Summertime in Nova Scotia
Warm African blood pumps through my veins, so hands down I am a summertime person. I love everything about it...life seems simple and uncomplicated when days are long and warm and filled with light. When I was getting ready to leave South Africa, and people who knew me heard I was going to live in Canada, it was always with a look of sheer bewilderment and confusion that I was trading eight months of sunshine to live in one of the coldest places on the planet. How would I survive?
Summertime in Nova Scotia seems to arrive in an instant. There’s nothing lazy or slow about it. Things seem to jump into high gear off the bat. It is a short and defined time, and it is as if nature knows it has a very limited time to be spectacular and impress us with her splendour. Our forest and surrounding garden reach tropical proportions in the space of two months. The forest that surrounds our house produces ferns comparable to those growing in a rain forest. A powerful combination of heat, long hours of daylight and rain causes an explosion of growth. We share our house with a menagerie of creatures. The Blue Jays, Chickadees, Hummingbirds and Woodpeckers feast from the feeders. ‘Chippy’ our resident red squirrel, lives in the fast lane, racing at hyper speed, stomping his tiny feet and jerking his tail violently at any one who gets between him and food. There is often an array of obstacles, like two beagles, a black and three humans. The family of black masked bandits who reside in a hollowed out branch of the 20 foot spruce tree that towers over our house, drive the two beagles crazy as they venture out to explore the nocturnal world. Surrounded by neighbours who think the raccoons are pests, I love the addition of the wildlife to our household. We have had a family of white tailed deer join us for a summer in the forest below our house, a bald eagle that is often perched high above on a dead spruce tree and a lone seagull that loves bananas. Harry our cat, believes we created all of this just for him and spends his days perched on a large granite boulder that serves as a lookout onto his kingdom.
It is the season of Lupines, Lilies, Peonies, Hydrangeas and wild roses. It is a mixed bag of weather from spectacular heat indices well into the 30s, to suffocating, humid clammy days. The days are long, with sundown way after eight o’clock. With the doors and windows flung wide open, the soft, delicate, sweet scent of the wild roses wafts through the house. As much as possible, we live and cook outdoors. A small round table, foraged for $12 from a thrift store, is brought back to summer splendour, with my mother’s small linen tablecloth, candles, and quickly picked wildflowers from the forest. This is where we eat most nights, amongst a canopy of bright green Maple, Oak and Birch trees. I only wear shoes if I must, giving my feet the much needed fresh air and freedom after months in socks and boots.