If a landscape were ever painted with the colors of the wind it would be that which stretches out before me perched, as I am, on my front porch in Canada.
What I see is a vast swath of the ocean. Beyond that rise the cliffs of Nova Scotia, reddish-brown and rocky where they meet the water, transforming to green and blue where the line of evergreens begins.
Although I’m many hundreds of feet away from the water, on quiet days I can hear the waves lapping against the shore. On all days I can hear the wind as it swirls over the mountains behind me, past my small cottage and down into the bay below.
I’ve spent many hours contemplating this beauty since I arrived here at my heavenly hide-away in New Brunswick weeks ago.
As some of you know, it’s my first summer experiencing what has been my dream since I purchased a cottage here in Alma, New Brunswick, 12 years ago. The thought was always to create a nest for both vacations and then retirement but, with the stresses and pressures of the everyday world, I was never able to capture more than a couple of weeks a year.
This summer is the first of what I hope to be many I’ll be able to spend here. Thanks to benevolent bosses who let me work from afar, I’ve been able to carve out a short six-week stay this summer.
It marks the first time I’ve actually stayed in my cottage for any amount of time. And I find that I spend an inordinate amount of time perched either in the bay windows in front of the house or on the porch, basking in the magnificence.
It’s a sight of which I will never tire.
The palette of the water – more accurately the Bay of Fundy – varies according to what’s above and below. And its constantly changing variants of greens, blues, grays and browns form a different rendering each time I look.
The Bay, which can lay claim to the highest tides in the world, exposes its rocky bottom every 12 hours as the water flows swiftly out of what’s essentially a giant funnel, opening near the coast of Maine. When it rectifies itself by reversing the tidal action the flow is often so swift and powerful that the streams entering the Bay change directions.
The depth of the ocean at any one time paints the water surface with various hues as the ocean floor moves nearer or farther from the Bay’s surface – a gold-tinged tan at its shallowest to darkest blue at the points of greatest depth.
High above the water’s surface, clouds also vary the water’s shade as they’re blown swiftly across the Bay. Giant dark shadows mirror the cloud’s passage, creating even more complex patterns on the water.
The horizon is etched by the cliffs and gentle hills of Nova Scotia. Only nine miles across the Bay as the crow flies, Nova Scotia is seldom seen from here as much more than dark outlines of blue hills, varying in hue according to their distance.
But occasionally when either the day is very clear or the sunset dazzling, the sandstone cliffs of this nearby province seem to glow with reflected light.
More often than not, the almost ever-present fog contributes to the mystery and drama of the Bay. Although some visitors have found its presence gloomy, I find it enthralling.
Like a stealthy spirit, it slides around the corners of the land masses only to disappear at the hint of a breeze’s sudden intrusion. It flows over the Bay and the land, ever moving, muting the colors as it slips past. A sudden gust can blow it completely away, only to have it creep quietly back as the breeze dies.
Sometimes it will lie like a blanket in a narrow band across the entire Bay, obscuring the water and low cliffs of Nova Scotia, leaving only the dark blue hills poking out above.
At other times it fills the entire Bay, obliterating all, billowing into and flowing out of my particular harbor almost like the 50-foot tides that rule the water.
I’ve seen the fog flowing like a giant waterfall over Owl’s Head, a massive rocky outcropping that juts to my left as I sit on my porch. The wisps and tendrils of gray vapor pouring into the Bay below.
I’ve seen its misty coils flowing around me as the fog settles low. I’ve even felt the dampness of its body as it streams by.
It is alive. It is haunting. And it is omnipresent.
Sit here for a half hour and you’ll see the colors of the day change as wind, tides and fog invariably paint new portraits for the patient watcher.
So, welcome to my summer world.
There’s nowhere else quite like it.