth, for paper (which otherwise goes in the compost).  I really want to know how this province arrived at such a progressive, pervasive, successful operation.  Where did the political will come from?

At any rate, I’m so grateful to be here and love everything I see.

Photo from bartergreen.org

First week

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We’re here!

The ecstasy is setting in.  We deliberately planned to spend several days NOT zeroing in on any projects (very tough to do-required a strong intention), just arriving, adjusting, recalibrating, and observing.    We didn’t want to barge in with ideas and impose them on the property, but to plan with and around what presented itself here.  So we walk around looking at stuff and talking about it, and making many lists.

The place is crowded with life of all kinds- birds and rabbits and squirrels and chipmunks and porcupines and owls and hawks and snakes and coyotes and bald eagles and maybe a lost or feral tabby cat.  It’s a little awing.  Everywhere one steps or moves someone might already live there or be using the territory.  I feel awkward moving in, like excuse me, mind if we just budge in here?

Besides the tumbledown structures, everywhere there’s work to be done, work to balance and assist and improve the ecology.  Lots of areas in the forest are choked with one type of tree, the fruit trees are struggling in overgrowth, and piles of debris are cluttering up corridors.  There’s a ton of work.

IMGP6598H.W. can’t resist some manual labour, so he’s started to take apart the collapsed barn and also haul rock in the wheelbarrow from the nearby mine site gravel pile to reinforce our access road/“driveway”.  I dug out a rotten culvert and built it up and “bridged” it with big stones so it will endure being driven over without further collapse.

Also he’s been exploring on bicycle in all directions from the former rail trail and unmaintained road that form two of our boundaries.  He’s over the moon-ecstatic about the possibilities, and the wildlife.  In all directions, woods and wetlands and animals, and adventures.  So he’s off on his bike every evening, happier than I’ve ever seen him.

The air is incredible -truly fresh (as H.W. says, “the tress just made this oxygen”), and .  The weather has been lovely- the beginning of summer, with days full of warm sun, smatterings of rain.  Some days clouds are constantly coming and going overhead, but they keep it moving.  The trees are just popping leaves and buds.

IMGP6612Our sleep pattern has adjusted so quickly.  Seems instant.   Asleep at dark, awake at light.  Amazing how fast it happens without artificial light.

The change in me has come on fast!  I feel relaxed, I feel safe, my energy is returning, and that knowing that everything is working out the way it should and is right and whatever happens is right and ok – that’s back.   It’s been gone for so long.  My headaches are decreasing and my skin’s improved- everything feels better.   Like plants.  Slow if you sit to watch them grow, miraculous if you watch them over a few days.

We’re home.

We are here!

IMGP6538We are here!

A few days after my 40th birthday we finally arrived at our Nova Scotia property, to stay.

The waiting and preparing and working towards is over; we are here.

I was oddly shaky the night we arrived, trembling, and exhausted, as though I was burning out at the end of a marathon (which I don’t know anything about firsthand, but I’ve seen pictures of braver people that evoke how I felt). Every day and week up until now, work got done, list items were eliminated, bureaucratic necessities coped with, so that, arriving- a final hurdle, means that one list of have-to-dos has become very short, and another project is about to be begin. A new list is about to be written. But this time, it’s all part of something that we believe in, that we want to do and have dreamed into being already.

We are ready to be here. The relief is very big. It doesn’t flip like a switch, though, from distress to joy. Our bodies ease us through transitions, unfolding slowly into new states of being. Not unlike plants.

Nova Scotia I: Where to begin?


What a monstrous clean up is required.

We arrived at the property yesterday afternoon.  It was a beautiful day to first see it, sunny and mild.  Nova Scotia is gorgeous; I love it, all the churches and mix of colorful small houses and rolling hills of trees.  We hacked our way into the “driveway” far enough for my dad to park his truck in, and set up our tents and screened refuge.

The neighbour came over, pointed out a couple of wells and a survey pin.  I like the wells.  They seem built to last, and full.  Of course, it’s been very wet lately in Nova Scotia; everything is very green and lush.

My brother’s pictures manage to make everything look romantically weathered, but the reality is pretty dismal.

The house is a disaster of garbage.  The floors are covered with disintegrating debris that used to be clothing and bedding and paper, etc.  The drywall is rotting on the walls, the roof is breached, and the whole thing is tipping, drifting sideways off the dubious “foundation” points.  The whole thing hovers over a hole in the ground that’s full of water and more garbage.

I’m disappointed that I can’t save the house.  Dad says I can’t, that every aspect of it is compromised now.

The barn roof and loft have collapsed, and there are other little outbuildings and former outbuildings that have started to return to the earth.

There is still a meadow.  The aspens slope towards the middle, clearly seeding themselves further into the field every year.  There are fruit trees everywhere, but it’s like espionage, finding them.  The other trees are growing up so thickly through and around them that the canopy has completely closed over them. Continue reading Nova Scotia I: Where to begin?

Agent 009

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Poppies volunteering in the weeds by the back stairs.

Work proceeds on getting the Farm in the Forest.  The seller is very nice and honest and currently on the other side of the world, so every evening I watch breathlessly for the latest email coming in from an opposite time zone.

I’ve spent a remarkable amount of time on the phone and confuser,  talking to lawyers, researching the place, the community, the resources (3 CSAs in Nova Scotia), local bloggers, negatives, planning, water testing, moving options…

 

Next stop, Nova Scotia

So last night, “out of the blue”, like all real magic, we found a “Organic Farm in a Forest” listed on Craigslist.  Ridiculously cheap, by BC standards, for 20 acres of neglected orchard and agricultural land, old farm buildings in unknown condition, in… Nova Scotia.  Seeing as I was born in Newfoundland and get breathy talking about Halifax, it’s not like I’m considering buying lunar real estate sight unseen, but….close.

To say suddenly moving to Nova Scotia is HUGE is understating it a bit.  I’ve been running up and down the Pacific coast for roughly 18 years now- to leave the mountains for the Atlantic is breathtaking, and totally exciting.  New province, new politics, new everything.   Especially to choose it over 24 hours, seeing only a sketch and google earth.

I want this place.  I’m going to get it.