Posted in Video Review

Conviction

We headed back to New Glasgow on Thursday. Thursday has become Reader/Register day. This week’s news included an update on the candidates to replace Stephen McNeil. They appear to be Carman Kerr and Bill MacDonald.

In the evening, we watched Conviction, a documentary by Nance Ackerman.


‘Conviction went inside Canada’s women’s prisons to imagine alternatives to incarceration through art and music and premiered at the Hot Docs International Film Festival’.

I checked out Nance Ackerman’s web site. It took me to other documentaries, Heartstring Productions in Tupperville with her partner Jamie Alcorn, and Cousin Tours, workshops with Nance and her cousin, Laurie Nassif.

This reminded me of Anne Crossman’s list of local authors. In this case, it would be a list of creative film makers. It also reminded me of Carman Kerr and his interest in Adventure Tourism.

Acknowledgements

Heather journeyed with me to New Glasgow. Edward added the links and graphics. Anne Crossman shared her interest in local authors.

References

Through nanceackerman.com, you can find links to documentaries : Conviction, Carry me Home, Cousins Photo Tours.

Anne Crossman column in the Register, April 8th. lists many of our local authors.

Posted in Article Review

Easter Eggs

We came up to New Glasgow for Easter. As usual, it was an opportunity to catch up with the latest magazines. In Saltscapes, there is a photoessay by Scott Leslie, Migrant Songs of Spring.

Every Spring we welcome back throngs of songbirds to the region’s forests, as neotropical migrants of every shape, size and colour lift our spirits with a serenade that grows a little quieter each passing year. By truly adopting in both spirit and practice ecologically sensitive sustainable forestry practices we can ensure that this wondrous natural event can continue indefinitely.” p.49.

In Canada’s History, Nancy Payne’s Dreams of Harmony describes the utopian Finnish community of Sointula on Malcolm Island. Malcolm Island is off the northeast coast of Vancouver Island.

Even though it’s name means place of harmony in Finnish, life in Sointula had never been easy. Born of deeply held beliefs in equality, cooperation and hard work, the colony had for a few short years at the start of the twentieth century, offered a shining alternative to a world of exploitation and competition” p.36.

Canada’s History magazine used to be The Beaver. It is the history equivalent to Canadian Geographic.

Refreshed, I continued with my reading of Wendell Berry’s essays. From Preserving Wildness, p.151

Looking at the monoculture of industrial civilization, we yearn with a kind of homesickness for humanness and the naturalness of a highly diversified, multipurpose landscape, democratically divided, with many margins. The margins are of utmost importance. They are the divisions between holdings, as well as between kinds of work and kinds of lands. These margins – lanes, streamsides, wooded fencerows, and the like – are always freeholds of wildness, where limits are set on human intention.” p.151.

Acknowledgements

John Stewart for his magazine subscriptions. Edward for his editorial graphics. Heather for her support.

References

Scott Leslie. Migrant Songs of Spring. Saltscapes. April/May 2021 Vol 22 No 2. p. 44-49.

Nancy Payne. Dreams of Harmony. Canada’s History. April/May 2021. p.36-43.

Wendell Berry. 1987. Home Economics. Preserving Wildness. p.137-151. North Point Press.

Posted in biographical sketch, Video Review

A Global View

There are days when Spring has not arrived. It is cold rain and windy, a time for watching a video in front of the woodstove. This week, we watched two movies:

  1. The 100 Year March: a Philosopher in Poland.
  2. Seaspiracy

Klaus and Shirley recommended the first; Edward recommended the second.

A Philosopher in Poland looks at the events of the Second World War and the freedom of the Polish people. Seaspiracy looks at the global exploitation of the oceans: the killing of whales, sharks, tuna indeed it deals with all marine species. Both films provide a sobering perspective on today’s society.

A Philosopher in Poland raises the question of nation states. This is particularly poignant given the time of COVID. What lessons can/have been learned from the Second World War? It would be interesting to see similar documentaries on other countries e.g.Russia, China, the United States. And, at the local level, Canada and Nova Scotia.

The same is true for Seaspiracy given the Canadian (Nova Scotia) approach to the management of natural resources. What is happening off the coasts, in terms of the fishing industry? Canada is bounded by three oceans.

Looking for answers, I happened upon a short essay in Wendell Berry’s book Home Economics, titled ‘A Nation rich in Natural Resources’, p 133-136. It was helpful. (also, see HERE)

”Indeed, once our homeland, our source, is regarded as a resource we are sliding downwards towards the ash heap or the dump”.

The ‘icing on the cake’ was the recent Guardian Weekly, March 26, 2021. It included two items on the United Kingdom. Edward Docx ‘Send in the Clown’ Making sense of Boris Johnson and Priyamvada Gopal ‘Why can’t Britain handle the truth about Churchill?’

Both articles led to a reflection on the post-war era in England. My time was 1945-1969. I arrived at the University of Western Ontario to start graduate work in Geography, over fifty years ago. Canada is now my homeland.

Acknowledgements

Edward and Klaus/Shirley for their viewing recommendations. Edward added the graphics. Heather shared the viewing.

Postscript
NEW SUBWAY CONSTRUCTION ACCIDENT IN COPENHAGEN DENMARK
Details HERE.

Image courtesy of Lars Andersen

Reminder of what day this is!

References

The 100 year March: A Philosopher in Poland. Stefan Molyneux, host of Freedomain Radio

Seaspiracy on Netflix

Wendell Berry, 1987, Home Economics: A Nation rich in Natural Resources, p.133-136, North Point Press

Posted in Book Review

Buckler and Berry

This week , I needed to find some ‘light reading’. I packed up a box of books to take to the Endless Shores bookstore in Bridgetown. They will give me credit towards any book that I might purchase.

When I was last in Bridgetown library they had a display copy of “Nova Scotia: Window on the Sea”. However, it could not be taken out of the library. I found a copy at Endless Shores. It was written in 1973. Buckler wrote the text to accompany the photographs by Hans Weber (see fiftieth anniversary note HERE).

Would the writing continue the style from Ox Bells and Fireflies 1968? Included are five essays: Amethysts and Dragonflies, Mast and Anchors, Man and Snowman, Faces and Universes, Counterfeit and Coin (see posts, Chance Encounters and Pastoral Economy).

In Buckler’s words, “Nova Scotia is nearly an island, nearly the last place left where place and people are not thinned or adulterated with graftings that grow across the grain.” p.12 or

It’s mountains take on no Cabot lordliness. They chat like uncles with their nephew valleys.”p.12.

Nova Scotia is the face from Genesis and the face from Ruth. The face from Greco and the face from Rubens. The life of Faulkner and the life from Hardy…..It is a dictionary where the seasons look up their own meanings and test them. It is a sea-son where men can man their own helms.” p.16

After finding Buckler, I went on a search for George Orwell (Eric Blair). I found “Animal Farm” but was not ready to read it. Instead I chanced on Wendell Berry, “Home Economics: fourteen essays“. The last essay is titled “Does Community have a Value?” It describes farming in the hilly country near Port Royal (Kentucky) in 1938.

The local community must understand itself finally as a community of interest — a common dependence on a common life and a common ground. And because, a community is, by definition, placed, its success cannot be divided from the success of its place, its natural setting and surroundings : its soils, forests, grasslands, plants and animals, water, light and air. The two economies, the natural and the human, support each other; each is the other’s hope of a durable and a livable life.” p.192.

I think the same is true for Nova Scotia.

Acknowledgements

Jennifer Crouse, owner of the Endless Shores Books and other Treasures. Edward added the graphics. Heather shared our weekend reading of Voice of the People, Chronicle Herald March 27 D4. Are we ‘tree-huggers’ or’sub-hillbillies’ ?

References

Ernest Buckler and Hans Weber, 1973, Nova Scotia: Window on the Sea, McClelland and Stewart Ltd.

Wendell Berry, 1987, Home Economics: Fourteen essays by Wendell Berry, North point Press.

Postscript

I wanted to title the blog ‘Buckler and Blair’ to correspond with the Ernest Blair Experiment but had to settle for Buckler and Berry.

Posted in New thinking, Opinion

Nanny State

Friends, Shirley and Klaus Langpohl, in an email comment, made reference to Nova Scotia as a ‘Nanny State’. This took me back to the UK and the days of Margaret Thatcher. In these days of COVID and the state of Health Services in Nova Scotia, it’s hard not to be concerned about the ‘nanny state’.

To offset this thought, Heather and I watched a Zoom presentation on Glyphosate spraying and it’s impact on wildlife and forest birds. Presented by Rod Cumberland and Marc-Andre Villard, and moderated by Catherine Harrop, CBC.

It was revealing to learn that Glyphosate spraying has been banned in Quebec. Also, there is a lot of scientific evidence on the impact of Glyphosate spraying in New Brunswick. In New Brunswick, the scientific community is at odds with JD Irving and the Forest industry.

What is happening in Nova Scotia?

Last Summer, we managed to stop spraying on a few parcels. What will happen this season? From the Zoom call, we learned that the spray season tends to be August-September. The land that has been clear-cut this Winter, will it be sprayed this August/September? What happens to the residue, will it flow into the river systems? Last Summer, the village of Lawrencetown had to notify the government about our water supply.

Who will be watching in 2021?

Given the situation in Quebec and New Brunswick, why are we spraying Crown lands? This must STOP! It will only stop, if there is community engagement and we pay attention to the science.


To change the topic, and offer a more optimistic tone. From Chelsea Green Publishing, online ‘Farming for the Future: a journey into regenerative practice’ webinar series. This involves collaboration with Dartington Trust. I went to their web site.

They offer a M.A in Arts and Place. Does that sound like a good fit for Annapolis County? We have a significant number of artists living in the region AND we have a Centre of Geographic Sciences.

Dartington Trust is in Totnes, Devon, England and is linked to Schumacher College (Small is Beautiful).

Acknowledgements

Klaus and Shirley for helping me focus. Jacob Fillmore and Extinction Rebellion fighting to save our forests from clearcutting and aerial spraying. Edward and Heather contribute in so many ways.

References

Rod Cumberland and Marc-Andre Villard Zoom meeting moderated by Catherine Harrop, CBC.

Chelsea Green Publishing , Farming for the Future Webinar Series

Dartington Trust M.A in Arts and Place.

Posted in Opinion

Spring Break

First, let me thank Edward Wedler for his blog contribution. The mapping of Plein Air Art sites supports our tourism industry.

While away in New Glasgow, I received the Winter Solstice newsletter from Bras D’Or Lake Biosphere Reserve. Check out the link below. It is a worthwhile read.

As we crossed the Kings-Annapolis County line on Highway #101, I noted the Southwest Nova Biosphere Reserve sign and wondered why a similar newsletter is not available here. Both biosphere reserves operate under the criteria set down by the UNESCO Man and Biosphere program. And yet, we still see the ongoing debate about forestry practices in our region.

On Friday, I picked up the latest Bridgetown Reader. It now offers a regular section ‘Reading where we live’. This week, it features Robie Tufts and’Birds of Nova Scotia’. Another new feature is the Word Search.

Since Stephen McNeil is not re-offering in the next provincial election, we are beginning to see candidates vying for the Liberal seat. In the current Reader, there are advertisements from Bill MacDonald, Carman Kerr and Susan Robinson-Burnie.

Given my concern about glyphosate spraying, as part of clearcutting (click here, here and here), I hope that we have candidates who support the Man and Biosphere values for Southwest Nova. This does not appear to have been the case under the present Liberal government.

For background, I would recommend the essay by Harry Thurston in The Sea among the Rocks ‘The Enemy Above, Millstream, New Brunswick’.

Coincidentally, Harry was interviewed Sunday by Angela Antle on CBC Atlantic Voice about his latest memoir, Lost River.

Postscript.

Frank Fox sent along the link to the Weekly Guardian. ‘Activist on hunger strike, calls for Canadian government to halt logging.’ In this case, it is the Nova Scotia government.

From the Bras D’Or Lake Biosphere Reserve Association (BLBRA).

Please help us connect people and nature. You can enrich the Bras D’Or Lake and it’s watershed through sustainable development, conservation and climate change adaptation. With the spirit of community and the power of global presence we can keep the lake golden. We are all in this together

I agree wholeheartedly from the perspective of the Southwest Nova Biosphere Reserve.

Acknowledgements

Frank Fox for the Guardian link. Edward Wedler for his blog on mapping Plein Air Art.

Heather shares my concern about the status of the Southwest Nova Biosphere Reserve and the impact of glyphosate spraying.

References

Harry Thurston, 2002, The Sea among the Rocks, Pottersfield Press.

Harry Thurston, 2020, Lost River, Gaspereau Press.

Bras D’Or Lake Biosphere Reserve quarterly newsletter, Spring Equinox Edition, March 20, 2021.

The Bridgetown Reader, Volume 13, Issue 9, March 19, 2021.

Posted in Art, New thinking

Mapping Nova Scotia Artists’ Plein Air Sites

Fifty-two paint-out sites are planned for this season’s plein air artists in the Annapolis Valley and HRM.

For location details, click the map link: http://tinyurl.com/PleinAirMap then click a map pin or legend.

The one valued attribute of those artists who paint outdoors, on location (en plein air) is “extended geographic memory”. We watch, listen, smell, taste and touch our surroundings — for 2-3 hours. Geography becomes imprinted. As we gain artistic skills, we paint more than what we know. We paint more than what we see. We paint what we feel.

Eric Rhoads, publisher of Plein Air magazine and Fine Art Connoisseur magazine in the USA, states that the plein air movement is currently the fastest growing art movement in the world. There are tens of thousands of plein air artists in the world. So when they reacted positively to my interactive Google map that was a big deal for me. This is probably the first such map for plein air artists in the world, and so much more is possible.

Wow, that is very cool!

— Plein Air Magazine

I wrote back to Plein Air magazine, “Thanks. I did this on my own but with the right development team in place [thinking COGS’ student project] a plein air map could be scaled globally so artists could see when and where paint-outs are located, with contact and other information. This would go a long way to network the plein air community on their travels.“. They are now looking into this further.

Reactions from elsewhere have also been very positive.


POSTSCRIPT

Not many of our readers know we have a celebrated, world-class plein air artist living in Digby, Nova Scotia; just down the road.

Poppy Balser recently received yet another prestigious international award. This time it was for her watercolour “Light Washes Over Tidal Pools”, inspired by her many visits to Point Prim and area.

Oh, why not toot my own horn? A website I share with Anne is located at wedlerfineart.com
95% of our work is en plein air.

Posted in New thinking, Opinion

GIS and Vaccination

Brenda Thompson raised the question about travel time to vaccination clinics (CH Wednesday, March 17, page A8). From the description it appears that there are presently no vaccination clinics in Annapolis and Digby counties for the over 80 cohort, partly because of the specialized storage requirements.

In the same time window (this week) I have noticed:

  1. Statistics Canada is seeking to hire staff for the next census;
  2. COGS is looking for graduating student projects in Lawrencetown.

Let me join the dots.

Not too many years ago, the provincial government had a group called Community Counts. This group used GIS technology to massage Statistics Canada census data at the enumeration area (EA) level. Given the need to locate vaccination clinics throughout Nova Scotia to meet the diverse needs of the population, would it not make sense to use this type of information and technology to map the demand?

Here is my proposal.

Obtain the latest census information for the province. Map the existing vaccination sites. Analyse the travel time for citizens to attend these sites. Identify the additional vaccination sites which maximize the accessibility for vulnerable populations.

In my day (pre-2011) this would be a relevant, excellent public service project for students graduating from COGS.

If we wanted to add an additional dimension, how about a map of citizens without a family doctor? Or access to high speed Internet? These are all examples of geographic research which could be facilitated by NSCC and CORAH . It is also an example of giving citizens access to public information. It’s also the “community” in Community College.


Ray Cronin has an essay in A Plague Year Reader on Maud Lewis. Here are a couple of quotations:

One cannot discuss Maud Lewis without also discussing tourism and the economic factors that made tourism so important in her life.”

“Tourism has been the most successful strategy for bringing jobs, even if only seasonally, to rural Nova Scotia. That seasonal market, coupled with government assistance programs, enabled people to stay in their rural homes and help fuel a folk art boom in the latter half of the 20th century unique to Nova Scotia in its scope and impact.”
p.115.


From Oliver Sacks’s book ‘Why we need gardens?’ p.243-247

The wonder of gardens was introduced to me very early, before the war, when my mother or Auntie Len would take me to the great botanical gardens at Kew.

The effect of nature’s qualities on health are not only spiritual and emotional but physical and neurological. I have no doubt that they reflect deep changes in brain physiology and perhaps even its structure

I remember well trips to Kew Gardens (see also The Royal Landscape) from my childhood days in West London.

Acknowledgements

Edward provided his critical artistic eyes. Heather shared the same space.

References

Ian Fairclough, Woman questions travel time to vaccine clinics, Chronicle Herald, Wednesday March 17, 2021, A8.

Ray Cronin, Gaspereau Field Guides to Canadian Artists, No. 5. Maud Lewis: Creating an Icon.

Oliver Sacks, 2020, Everything in its Place, Vintage Canada.

Posted in biographical sketch, Book Review

Happenstance

Siqsiq enjoys walking the trails in the Village of Kingston park. For her it is the chance to savour the scent trails, not found at home on the property in Paradise.

We added some extra dimensions to the trip. Rather than taking the direct route along Highway #1 or #201, we explored the country roads, along the edge of South Mountain from Nictaux Falls to Torbrook, Tremont to Greenwood.(page 55-56,Nova Scotia Atlas). This route offers spectacular views across the Valley to see the forest cover on North Mountain.

In Greenwood, we stopped at the Inside Story. On the newspaper rack, I spied A Plague Year Reader. It was free ‘Being a sampler of books issued by Gaspereau Press in the complicated year 2020’. The catalogue, of course, was beautiful in its black cover design.

For each publication, it includes the object, synopsis, about the author, Q & A with the author. The section headings are poetry, prose and limited editions. Within prose, I gravitated to Lost River: the Waters of Remembrance by Harry Thurston and Maud Lewis: creating an icon by Ray Cronin. Under limited editions, Wendell Berry. Notes: unspecializing poetry and Aldo Leopold Wherefore Wildlife Ecology ?

There was also time to purchase a book: Oliver Sacks’ Everything in its place, published in 2019. Sacks died in 2015.

So far, I have enjoyed ‘Remembering South Kensington’. I remember, too, the museums of South Kensington, especially the Natural History and Science museums. The result of a childhood, living in West London.

On the back cover, Maria Popova, Brain Pickings comments:

Everything in its place is a wondrous read in its entirety, irradiating Sack’s kaleidoscopic curiosity across subjects”.

I look forward to reading the remainder of Sack’s collection.

Check out, Brain Pickings, March 14, 2021 Wendell Berry’s poem, written in 1968, The Peace of Wild Things.

Postscript

With the occasional Spring day, we have been able to get into the orchard for the annual pruning. A delight !

Addendum
This is for Rocky Hebb

Let us read Nova Scotia Premier Iain Rankin‘s, Rethinking our health and wealth. Chronicle Herald D3, updated March 13th.

We will be asking whether existing programs are affordable, but more importantly asking whether they enhance our lives and livelihoods, and whether they sustain or harm the environment.”

Well, Mr Rankin, we will be watching closely how your actions sustain the environment. We have not been too impressed by your actions, when you had direct responsibility for this portfolio, under former Premier, Stephen McNeil. Specifically, the question of spraying and clearcutting of the forested landscape.

Acknowledgements

Heather and Siqsiq shared the walk and drive. Staff at Gaspereau Press and the Inside Story for their service to the community.

References

Andrew Steeves, 2021, A Plague Year Reader, Gaspereau Press.

Oliver Sacks, 2019, Everything in its place: first loves and last tales, Vintage Canada.

Maria Popova, Brain Pickings, March 14, 2021.

Iain Rankin, Rethinking our health and wealth. Chronicle Herald, updated March 13, 2021, page D3.

Posted in Opinion

Found Words

Last week, Heather attended a Centre of Rural Aging and Health (CORAH) seminar at the NSCC campus in Middleton. The concept of rural aging intrigued me. How does that contrast with urban aging? Does rural aging take into account the lack of high speed Internet or the shortage of family doctors?

Peter Nicholson and Jeff Larsen (Chronicle Herald, page D4) talk about the province leading in digital and virtual health care, post-pandemic. Will that help in rural areas of Nova Scotia? Interestingly, Edward Wedler discovered a reference to their web site ‘Policy Wonks’. Check it out.

As a a member of the Retired Teachers Organization (RTO) this week, I also received notification of two seminars, related to aging. From Aging 2 Halifax. Technology and Seniors: Stories that resonate. on March 15 and 18.

My belief is that we need to deal with our sense of place. Residents of Annapolis Royal have the option of walking the French Basin Trail. With the signage, they can start to identify ducks and other species.

If you live near Bridgetown, hike up to the Communications Tower above Valley View Park. Last week, at the top, we discovered a sign to Chalet. We followed it through the woods, eventually returning to the Mountain Road, where we had parked the car. Some interpretative signage would certainly enhance the experience.

Rural aging really amounts to ‘aging in place’. Whether living in Halifax or Paradise, there exists many opportunities to find those ‘lost words’, at the same time as discovering a new vocabulary. Just one example, check out Ruth Holmes Whitehead’s The Old Man Told Us: excerpts from Micmac history. 1500-1950. Learn more about eel weirs.

Acknowledgements

Edward found the Policy Wonks web site. Heather found the Chalet sign above Valley View park.

References

Policy Wonks web site

RTO link to seminars.

Ruth Holmes Whitehead, 1991, The Old Man Told Us: Excerpts from Micmac History, 1500-1950. Nimbus Publishing (link is to the new edition)