For someone who lived through the Oil Crisis in the 70s it’s embarrassing to have driven to the South Shore three times this week. But it’s summertime and the destinations were classic: the farm, the shore and the lake. Let’s see what we can squeeze out of these adventures.
The farm was the people’s farm – Ross Farm Museum. The occasion was the official sod turning for a long anticipated Learning Centre. Our colleagues on the farm really know how to do this sort of event and their team of oxen was ready to pull a plow and turn some sod with politicians and board chair sharing control.
On a farm visit we always learn things about country life past and present – we were very excited to hear they had (after some difficulty) got seed for Tancook Island cabbage and are growing plants this year and will produce more seed. Tancook was famous for its sauerkraut but cabbages are no longer grown on the island and sauerkraut is not made there commercially. Seed for the island variety of cabbage was in danger of being lost.
Ross Farm has also been important in maintaining heritage breeds of animals. The pigs are a particular favourite of mine. And barn cats are always plentiful.
Around the countryside I’ve noticed that this is the moment to start building your wood pile for next winter. Rosebank Cottage’s round design is particularly architectural .
In the shop you can find products made on the farm and locally. What caught my attention were tool handles, knit socks, ox bells and barrels. A 100 years ago, in this district, tens of thousands of barrels were made to ship apples , mostly to Britain.
A Ross Farm vacation visit would be good anytime but if you are event oriented consider the Annual Hand Mowing Competition on August 23. When we went a couple of years ago the old and young were scything, flailing and building hay stacks and men in plaid cooked a whole pig.
The visit to the shore was really in the picnic park across the road from the beach at Bayswater on the Aspotogan Peninsula. It was a simple Slow Food event with chef Michael Howell cooking mussels and the first corn of the season.
Someone had brought their summer car another couple came on motor cycles. It all felt classic summer.
It’s been a few years since we’ve driven that road and I’d forgotten the beauty of the small coves. I was pleased to see that folks still dry nets on the shoulders of the road. I’d lost track of this traditional practice ( rock weed and Irish moss also used to dry on road shoulders in SW Nova).
Chef Howell demonstrated another Nova Scotian tradition when he showed us the chanterelles he had just picked but was very vague about where he found them.
And on Sunday we went to a lake inland from Blockhouse for a birthday party. I don’t have a lot of lake experience but I could appreciate the charm of this location. It was also pleasant to meet new folks and catch up with friends we rarely see.
A detail that appealed to me: along with some practical Chinet paper plates a stack of wonderful old ironstone plates had been brought down to the shore for us to eat off. And a dramatic earthenware pan, that is reproduced in Sherbrooke Village, held Goldfish crackers (I had to eat many to expose the decoration).
So embrace the summer: visit traditional locations for summer activities; eat our food when it’s the freshest; spend time with people old and new; be mindful of the interesting things that surround you – where ever you are.
If you want an extraordinary summer experience consider the Movable Feast at Tangled Garden. We went last year and it was magic (tasty magic).