If it’s going to rain, it’s good to be at home

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I’m not sure how we managed it, but the best weather of our trip was when we were camping. I don’t know if my morale would have held up if I’d had to hike out (and up) in the rain, and the drive from Cape Breton back to the Annapolis Valley (about 6 hours) would definitely have been wasted on bad weather. It’s just as well, then, that it didn’t rain until next day, our first full day at home.

Rain in Nova Scotia is not like rain in Toronto. In Toronto, we rarely get a full day of consistently torrential rain; in Nova Scotia, a rainy day is a very rainy day. Very rainy. Luckily, we were coming off several days of outside activity, so an indoor day wasn’t entirely unwelcome. I blogged, L caught up on some work, and then I taught my sister to knit.

Would you just look at that concentration?

Her birthday was last month, and I told her that, as a present, I’d give her a knitting lesson. She came by the shop a few weeks ago and picked out her wool (she went with Berocco Ultra Alpaca in a pea green sort of colour, which was a good beginner’s choice, I think) and since we were going to be visiting our parents at the same time, we decided that would be a good time to start. I packed needles, she packed wool, and on Wednesday, the lesson began. I taught her the cable cast-on, and then knitting and purling, so she can make a nice stockinette scarf. I thought about just teaching her to knit a garter stitch scarf, but that gets boring after a while and you may as well learn both stitches from the get-go.

Jenny does not like purling, but otherwise was doing well. I had to rip out a few sections for her (at her request, I should add) because of holes and, twice, because she’d reversed the stockinette, but by Sunday she had a pretty good hang of it. She’s going to come visit to learn how to cast off.

After the first rainy day, the weather improved a little. It was still overcast and wet, but not full-on raining, so we decided to head out for the afternoon. We went wine tasting. The area where I grew up has steadily become wine country (there are six wineries within 20 minutes of my parents’ house) and the wines are fantastic. We set out to visit all of them, but because the tastings are so generous and plentiful, we had to stop after four.

While I do not know what kind of grape this is (it’s about a month from harvest, though), I can tell you it was at the Sainte-Famille winery.

It was a grey day, but the view from Muir Murray (that’s Blomidon on the horizon) is always gorgeous.

We visited (and tasted at) Sainte-Famille, Muir Murray, and Gaspereau Vineyards, and also walked around the Domaine de Grand Pre winery, but decided we needed a breather. We still bought six bottles of wine: two bottles of maple wine (did you know you could ferment maple syrup? Neither did I), a maple port, a Muscat, a Baco Noir, and a Marechal Foch. Nova Scotia is acclaimed for its white wines, but I find it hard to pass up its reds. (My dad, deciding that wasn’t enough, then bought us a seventh bottle at the Wolfville Farmers’ Market on Saturday – Blomidon Estate Winery‘s Tidal Bay (a white), which we tasted at the market and agreed was very good. The winery is just down the street from my parents’ and because we both already know and enjoy their wine, we didn’t stop in.)

I think visiting twice each time I’m home is totally reasonably and normal behaviour.

Our little wine tour brought us past Gaspereau Valley Fibres, one of my most favourite yarn shops. Yes, we stopped in. It was there knitting day, so the shop was filled with happy knitters. Honestly, between that and all the new fibre, I was so overwhelmed I didn’t buy anything. Then, of course, I kicked myself all the way home. We went back the next day. (I’ll tell you about that on Wednesday).

We had five days at home, and while I would have been quite content to knit and read and hang out, L wanted to be out doing stuff (and rightly so – he didn’t grow up there). On Friday we went into Halifax for the afternoon with Jenny. Our third sister Connie (the middle) was working, so we walked around Point Pleasant Park and then met up with some friends for coffee before having to scoot home where my parents were hoping to have dinner in the garden.

It’s kind of amazing to think that this park juts out into the water beside the Halifax seaport and is still so lovely and wild-seeming.

Unfortunately, before we made it back, it was rainy again. We thought we could tough it out, but then it started pouring, so we gave in. This is what it would have looked like though, if the weather had behaved.

My parents (especially my dad) do gardening on a different scale than most people. This is the eating shelter in the walled garden in the meadow. Yeah, I know.

On Saturday, we went to the market (as I mentioned) for breakfast and then went hiking. My dad, Jenny, and L went off to Cape Split (which is a gorgeous hike) and my mum and I walked the dikes instead (in this context, dikes are the earthen walls built to keep the ocean out of the plains where the farmers have their fields, just in case you were wondering), which is a very nice long walk.

Another view of Blomidon, this time including mud flats! The tides in the Bay of Fundy (and the Minas Basin) are the highest in the world, and the water level rises and falls 50 vertical feet twice a day. Thus, when the tide is out, there are kilometres of mud flats, and when it’s in, everything is covered.

The tide was out, unfortunately, but we still saw two bald eagles and soaked in some sunshine. We all managed to get home at more or less the same time, and then L and I headed back into Halifax for dinner and a birthday party at the Keith’s Brewery.

Walking around the “garden” (my parents have 5 acres) is a singular pleasure, and often the cats will trot along with you. Here they are (Cosma on the left, Samya on the right) doing a sort of synchronized rolling routine in the bocci court. It was adorable.

In addition to the walled garden, the traditional walk also includes the ponds, which are in the ravine behind the house. It’s a pretty nice place to visit.

Sunday was lovely and sunny, so naturally we spent that day packing. Considering how full our bags were in the first place (hiking + camping + regular visiting = a lot of gear), I think we did quite well to fit seven bottles of wine into our packs. My yarn purchases required an extra bag, but even that seemed reasonable. We loaded up the car and drove back into Halifax to visit with Connie and then head to the airport to fly back to Toronto. I can hardly believe I have to go back to work today, but I guess that’s the sign of a good vacation.

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