A Hot July Day in the Valley

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It was an occasion so we drove to the valley.  It started with a small hike in some kind of bird sanctuary near Kentville.  It was just past the Evergreen Home for the Aged believe it or not but there were no signs.  I checked the map and made a quick right. There was  big pond supposedly to relax the old folks and first I turned in there but felt it was wrong. I hoped I didn’t disrupt them.  Eventually I turned down the next unmarked road which was thin and dirt ridden and dusty.  It seemed to lead to nowhere but eventually I was rewarded with the sighting of a bird sign if I craned my neck down the  trail made for bikes which used to be for trains where I saw a sign for a bird sanctuary.  I didn’t see any place that could be a sanctuary but I saw a guy with a camera walking along.  I also saw and heard vehicles digging dirt out for some reason which may have explained the lack of wildlife.  Man messing around with nature for his own purposes.

I had to cross a scary wooden bridge to get there with upraised tracks for tires which were scary in case you missed them.  I guess you wouldn’t have tipped but it seemed like maybe you would have.  I got out and headed in these unknown woods and this time the bugs were rampant.  After the fact I bought repellent and batteries for the camera I had borrowed since mine went down.

This trail was flat an easy but nice to just walk alone in the woods except for the bugs.  I was alone with my thoughts going deeper into to the unknown which I love.  I passed a tree house if sorts which seemed to be unoccupied.  Sometimes you hear about hermits who live in the woods which sounds so interesting.  Living on your own and fighting the elements in a place that must not have thick walls and definitely not central heating.

The idea of being able to survive by your  wits with little money is appealing although I’d rather do it in winterless place but more kudos to those that make it through our cold climate.  To be self sufficient is a wonderful thing.

After that it was lunch at the Port Pub and Bistro.  It was not our original intention as it had seemed to slide on its original reputation.  Good food became so-so and overpriced.  Service was often snooty.    Why had we come back?  Well they had great lobster poutine and that had been my original intention but I had a stamp card for chowder so I got that instead and was not disappointed.  Good creamy taste and a decent amount of real seafood as some skimp on lobster, large enough shrimp or scallops often filling it with potatoes and other vegetables and no real cream.  Firs time I got a mussel shell in my mug.  This one delivered.  They are also very small and pricey if you get the cup.  Too much richness if you get the bowl.  We often overdo it when more of a teasing taste would do rather than a bombarding barrage .  Can that apply to other areas of our lives?  A second stamp in my Chowder Trail Passport if you are counting.  One more to a prize.  My mom loved her mushroom soup of the day shown below.

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So as if to smack me in the face, a couple sat down across from me who I overheard had come an hour from Halifax, no doubt for the poutine as both ordered it quickly and easily swallowed gulped it down with red wine and a cocktail – not my first choice for a drink with fries.  I suffered in silence ruing my choice though it was tasty and I got a second stamp on my Chowder Trail Passport (you only need three to qualify for a prize).  It looked good.  “I must come back”, I thought.  I remembered how tasty it was when I had it once before.  We were told that most of the kitchen staff had changed and that is why the place seemed better.  As well the  serving staff had gotten younger and the scary black-haired girl was not glaring at us or at least not on this day.

It was warm enough to sit outside as no wind was up.  I love al fresco dining when I can get it which can be rare in these parts.

From there it was on to dessert at the Evangeline Inn Cafe via a produce run at Noggins Corner where we usually grab something though it probably isn’t the cheapest place.  Things are local and fresh at any rate.  It’s nice to see what is in season rather than grabbing whatever the supermarket has.  I have enjoyed their corn maze numerous times though it is not always easy and I haven’t done the last few years.    They even have local bread or honey, meat and cider for example.  That said, supermarkets have become much better lately at providing locally farmed fruit and veggies and people are loving it. People write into the local paper about how they love the fresh strawberries and they will be buying them until they run out.  Corn is another big one which will be coming in August along with blueberries.

Canadian cuisine is not exactly world renowned but here’s the thing, you just need fresh local things boiled or grilled or baked most of the time.  Too simple to make a restaurant special except certain things like chowder and lobster poutine for example.  Tonight I had boiled potatoes and beets.  All you need is salt and butter generally.  More can be done if you must like my beet salad last night that had maple syrup in the vinaigrette.  Pan-fried haddock or boiled lobster are also simple and tasty for example.  The main non-Canadian element needed would be lemon.  Simple, subtly elegant and self-sufficient.  That describes the best of Canada and our food.   Easily recreated by the tourist in a cottage.

Today I bought a wine that said “Elegance starts within” even though it’s beyond my usual price point.   I liked the tagline.  It was Argentinian which is my fave but this  is a post about Canada.  I was told that most vineyards there are unsprayed as they just don’t have so many bugs in that area.  I hope that that is true.  There are organic wines in various places.

Back to the Evangeline Inn Cafe.  We ordered strawberry rhubarb pie and tea.  Nothing really special.  I wish she’d asked if I wanted it heated.  They are known for their pies.  Not bad but not rushbackworthy.  Sometimes the ones you buy at Noggins Corner can be.  It’s farm country.  There are those with great pie recipes and the fresh fruit at their disposal.

At the Kentville Tourist Bureau which was open on this trip (though only 10 – 3) I had fortuitously picked up a brochure for Grand Pre.  I had been in the area before but had passed on the famous church as being too expensive for a local tourist.  Maybe one day.  What I didn’t know until recently is that the area has gotten the Unesco magic fairy wand touch.  I have visited this area previously in a previous post about a vineyard in the area.

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On this heated, sultry day I explored further afield and even reached the beach.  While not spectacular for a beach it did offer up ice cream cones in what looked like a 50’s style dance hall which I’m told was once popular back in the day.  I thought of Dirty Dancing.  The view of Cape Blomidon was spectacular as usual.  I recently saw this beauty in the movie Amelia standing in for Ireland.

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The beach was reddish and rocky but a few people went in.  It was definitely beach weather.  Hot bordering on humid and not a breath of air to be had which felt odd as often I have been in the area and it has been extremely breezy as if the Bay of Fundy funnels in the excesses of the North Atlantic.  The Atlantic is notoriously windy.  I have experienced it from Nova Scotia to Argentina and Portugal to Morocco.

At this beach I read how it is a lifesaver for the semipalmated sandpiper where it gorges on small shrimp en route to its migration grounds.  It’s pretty neat how nature sets things up.  A beefing up to help on the long flight. How do they know?  How did they ever know?  Some would cite spiritual reasons here.  Who knows how it all works and that is one of the joys of exploring nature.   In fact this lovely viewpoint sums it all up.  There are some Red Chair destinations throughout Nova Scotia but this is the first one I have encountered.  How wonderful is this view with the church steeple and Cape Blomidon in the background signifying religion backed by nature as viewed by humans with their creations (as seen above).

Birds that migrate long distances never cease to amaze me.  Not something humans could do on their own.  Going back to Amelia.  Twice she landed in the wrong countries.  Guess she didn’t have a very good radar system.

Returning back I saw the dyke system though it must have been modernized since the Acadians were there.  It was so calm and quiet as I looked out over the blue water and distant green land.  A few people were fishing and families were frolicking.  An older man went walkabout with his camera.  I love quiet, contemplative areas and with the lack of wind this was feeling just about perfect if a bit too hot.

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Traversing the flat dykelands again back towards the secondary road led to another location recommended on the pamphlet.  It was necessary to pass a farm with signs warning of children so we had to drive slowly.  The dirt road finally ended again at the water’s edge which was the point of the forced deportation of the Acadians which was marked by this beautiful cross unlike any I had seen before with a message written on one side in French and the other in English.  I inhaled the temporarily humid serenity as I looked out to the wonderful coast and island.  It was hard to believe that a sad event had happened here.  A haze lifted in the sea making everything seem as if in a dream.  Birds rose and fell in the distance while creating a distant sound of protest.

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There were signs detailing the events of the past.  History can seem hard to reach and remember but we should try to learn about things as there is often a lesson that we need to learn.  Things can change but let’s hope that the peace of North America ensues and that it comes back to those who have temporarily lost it in other parts of the world.

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During this trip we passed various roadside tables set up with women selling strawberries.  In the end we stopped at one and got a red hot sweet deal (no pun intended).

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