From our scenic little lookout on the top of the North Mountain, Nova Scotia, the Bay of Fundy lay to one side and the beautiful agricultural lands surrounded. With my number one adventure buddy, another volunteer named Lisa, we spent lots of days or even the slither of an afternoon exploring our new backyard.
Bay of Fundy is famous for its incredible falling tides, a 30 ft/ 11metre difference, meaning that when the tide is out it recedes fast and far leaving endless amounts of beach. Along one stretch of coast, the variety is incredible. Some beaches are shingle, others boulders, marsh or mud flats. The towns that hugged the coastline were colourful and quaint. Halls Harbour and Harbourville both emanated their sleepy personalities with little going on apart from the evidence of their fishing lifeblood. At Kingsport beach, red sandy soil fringed the coastline. Lisa and I were expecting to meet one of her friends there, and after a seemingly infinite walk, found him perched on the clifftop overlooking miles of pristine beauty. We even had a beach on our doorstep, a short walk or jog down the hill to the water. Here dramatic rocks fringed the cliff edge.
Our mountaintop perch was close to Blomidon Provincial park and also the hike to Cape Split, a jut of land out into the Bay. Lisa and I set out on the 12km hike, whilst on the way she taught me an Austrian hiking song to help us keep pace. Cape Split is an easily recognisable section of coast as the steep point drops away, with a few teeth like rocks marking its end. Whilst the hike winds through forest, when it emerges to the cliff edge, it does so with dramatic drop aways. One of our most exciting adventures however was a little closer to home. At dusk Lisa and I set out for a Porcupine Hunt. These quilled creatures are actually more like the size of a turkey and despite the rumours, cannot launch their quills at you. Instead they turn their back in defence, but have sweet little faces and make impressive tree climbers. Having been successful in our first aim, we continued out into the now empty camp and found a skunk running around, having a playful time. It then became a popular nightly adventure, porcupine spotting.
Wolfville was our closest town. A university city with wineries and fresh produce, best sampled at the Saturday morning farmers markets where musicians sang along in the sun. Wednesday nights were also filled with all the best smells of tasty dinners to sample. The town had a pretty impressive church converted into a brewery, so named the church. The stain glass windows and song boards set the atmosphere of the bustling bar. Just outside of town, Ross Creek staff and the actors from the theatre show, visited the Tangled Gardens. Endless imagination spills into the garden is split into mazes and serene areas. They serve home made jams and goodies, made even more delicious by hot scones and tea.
Whilst at the arts centre, there was many different things going on. Summer camps were coming to a close and Fall was filled with theatre shows, book signings and Artists Residencies. Plays were performed around the campfire giving a special Nova Scotia atmosphere, and evenings were filled with singalongs. It was amazing to be surrounded by so many talented people.
Our many jobs included tending to the garden, stacking to wood, and interestingly enough, battening down the hatches for my first ever Hurricane. Hurricane Dorian was making its way for Atlantic Canada after its devastation in the Bahamas. Whilst everyone banded together to tie down anything that could be catapulted in the anticipated winds, once the storm hit it was just to be Julian, Lisa and I at the centre. We transformed some of the office space into a sleepover zone, specially selected for its big window for optimum storm watching. Saturday came and brought with it rain, and increasing wind. We stockpiled water and cooked all we could think of. Just after midday the power went out. By candlelight we spent the rest of our day waiting for the eye of the storm, at which time we were stationed with a glass of wine by the window watching it all be blown by.
By the time the daylight returned the following morning, we were expecting to still see dramatic scenes. Instead the flood water had subsided and calm appeared to have resumed. As soon as we began to make our way off the mountain, it was clear just how much devastation had happened. So many trees had been blown over, each one appearing to take a power line with it. In Halifax a house had lost its roof and a crane had rather impressively entangled itself around a building. The luck was incredible though. It had hit a building which was under construction, rather than its fully inhabited neighbour. Trees had scuffed neatly between things they could have crushed, and no-one had been hurt. The power outage meant that traffic lights were down and the city was in a sleepy, coffee deprived haze, with only a few places hooked up to generators. As we took bets as to when the power would come back on, we were continually impressed with the severity of the situation. 80% of the province was out of power and it was over 5 days before it would eventually return. Towns set up comfort centres for power and wifi, and as certain lines were repaired people opened their homes to their neighbours for laundry and showers. The community spirit and famous Maritime friendliness was warming. We met locals as we were invited to share meals in houses of new friends, a special opportunity to share stories and live through the lives of others. Still, once the power was back, it felt like a long awaited luxury.