Amanda Cashin Photography: Blog http://amandacashinphotography.zenfolio.com/blog en-us (C) Amanda Cashin Photography cashin.amanda@yahoo.ca (Amanda Cashin Photography) Thu, 30 Jun 2016 14:14:00 GMT Thu, 30 Jun 2016 14:14:00 GMT http://amandacashinphotography.zenfolio.com/img/s1/v56/u746348330-o918870022-50.jpg Amanda Cashin Photography: Blog http://amandacashinphotography.zenfolio.com/blog 80 120 Promote and Encourage http://amandacashinphotography.zenfolio.com/blog/2016/6/promote-and-encourage If you love an artist’s work, or a photographer inspires you – help promote and encourage that person.  Please don’t steal from them. Recently, I discovered that one of my images is being used by other people.  Surely many more of my images are being used without my permission, I am just unaware of it. That is the price I pay I guess, to promote my work publicly.  How frustrating. How violating!
 

I am so pleased to share images of Nova Scotia with anyone who is interested or inspired by them.  My mission after all is to share “Nova Scotia’s beauty, nature and culture” and I do so because I love this Province and because I want others to see what I see; what I love.  I am happy to have people share my images as well. Share them as a link to my site, or as a share from my social media sites. If the share inspires someone to visit a part of Nova Scotia they haven’t seen before, or if the share inspires someone to see things in a different way – I am so thrilled.  But I am not happy when people share my images as their own. This includes using my (or someone else’s) images as a profile photo on social media without credit to the artist, or painting one of my images without my knowledge or permission.  That is not okay.
 

I’ve invested financially in a good quality camera.  I spend quite a lot of time, and quite a bit of money on gas, to explore the Province and capture my images.  I am invested in capturing the images that I share.  The images I share are my original photos.  The image files – they belong to me.  The views I capture, those are for everyone– but the files are mine.   And if I capture a view that others overlook and wouldn’t think to capture themselves – well – that view is mine too. It is my personal, unique take on the world.  I am happy to share these views, but again, the files – they belong to me.
 

When I find out that others use them as their own – I get not only angry – but really quite sad and very discouraged.

So, I ask you – please be considerate when using any photos that you didn’t capture yourself.  If you love the image, contact the photographer, painter, or designer and let them know. It will make their day. Ask permission to share their work. Help promote them as they struggle to share their passion.  But please, don’t steal from them.
 

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cashin.amanda@yahoo.ca (Amanda Cashin Photography) http://amandacashinphotography.zenfolio.com/blog/2016/6/promote-and-encourage Thu, 30 Jun 2016 14:13:30 GMT
I Love Real Trees http://amandacashinphotography.zenfolio.com/blog/2014/11/i-love-real-trees If I even think about a Balsam Fir I can almost smell it. Of all the smells in nature, isn’t it just about one of the best ones?  Especially during the holidays! I love my real Christmas tree. I love everything about it, from selecting it at the tree lot to how it smells once it is set up in my house. I even find its falling needles slightly endearing and love how they linger to remind me of relaxing over the holidays and enjoying the glow of twinkling lights on balsam fir branches.

But, there are many, many more reasons why I choose to have a real tree at Christmas, and am sad when I see fake trees in a shop, a house, or a business. 

  • I love nature, and I love tradition.  I remember heading out with my parents when I was young, in search of a Christmas tree.  My father with his axe in hand would search for what he considered the perfect tree. In my small rural community I don’t remember there being tree lots – we would just head out into the forest. I will always remember the fresh air, the smell of the forest, and the time with my dad.  It is experiences like this that helped foster my love and appreciation of nature and being outdoors.

What message are we sending to children when we head to a store to buy a tree in a box? When we take them indoors, to by a plastic tree – in a box!?  Surely not an appreciation of nature and authenticity.

  • I want to support Nova Scotia’s economy. Purchasing a real tree does just that. The Christmas Tree industry in Nova Scotia started back in the early 1920s, when a few local men were looking for a way to create an income for their families.  Today, more than 1,100 Nova Scotia families depend on the Christmas tree industry for all or part of their income.  The Christmas tree industry generates approximately $52M toward the Nova Scotia economy annually, and if the Christmas tree industry in Nova Scotia ceased to exist, so too would the equivalent of as many as 800 full time jobs. Buying a real Christmas tree really brings a whole new meaning to “support local”.

 

  • I care about the environment, and I care about my health.  Real Christmas trees promote both of those things.

 

The Christmas Tree industry in Nova Scotia is completely sustainable. Trees are renewable, reusable and biodegradable.  A fake tree, while reusable from year to year, at some point will end up in a landfill, and will remain there.  A real tree can be recycled, and can even be reused in innovative ways (wildlife rehabs such as Hope For Wildlife and The Cobequid Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre will gladly accept donations of used trees after the holidays for use in their animal enclosures).

Tree farms are completely renewable. Some people don’t want to cut down a tree. I can appreciate that – but Christmas trees are in no way associated with deforestation. The trees are grown specifically to be cut down on land designated for farming them.  Trees are either replanted or in most cases, grow again on their own naturally from the previous tree’s seeds.  As the old trees are cut down tiny new ones are eagerly waiting to see the sun and are ready to grow in their place.

Think of it this way - cutting down a Christmas tree in a tree farm is the same as harvesting lettuce. People are eager to head to the local farmers market to support local when they purchase their veggies. It’s the same thing. When you harvest lettuce, as you harvest a tree, more is waiting to grow.

We all know that trees produce oxygen. But did you know that every acre of Christmas trees produces enough daily oxygen for 18 people. There are roughly 30,000 acres of Christmas trees in production in Nova Scotia, which means enough oxygen for approximately 540,000 people daily.

Fake Christmas trees are made with Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) which is a petroleum derived plastic. Carcinogens including dioxin, ethylene dichloride and vinyl chloride are generated in the production of PVC.  Quite the opposite from oxygen wouldn’t you say? All of those chemicals mentioned have been linked to various cancers. 

I’m always surprised when people think that a fake tree is safer than a real tree. First of all – none of those chemicals are safe in any way. If you are concerned about safety when it comes to your real Christmas tree check out this link for some great tips.

Something else to consider is, if you buy a fake tree – how far do you suppose it has travelled? Nova Scotia is the largest producer of Balsam Fir Christmas trees in the world. If you purchase a real tree in Nova Scotia it won’t have travelled more than a couple hundred kilometers.

For me personally, a few needles to sweep up on the floor once in a while is a small price to pay for a connection to nature, my health and the health of my province’s economy, and of the planet.  And, of course a small price to pay for one of the most wonderful, unique, and nostalgic smells we should feel lucky to be able to experience.

I’d love to hear from you in the comments below – what is your favorite thing about your real Christmas tree?

Stats and info in this post are courtesy of:

Christmas Tree Council of Nova Scotia

CBC Land and Sea (watch their informative episode on Nova Scotia Christmas Trees here.

And, Earth Talk: The Environmental Magazine

 

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cashin.amanda@yahoo.ca (Amanda Cashin Photography) http://amandacashinphotography.zenfolio.com/blog/2014/11/i-love-real-trees Fri, 21 Nov 2014 12:13:39 GMT
Welcome To The Neighborhood http://amandacashinphotography.zenfolio.com/blog/2014/10/welcome-to-the-neighborhood The gravel path is lined with sand dunes – bumps of sand covered in tall skinny grass. I am comforted to know the ocean is just on the other side of the dunes. I can’t see it but I can surely hear it.  At times I hear a thud like that of a bass drum as a wave crashes on the rocks.   After an hour of walking I meet only one other person and on my way back the sun sets on the horizon before me.  I can see silhouettes of surfers making their way on the boardwalk.  There is a slight cool breeze and through the sun’s rays I see the salt spray being pushed by the wind and by the force of the surf, up over the dunes.  This is my neighborhood. Welcome.

In the past few weeks I have heard the words “Welcome to the neighborhood” more times than I ever heard them in the 17 years I lived in an apartment in the city.  I saw people every time I stepped out of my apartment door and only rarely were words exchanged.  If they were they were a brief hello in the hall or a “have a good day” as someone stepped off the elevator.  I didn’t know the people that lived across the hall or beside me. The change over of neighbors was so rapid, there wasn't always a chance to get to know one another.  I often thought of my neighbors as an inconvenience actually, wondering when they might move on to the next apartment building so I wouldn’t hear their balcony conversations. There just never seemed to be enough space between us.  In rural Nova Scotia though, space is not a luxury item. There is space for me, my neighbors, and the nature that surround us all. 

In the 17 years I lived in close quarters with my neighbors in the city, I felt such a sense of things being temporary, knowing that my apartment neighbors would uproot at any time.  Now, I feel a sense of permanency. I have a desire to grow deep roots in my new community, and grow old along the shore.  

I was meant to live not only rurally, but specifically, in a quaint rural community by the sea. I am being reminded on a daily basis now just how much the salt water is part of my make-up - part of who I am at my core. So too is rural life. I grew up rurally and I understand rural living. I appreciate the culture of a small community.  I am even enjoying the commute to work in the city, and I consider nothing about rural life to be an inconvenience.  The pay-off is too high.

In the past I felt out of sorts in the city – like there wasn’t a place for me.  I wanted to be involved in a community but always felt like the community was so much bigger than myself – and I really never found my place.  Many people live, and love living, in the city, and those people feel a part of something special – I appreciate what those people have discovered – but the city life is not for me.

As I settle into my new neighborhood I am eager to explore it, and to get involved in it.  I can’t wait to volunteer with the local market and community centers, and I am enjoying contributing to small locally run businesses and getting to know my neighbors.  Especially these guys……

 

As I end this post I am eager to head out to continue to explore my new neighborhood.  The sea is calling me, and it is welcoming me home.

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cashin.amanda@yahoo.ca (Amanda Cashin Photography) http://amandacashinphotography.zenfolio.com/blog/2014/10/welcome-to-the-neighborhood Sat, 25 Oct 2014 21:51:18 GMT
To be continued.... http://amandacashinphotography.zenfolio.com/blog/2014/8/to-be-continued I’ve been ignoring my blog. This blog that I so love writing; I’ve been neglecting it.

But, I have a good reason, and it is just temporary.

You see, I have been spending time roaming through the aisles of Home Hardware, Home Depot and Kent more often than I have been strolling through a nature trail or exploring Nova Scotia's many side roads.  I have been planning the purchase of items I would have never considered before.  I have been planning paint colors and wandering around fabric stores searching for the right fabric for new roman blinds.  And, I have been searching for furniture and decor treasures at antique shops and yard sales.  With all the finer details, like remembering to change my address with CRA and at the DMV, I’ve been a bit distracted. Things have been completely different in my world lately.

I haven’t been able to concentrate on my beloved blog or photography. I am someone who likes to have things in order. I live by the rule of “a place for everything and everything in its place”.  Some people need a little chaos to be creative.  I need clutter and chaos free spaces to think and sort out ideas in my head.  So, with most of my belongings in boxes, many of which have mystery contents at this point, I am having trouble concentrating.  For this reason, I haven’t been writing or taking many photos.

But – this will all change soon.  The day when I will be completely settled into my new home, with everything in its place, is just around the corner.  And, when that day comes I will be hitting the trails again, and I’ll be back to exploring the nooks and crannies of this Province which I love with all my  heart.  I'll be sharing stories of Nova Scotia's culture and its beauty again very soon.

Please stay tuned.

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cashin.amanda@yahoo.ca (Amanda Cashin Photography) http://amandacashinphotography.zenfolio.com/blog/2014/8/to-be-continued Sun, 03 Aug 2014 19:01:38 GMT
Ready, Set, Goals http://amandacashinphotography.zenfolio.com/blog/2014/6/ready-set-goals Over the last several weeks I have enjoyed watching the trees and the forest floors sprout new life. Buds turning into new leaves are popping up all over Nova Scotia.  And tiny white blooms that will soon be fresh wild strawberries are in abundance on some of my favorite trails.

As I have been enjoying the change in landscape from dry, dead fields recently exposed by melted snow, to a lush green horizon, I have been thinking about the changes these fields represent. I have been thinking about goals and working toward positive change.  The blooms of spring are a beautiful reminder that setting goals leaves us in a state of sweet anticipation, with something delightful to look forward to.  I certainly am looking forward to returning to the patches of strawberry flowers I have discovered, to taste the sweet fruit that will soon replace the blooms.

Over the last several months some of my own personal goals have slowly been becoming a reality – and the anticipation has been as sweet, and delightful as the taste of a wild strawberry.

You see, I want to be a home owner.  I have lived in an apartment for far too long, sharing food smells in the hall, overhearing conversations on balconies, inhaling cigarette smoke that I don’t want anywhere near my precious lungs.  I have had a headache from my neighbor’s chemical laden dryer sheets for long enough.

I want to shovel my driveway and prune my shrubs.  I want to haul my compost bin to the curb and hoard a little stash of money in case my water tank needs to be replaced. I want to step back and look at my house with the pride that comes with the hard work it takes to make it a home.

So, I set some hefty goals this past year.  My partner and I researched to the penny what it would cost to live in a house rather than our apartment and we saved that amount of money each month until we had a down payment and full closing costs.

The key to reaching our goals has been setting goals smartly.  S.M.A.R.T goals were first introduced in 1981 by George Doran, Arthur Miller and James Cunningham. Goals need to be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Results-focused, and Time-Bound.

In setting my goal of home ownership, my goal was specific. The end result of my goal would be to own a home on the outskirts of the city. Leading up to the very end result, the amount of money we would need to save was also very specific.

My goal was measurable.  I determined how much my down payment would need to be, how much closing costs would be, and I saved until I had this amount.  I measured how much I needed to save, and how long it would take to save it.

My goal was achievable.  I worked out my budget and knew that I could comfortably save the amount of money I would need.  It was realistic to save that amount, and because I was saving the additional amount needed to live in a house rather than an apartment, I knew that the end goal of paying for a home, and all the costs associated, was realistic and attainable.

My goal has certainly been results-focused. I am not only excited about owning a home but owning property where I can nurture nature with flowers that attract bees, and with a bat house (on my own tree!) to attract and protect bats – the result of my goal will be a place where I can better connect with nature, and myself. 

Finally, my goal is time-bound. It was easy to work out how much and how long it would take to save what we needed, and to know when we had accomplished our goal.  When we saved enough we began house hunting. 

The entire time I have been saving I have had a clear vision of what I want to accomplish.  I want to hang my clothes on a clothesline in my back yard. I want to plant a vegetable garden and clip my own lettuce for the salad I’ll pack in my lunch.  I want to feed the birds and keep track of the different species that visit my feeders. I want to start a new blog where I write about getting back to my roots in a more rural community. I want to share the progress of my garden as I learn to grow tomatoes, beans, carrots, peas and lettuce. If I am successful and have a good crop, I want to share my garden’s harvest with friends and neighbors. My vision is clear, and that has been a key factor in obtaining my goal.

Now, the packing begins as I wait for closing day. The anticipation will continue to be very sweet.

 

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cashin.amanda@yahoo.ca (Amanda Cashin Photography) http://amandacashinphotography.zenfolio.com/blog/2014/6/ready-set-goals Mon, 02 Jun 2014 00:03:46 GMT
Chipped China and Cups of Tea http://amandacashinphotography.zenfolio.com/blog/2014/3/care-for-a-cup-of-tea

I bought a new teacup for my small collection when I last visited the Earltown General Store.  When I asked to see the small yellow cup in the showcase the store owner was quick to let me know there was a chip in it. “Oh”, I said, “well... I’ll take a look anyway”.  I almost didn’t buy it. In fact, I left the store, went for a 6 km hike, and then still thinking about the tiny cup, I returned to purchase it. I considered during my hike all of the chips I carry with me. And, I considered how over the last year I have thought differently about perfection, and what perfection really means. This little cup is to be my reminder that perfection is over rated.

This post though, is not about perfection.  It is about tea.  It is about the steaming hot liquid that will warm my hands in my new imperfect cup, the conversations that will warm my heart as I sip it, and what inspires me to have a teacup collection in the first place.

In rural Nova Scotia especially, it would be a rarity to enter someone’s home and not be offered a cup of tea – and a tasty treat to go along with it. In urban centres people tend to meet for coffee at quaint coffee houses, where they catch up on each other’s lives, share a little gossip, or talk about future plans. The same goes for rural Nova Scotia, only the coffee is usually tea, and it is shared in a slightly more personal and private setting.

In many homes, the tea is brewed as long as you’re awake. By the end of the day you can stand a spoon upright in the teapot. By the time the last fresh teabag has been added to the pot and the steaming hot water topped up, you might wonder by the color if it is tea or coffee. Decaf tea? Green or herb tea? What’s that all about? It's straight-up orange pekoe Red Rose, King Cole or Tetley all the way in rural Nova Scotia.  For everyone. Children are sometimes even given a small amount to enjoy in dainty cups. Men and women alike enjoy a hot cup with a neighbor, or alone with a biscuit. If I had a dollar for every cup of tea I ever watched my father drink in my lifetime.....

Anyone reading this who calls Nova Scotia home will be familiar with Rita MacNeil, an iconic folk singer from Cape Breton. When Rita passed away, around this time last year, she requested that her ashes be placed in a tea pot.  I remember hearing that and thinking - how perfectly Nova Scotian, and how perfectly Rita.  I watched a documentary about Rita once, where she described meeting fans, and telling them to come see her in Cape Breton. She would tell them they should come for a cup of tea. Part of her invitation was quite genuine, another part was not entirely literal. The funny thing is, people took her up on her offer and did travel to Cape Breton to have tea with Rita, which was the inspiration for her Tea Room in Big Pond. Rita’s Tea Room is where her fans could now come “for a cup of tea”. 

I have a small teacup collection not because it is the Nova Scotian thing to do. In fact, much of the tea I enjoy is from a large ceramic mug – so I can have more at one time, and so conversations with friends last longer between refills.  But tea, whether in a sturdy mug or delicate cup, is certainly a part of Nova Scotian tradition.

My little teacup collection is in honour of the conversations enjoyed over a kitchen table with an ocean view, or over morning visits to pick up fresh farm eggs.  It is also in honour of the delicate details, and the thin bone china that was used even if it wasn’t a special occasion, and the chips that are a result.

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cashin.amanda@yahoo.ca (Amanda Cashin Photography) http://amandacashinphotography.zenfolio.com/blog/2014/3/care-for-a-cup-of-tea Mon, 31 Mar 2014 22:04:28 GMT
The List - 35 at 35 begins..... http://amandacashinphotography.zenfolio.com/blog/2014/3/the-list---35-at-35 Last month I wrote about my life/photography project "35 at 35".  If you missed it, please click here to check it out.

This project is intended to not only encourage me to do new things in my 35th year, but to see things in a different way. Shortly after my birthday, and the first day of my project, I attended the event Becoming an Outdoors Woman; an event which I had never attended before. It was a weekend of firsts, and a great way to kick off my project. 

And so, my list of 35 new things begins......

1) I attended the most wonderful outdoor learning event, with a lovely group of women in Cape Breton. I might normally shy away from a weekend away with strangers, let alone a group of only women - but I was open to the idea, and excited to spend time learning outdoors.  And learning I did - about being prepared to be outdoors in the winter, winter birds, nature in winter, and even a little about hunting. And I learned with a group of women with whom I felt immediately connected. 

2) The first thing I did at the event was to snowshoe.  This was a first for me, was a ton of fun - and hurt like hell. My poor hips! I learned that I need to either remember to stretch first, or get out and do this more often! 

3) That snowshoe hike took place in the middle of the night in pitch black dark under a sky full of twinkling stars.  I had never had the guts to hike after dark in the forest before, let alone snow shoe on un-sure footing. What an exhilarating experience.

4) Growing up, all of my siblings had moved out by the time I was 5 and I never experienced sharing a bunk bed before. That is , until the first night of BOW at the Gaelic College. It is funny when you think about the simple things that can be a first, even at the age of 35. The moral of my learning as far as bunk beds go.... don't forget to pee before going to bed if you sleep on the top bunk. 

And 5) During the workshop that ended my wonderful weekend in Cape Breton, entitled Connecting with Nature in Winter, I layed under a tree in the snow. While there, I took notice of the pattern in the palm of my hand that matched the skeleton branches of the tree above, and I truly felt connected to the tree I chose for this activity.  I feel thankful that this wonderful event was the kick off to my 35 new things - and is inspiration for some of the items you will see on this list in the coming year.  The photo on the right is the one I snapped of the sky while laying under "my" tree.  It represents my openness to attending this event, and the connection to nature I experienced during my attendance. Please take a minute to read about the rest of the details of my weekend HERE.

6) Stay tuned.....

 

 

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cashin.amanda@yahoo.ca (Amanda Cashin Photography) http://amandacashinphotography.zenfolio.com/blog/2014/3/the-list---35-at-35 Wed, 05 Mar 2014 00:28:40 GMT
35 at 35 http://amandacashinphotography.zenfolio.com/blog/2014/2/35-at-35 On February 14th I will turn 35. It’s true; I double checked my birth certificate and did the math. The clerks at the gas station who consistently ask for ID when I buy lottery tickets are slowly becoming more and more appealing. While I am in slight disbelief, I am also excited to move into a new year with a little life experience, lots of learning, and many mistakes behind me.

In honour of my 35th year, I have decided to celebrate with a life/photography project. This year, I will do 35 new things, and I will use a photo to showcase each of them.  I am calling my project 35 at 35.

My 35 new things will be a blend of planned goals, and happy surprises. The planned goals will be a surprise to readers as they happen, but below is a sneak peek at what I have in mind (big and small goals included):

  • Hang a birdfeeder on my very own tree (my goal is to own property, and my very own tree!)
  • Get better connected with the source of my food. This might play out by me milking a cow or gathering eggs (Open Farm Day, here I come!)
  • Volunteer with a new charity, such as CPAWS

The happy surprises will be delightful new things that I experience over the year. To achieve this, I will need to approach the year with openness to new adventures, and mindfulness of both old and new experiences.  For example, the photo in this post is of a delightful pink alder branch.

Over the last 35 years I likely walked past many of these, but last month when I snapped the photo, it was the first time I ever “saw” a pretty pink alder branch. I've seen many similar red or brown branches, but never pink. I continue to be amazed, delighted, and ultimately rejuvenated by the wonderful things we see around us when we choose to be mindful of our surroundings.

Some of the happy surprises that I secretly hope for over the next year are things like; seeing a moose in the wild (fingers crossed!) or finding a bird’s nest with eggs or baby birds inside.

As I write this, thirty-five new things feels a bit daunting, and perhaps even vague.  But I can’t wait to see what happens. The key to success in completing this project will be openness, mindfulness, and of course, following through with goals.

Beginning February 14 I will share my 35 experiences on this post as they occur, so be sure to check back regularly over the next 365 days!

Is there anything you would include on a list if you participated in this project? Is there anything you would recommend I should consider as a local experience/adventure/goal?

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cashin.amanda@yahoo.ca (Amanda Cashin Photography) http://amandacashinphotography.zenfolio.com/blog/2014/2/35-at-35 Sun, 02 Feb 2014 12:59:36 GMT
Christmas and The Nature-Loving Introvert http://amandacashinphotography.zenfolio.com/blog/2013/12/chirstmas-and-the-nature-loving-introvert

I made it through another Christmas. Whew....  bring on January!

While Christmas is a favorite time of year for many, it is not on the top of my list.  It just doesn’t really fit with my personality.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed my Nova Scotian grown Christmas tree with its decade old ornaments, balsam fir scent, and glow of pretty multi-colored lights.  I also wrote and received Christmas cards with pure joy.  But this year, I approached Christmas differently than in past years.

This post contains photos of how I spent Christmas; leading up to, during, and following December 25.  Instead of shopping, wrapping and socializing – I hiked with my partner Al. I soaked up as much nature and winter weather as I could fit into the 4 days we had off work together. We enjoyed three beautiful hikes, with just the birds and the trees. And each other.

You see, Christmas doesn’t really fit with my extreme introverted, minimalist, routine-driven personality. And it doesn’t really fit into my respect for and passion about nature.

I chose to have Christmas the way I wanted to have it this year, which was the bare minimum required. I received a few strange looks when I told people I didn’t want gifts.  But honestly, ever since I watched the Story of Stuff, I’ve felt differently about gifts.  So I decided that it didn’t matter what anyone else thought, and aside from a couple of items, I didn’t buy or receive gifts.

You can watch the short video The Story of Stuff here if you are interested. I encourage you to do so; it is a video that really changed the way I think about things. 

I told people I didn’t plan to visit or have any more people around me during Christmas than my partner Al. Some of those people invited me to their home.  Join me they’d say, I’ll have a house full of people and it will be wonderful.  Those people are extroverts who can’t possibly understand what a nightmare that would be. (Please, let there be one other introvert reading this who understands what kind of nightmare a room full of people making small talk is!)

I did enjoy a nice meal at my in-laws on Christmas Day – after an invigorating hike through the snow. But over the course of the holidays I had just one excessive meal and very little candy or cookies.  I have worked hard to keep myself and my partner healthy this past year and I am so happy to have avoided a spike in blood sugar levels, or the need for stretchy pants on Boxing Day.

There were other benefits to the way I spent Christmas this year.  This post is full of photos of the wonderful nature I enjoyed outdoors over the holidays. They are the largest benefit of all.  Others include:  a healthy bank account and no additional trash in the bin on Christmas morning from wrapping paper, plastic packaging, or dreadful curly ribbon.

For those reading this whose favorite time of year is Christmas; who love more than anything a house full of family members and friends; who enjoy all the treats that are a luxury this time of year; and for those who delight in buying and receiving gifts, I honestly and sincerely hope that your holidays were everything you wanted them to be. We all deserve to enjoy the things that make us most happy.  My holidays were the way I wanted them to be, which is the exact opposite of what I just described, and Christmas 2013 was one of my best holidays yet.

 

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cashin.amanda@yahoo.ca (Amanda Cashin Photography) http://amandacashinphotography.zenfolio.com/blog/2013/12/chirstmas-and-the-nature-loving-introvert Sun, 29 Dec 2013 23:49:29 GMT
Waiting for Winter http://amandacashinphotography.zenfolio.com/blog/2013/12/waiting-for-winter Winter is upon us. I am one of the few people who is waiting with anxious, giddy excitement for it to arrive. I can’t wait to bundle up in my warm winter layers. I look forward to the blanket of white that will cover the forests and my favorite hiking trails.  I look forward also to the sound of a loud crunch as my hikers break through the first layer of crusty snow, revealing fluffy white bliss beneath the surface.

But, for now I wait.  I wait in the transition between the beauty of bright red and orange leaves, and the blinding white blanket that is soon to arrive.  Now, as those beautiful leaves have fallen to the ground and the fields have turned a pale yellow hue, I wait. The flurries that stay around for just a few hours, only to be washed away by cold rain and damp fog, are nothing more than a tease.

During the spring, summer and fall months in Nova Scotia there is beauty at every turn. During those months, rainbows of brightly colored boats are docked at wharves along coastal villages. Pink and purple lupins line roadsides all over the province. Fields are a rich shade of green, and Adirondack chairs in brilliant pops of color sit on docks and decks at every turn.  The beauty at those times of year is often too much to take in.

During the time of year when autumn is turning into winter, the beauty in Nova Scotia is a bit more reserved.

During a drive toward the Annapolis Valley a couple of weeks ago I found myself looking for any hint of beauty I could find.  For me, this wasn't terribly difficult.  I think the skeleton trees that line the highway are stunning. The exposed branches, with all their twists and gnarly turns, reveal the growth that has taken place to form the shape of a tree. The birds that would normally be camouflaged in the leaves are now in plain view.

I still easily see beauty this time of year, even as I wait for fluffy white flakes to fall and cover the fields, branches and trails. The photos I am sharing in this post are a few examples of the beauty I have recently seen during the transition from fall to winter. Even a recent chilly beach stroll turned up beautiful stones and patterns in rocks.  The beauty is there, we just need to take the time to explore it.  Soak it up while you can – it will all soon be covered in a blanket of white.

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cashin.amanda@yahoo.ca (Amanda Cashin Photography) http://amandacashinphotography.zenfolio.com/blog/2013/12/waiting-for-winter Sun, 01 Dec 2013 04:00:00 GMT
Antique Archeology http://amandacashinphotography.zenfolio.com/blog/2013/11/antique-archeology This past summer I visited a few local museums. I loved every minute of my time in each of them. This post contains a few photos from my visits. They are photos I captured because I was drawn to not only the history of the items but to their character, and resilience.

My favorite show on television is American Pickers. That may be surprising for some of you who have come to know me as a strong lover of, and advocate for Nova Scotia.  But, I can't wait to watch those boys from Iowa discover “rusty gold” on the back roads of America every Thursday night.

Why?  Mike Wolfe and Frank Fitz have an infectious respect and appreciation for history.  They take the time to learn about the people who own the treasures they find, and to learn the stories behind the items.  The business they run as pickers is called Antique Archeology. The title is more than appropriate; they make a living out of unearthing the past. Their job as pickers is to rummage through old barns, garages, falling down buildings, and attics, to find old forgotten treasures.  They make a living out of sharing the history these items represent.

I enjoy seeing how the items they discover can be repurposed and restored.  Items are saved from landfills in many cases.  And, the items they find and sell are reducing the current use of precious resources. The people who buy items such as an old trunk turned into a coffee table, or a lamp pole rewired with a modern shade, are not only reducing resources but preserving and honoring the past. Kudos to those folks!

Mike and Frank talk about how each item they find tells a story.  And each item they find does. The items they find which are often made of iron, steel, glass, wood, or porcelain do tell a story because they have lasted for many decades.  They tell a story not only of the industry that produced them, but the lives that used them. 

These days too many items are often made to last only a short time.  They are often, to my dismay, marketed as disposable. And, if not marketed as disposable, they should be, because that is essentially the case. 

I very frequently feel as though I was born in the wrong century.  Or that in a past life I lived happily among folks who were the inspiration for Lucy Maud Montgomery’s characters Marilla and Matthew Cuthburt.

My respect for and appreciation of the ways of the past stem from a few areas.  I grew up in a very rural part of Nova Scotia, where exposure to new and innovative things was sometimes limited, or delayed. Also, I had older parents; much older than any of my friends.  My friends’ grandparents in almost all cases are younger than my parents. I am 34 and if my father were alive he would be 88 this year. I am both thankful and regretful of this. Thankful mostly, for the lessons in resourcefulness and respect that were instilled in me from an early age.

Another huge influence for me is Anne of Green Gables; the spunky red-head from Prince Edward Island.  Growing up, the movie Anne of Green Gables, or the television series Road to Avonlea, seemed to play on repeat on the local television stations.  I have watched the movie and read the book Anne of Green Gables more times than I could count.  I often watch with envy of Anne, and the era in which her story was set.  I watch and appreciate the modest dresses, the hand written notes to Marilla and Matthew when she was away in college, and the respectful manner in which the characters spoke to one another.

I often find myself surrounded by people who are constantly looking to the future. Who are full of ideas bursting at the seams, ready to move onto the next idea, or the next innovation.  I on the other hand am so respectful of and inspired by the past that I sometimes wish they would slow down and look back instead of ahead.  There is so much to be learned from the past, and the people who have paved the way for our generations.  Change is good, but not in every case.    

I of course enjoy the many modern conveniences at my disposal.  I enjoy and use current technology.  But frankly, I am far more excited if I receive a hand written note in the mail than when I learn about yet another new edition of an iphone or other mobile device.  I sometimes resent the person who first created a TV diner or video game.  Personally, I think about how we would be so much healthier and happier if neither of those things had been invented. Imagine healthy meals with no preservatives on the table every night for supper, everywhere around North America, not in just a few homes here and there.  Or imagine all children being active outdoors on a regular basis. You know, the place with the warm sun and fresh air. Where the only quick movements to stimulate their brain are things like bees buzzing past, or birds flying overhead.

I am writing this on a Thursday.  In a few hours I am going to curl up on my sofa and watch Mike and Frank pick through old barns, attics, and garages full of forgotten treasures.  I will enjoy watching their passion and enthusiasm as they connect with the past, and help others do the same.

Is there something from the past that you would like to see more of today?  I bet there is.  I’d love to hear about it in the comments below. What forgotten treasures do you miss, and why?  Or, what inspires you from decades past?

 

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cashin.amanda@yahoo.ca (Amanda Cashin Photography) http://amandacashinphotography.zenfolio.com/blog/2013/11/antique-archeology Fri, 01 Nov 2013 21:29:53 GMT
Change Is Good http://amandacashinphotography.zenfolio.com/blog/2013/10/change-is-good Autumn is the time of year when change is most obvious. We see it all over Nova Scotia.  We see it of course in the landscape, when the leaves change color and fall to the ground.  And we see it in some of the fishing villages, when inlets become clear of anchored boats in anticipation of the coming winter. Change seems to be more noticeable to people this time of year, and on the minds of many.  Changes in nature though, happen year round.

While everyone seems to be talking about change this time of year, I notice it more in the spring. When change is in every nook and cranny of nature, but is less obvious. It is tucked away in nests high above, or slow and steady in the delicate formation of new leaves.

I heard a storey once about the turtle and the hen. About how a hen lays an egg and clucks to the high heavens, announcing it to any and everyone. One egg and enough noise to wake the neighbors. A turtle on the other hand, may lay a hundred or more eggs and quietly covers them and waddles away.

I’m more of a turtle in that I don’t usually like to toot my own horn. In fact, I often get embarrassed when someone decides they want to toot it for me.  For this reason, I relate more to the subtle changes of spring, more so than to the lavish changes of autumn.

But that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy watching the elaborate show that nature puts on this time of year.

It does however give a hint to how I sometimes respond to change.

In photography I am sometimes at the whim of change.  I need to be aware of the changes in light.  I need to be ahead of the changes, so as to capture the perfect lighting as the sun sinks. Or, I need to wait for light, as the sun rises over the horizon.  I hope and pray that the tiny dragonfly on the leaf before me won’t fly away, that the wind won't pick up, or that a tiny frog won't hop away.  I am either waiting or hoping things won’t change, or wishing that they will.

Change can be my friend when I am taking photos. I find I am always on the lookout for what changes have happened; perhaps as the result of the sun’s position, of nature, or of the effects of the weather.

In life though,  I tend to be a bit reluctant to change.

But, change can be good. Very good. I was reluctant to even get a computer, and didn't until 2004. Yes - 2004! And without such innovative changes I wouldn't have been able to create my photo website. I wouldn't have been able to make connections with total strangers on social media sites like Twitter, or share my photos and stories of Nova Scotia with people around the world.

This October blog post marks the one year anniversary of my photography website.  This for me has been a year of change.

Although, the saying goes... the more things change, the more they stay the same.  I really have spent this past year reconnecting with a true passion of mine.  Before my age was in the double digits I remember having an appreciation for good composition, and remember being excited when viewing a beautiful photograph.  I also enjoyed writing as far back as I can remember. I loved to put words together on paper, always loved to read, and could always write better than I could speak.

In this past year I have enjoyed connecting my passion of taking photographs, and of writing.  I have taken more photos this year than in the last 6 years combined, and when I write a post for this site, or my Beachcomber and Trailroamer blog, time stands still and I feel only joy and enthusiasm.

I have learned this year how to let some things go, so as to enable myself time to do the things I love.  Instead of needing to have my home in immaculate condition before setting a foot out the door, I now allow myself to leave a dirty dish or two in the sink, the bed unmade, or the floors unswept – so that I can spend my time in nature, taking photographs, or writing.  I recently even let two wash weeks pass before I ironed my clothes.  Trust me, this for me is a huge change, and something that I actually consider to be an accomplishment.

Once reluctant to change, I also find myself, in the last several months, craving it.  Unsure of what that really means at this very moment, I am willing to go with the flow moving forward.  And, to see where this path of photos and words takes me.

Thank you all for viewing my photos this past year, for leaving such lovely comments, and for reading along on my monthly blog posts here, and my more frequent posts on my other blog.  This site and my other blog have brought me great joy and satisfaction, but I couldn’t do it without the support and encouragement of friends and strangers :)

To thank you all I would like to welcome you to participate in my anniversary give away.  To win either an 8x10 photography print, or a package of 4 notecards, simply leave me a comment on this post telling me one thing that you have done this year to create positive change in your life. You need only include your first name if that is more comfortable for you, and any email address entered on my site is not made public. Be sure to include your email address so I can contact you if you win!  Contest closes October 15 and is open to friends, family, and kind strangers. Winner will be selected by random draw.  I look forward to reading your change stories!

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cashin.amanda@yahoo.ca (Amanda Cashin Photography) http://amandacashinphotography.zenfolio.com/blog/2013/10/change-is-good Tue, 01 Oct 2013 11:09:15 GMT
Community Garden http://amandacashinphotography.zenfolio.com/blog/2013/9/community-garden It's harvest time. Farmers and gardeners across Nova Scotia are beginning to harvest the delicious veggies they have been growing over the summer.

Some of these folks have been growing vegetables to make a living; some have been doing it for yummy supper-time additions.  I can only guess that all are doing it with a sense of pride and love of the work.

I snapped the above photo a few years ago when I was visiting my parents and my mother was making chow.  These tomatoes were grown in Truro by my sister's father-in-law.  He grows a small garden for the love of growing. My mother, 225 kilometers away, turned them into chow. She made the chow for the love of cooking and sharing.  The chow was shared with friends, family and neighbors near and far.  For me, these tomatoes represent community. 

They also represent a sense of team work. While the man who grew the tomatoes is skilled at gardening, his chow making skills are, well, limited.  So, my mother, whose kitchen skills are not to be underestimated, got to work.  Team work after all, is all about varied skills coming together to create something wonderful.  

Swiss chard is one of my favorite veggies.  The photo above is a personal favorite from my galleries.

It is difficult for me to think about swiss chard without remembering my childhood neighbor. My house surrounded a small cove along the Atlantic Ocean and the other houses that surrounded that cove were in clear view of each other. Almost like a fish-bowl. So, when I would go out to play in the yard our neighbor across the way would see me, and she would step out on her deck and yell across the way,  "Amanda, do you want some cu-calm-bers?"  That's how she said it.  Cu-calm-bers.  Her name was Beatrice Richard and she was a sweet little Acadian French woman with a huge heart and warm smile. I don't remember going over to get the "cu-calm"bers" without leaving with a large bunch of swiss chard as well.  The cucumbers would be offered to me in a bag, and the swiss chard on invite of picking for myself from her garden. 

That is the generosity of a rural gardener. It was one of the moments in my childhood that instilled in me a true sense of community.  And it is the sharing that for me defines a community garden.

Incidentally, Beatrice since passed away and I haven't heard her voice in person for over 10 years or more - but hers is one that I randomly hear in my mind.  And then I see her in her red sweater, waving from the deck of your seaside home. And I smile. Cu-calm-bers.....

I currently work with someone who, in addition to his full time job in Halifax, runs a small rural farm in New Ross. Each morning (hours before I even dream of waking) he and his wife gather the ready-to-be-picked vegetables from their one-acre of farm land and bring them into work. They sell their produce at prices that are almost equal to giving it away.  Their goal: to make delicious, nutritious, chemical-free produce available at a low price, to folks who live in the city.  Their benefit: the joy of farming. The sense of community that their offerings create at my workplace is just an added bonus.

While the folks I have mentioned in this post harvest community along with their veggies, I remain thankful for all those who work to grow, and share, food. If you ate today, thank a farmer.

 

*The last photo in this post is courtesy of Dave Meister. It is a photo of his farm in New Ross.

 

 

 

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cashin.amanda@yahoo.ca (Amanda Cashin Photography) http://amandacashinphotography.zenfolio.com/blog/2013/9/community-garden Sun, 01 Sep 2013 13:50:52 GMT
Low Tide Art Gallery http://amandacashinphotography.zenfolio.com/blog/2013/8/the-tides-paint-brush One joy of summer in Nova Scotia is running carelessly barefoot down a sandy beach, or splashing through the waves as they lap on the shore.

Another joy for me, is strolling along the shore at a snail's pace, enjoying the sights and sounds of the sea. The best part of these strolls is the art work! Mother nature and her tides are very talented artists.

The impressions left by the ocean's tide always amaze me. Below are some images I have caputured on Nova Scotia beaches recently.  Each is a unique work of art, at the hands of the Atlantic Ocean. While I may see a similar pattern during a beach stroll in the future, I will never see these exact same designs again. That is what makes each of these photographs special.

Come, take a stroll with me through Mother Nature's Low Tide Art Gallery......

 

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cashin.amanda@yahoo.ca (Amanda Cashin Photography) http://amandacashinphotography.zenfolio.com/blog/2013/8/the-tides-paint-brush Thu, 01 Aug 2013 11:21:00 GMT
Nurturing a Love of Nature http://amandacashinphotography.zenfolio.com/blog/2013/7/nurturing-a-love-of-nature “In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks”  ~John Muir

 

I have been enjoying touring Nova Scotia in search of hiking and walking trails (and other adventures), for my blog Beachcomber and Trail-roamer.   I have been marrying my love of writing, photography and Nova Scotia.  I have been re-discovering my love of nature with every step.

I learned to appreciate nature from the time that I was very young. I was taught to see nature as everything from a recreation center, to a grocery store, to a pharmacy.  I learned early the value of being outside.  My playground was either a frozen lake, the beach, a forest trail, a field of flowers, or a mud puddle. Playing often involved picking berries or casting a fishing line.  I fished with my dad, picked berries with my mom, and helped both my parents dig for clams.  I did those things not only to have a delicious meal but to have fun. 

 

I also learned the value of maximizing natural resources.

I learned that salt water could sooth an infection. That in a forest emergency tree sap could be used to seal a bad cut until medical help was available.  Seaweed could serve as insulation around the foundation of a house – and it certainly did.  If I was out playing, depending on the time of year, snacks were readily available in the form of whatever berry was in season.

 

As adults, commitments find their way into our lives and we become “too busy”.  We often stop taking the time to enjoy and appreciate all of the simple pleasures in life, or to appreciate the value of nature. 

So, I make a point to continue to enjoy these pleasures, and to experience the many benefits of the great outdoors.  I am thankful to be able to share my nature photos and blog posts, as they often act as incentive for me to get outdoors.

 

I am an introvert.  Some might say an extreme introvert.  On some days I may tend to agree with them.

It has been my experience, and general consensus that introverts gain their energy from solitude, and that their energy is drained from being in crowds of people.  In my full time job I am surrounded by people every day.  Surrounded by people talking all day – talking to me, talking around me, talking at me….. talk, talk, talking.  Much of the time I enjoy the day-to-day interactions with others.  And I very much enjoy, and value, long talks with a friend.  But the introvert in me often becomes tired from all the day-to-day talking.  By day's end I am happy to have a little alone time.  And I long for the sound of a song bird in a tree, or the rustle of leaves on which he perches. I look forward to the quiet company of my little nature friends.

I rush almost everywhere I go.  I walk fast.  I want to get chores done quickly.  I am impatient much of the time. And I am a slave to the clock.  Always wondering what time it is, how long something will take, will I be on time, why isn’t my friend on time?…......

But this is not the case when I am walking in nature.

Time stands still. I forget there is even such a thing as time.   Life is not measured by minutes, days, months – not while I am surrounded by flowers, birds, leaves….  Life is in those moments is measured by how much nature I can absorb and the amount of joy it brings me.  It is measured by how much of it I can photograph!  I am forced by my own love of the delicate details in nature to slow down and absorb them all.  To be completely and wholeheartedly aware of my surroundings and to notice all of the tiny lives that make up this world.

I am drawn to all of the patterns, textures and colors that I miss when I am rushing through life.  And in those moments of observation I don’t for one minute think about what time it is.

Above all else, I feel healthiest when I can spend time in nature. My mind feels healthy, my body feels healthy and my heart feels healthy. I have more energy on the days that I spend in nature. During a hike I am thankful with each step for my ability to stretch and climb. I am mindful of the stretch of the muscles in my legs as I climb up hills and over rocks; mindful of my heart beating and my lungs filling with fresh air; mindful of a calm and stress-free mind.  And I am happiest in those moments.

 

Spring and summer in Nova Scotia are optimal times to experience nature.  As you will see from the photos in this post, it exists in so many places, and in many forms!  Enjoy it!

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cashin.amanda@yahoo.ca (Amanda Cashin Photography) http://amandacashinphotography.zenfolio.com/blog/2013/7/nurturing-a-love-of-nature Mon, 01 Jul 2013 22:35:57 GMT
My Nova Scotia Passport http://amandacashinphotography.zenfolio.com/blog/2013/6/my-nova-scotia-passport Below is a photo of what I am calling my “Nova Scotia Passport”.   It is a map of the province with a pin in each village, town, or city that I have explored.

 

I displayed my “passport” recently when I presented what I have learned from my website and blogs at the Festival of Learning at Nova Scotia Community College (NSCC).  The Festival of Learning is a fun conference-style venue for staff and students from all of NSCC’s 13 campuses. It is a venue for people to come together and share their learning, and to learn from their colleagues.

 

I wanted to share my learning from my website and blog because I have learned many things in a relatively short time. I presented my learning as I have experienced it: portfolio style. Since I began my website and two blogs I have reflected on what drives me to take photos and why I want to share them; what I needed to learn and do along the way; and what short-term and long-term goals I have needed to set.  To make a long story short – I have learned a little bit about technology, social media and networking, and a lot about what my passion truly is: sharing Nova Scotia’s beauty, nature and culture with others.  I am also passionate about encouraging people who live in Nova Scotia to explore their province and to be active contributors in the province’s economy.  Above that, I am passionate about encouraging people to get outdoors and explore this beautiful land that is my home.

 

One person, upon seeing my map of pins, asked how much of the rest of the world I have had a chance to explore.  My answer: not as much as I would like, in fact – very little beyond Atlantic Canada. My reason: when I do have extra time and money (both of which are precious and limited) – I choose to spend both in this beautiful little province that I love so dearly.  Of course, I am not so naive to think that there aren’t other, dare I say, even more beautiful parts of this world. And there are many cultures which I want to experience, and of course photograph.  The minute I win the jackpot on Lotto 649 I’ll be off to explore Ireland, Scotland, Iceland, perhaps India, all the knooks and crannies of Canada....and many more locations.

 

In the meantime, I have been thinking about how I can often feel as though I have visited more than one country, just in this small province. Nova Scotia is the second smallest province in Canada with an area of 55,281 square kilometers, but for its size it certainly has quite a lot of diverse beauty, and so much to see and do.

 

I am sharing some photos with you in this post which showcase Nova Scotia's diverse landscape.  From coarse red sand and high cliffs along the Bay of Fundy to lush green valleys and farmland in Wolfville and the surrounding Annapolis Valley, to rugged coasts along the Eastern Shore; and white sand beaches as far as the eye can see along the South Shore (and so many of them!); to sparsely treed landscapes scattered with granite rock near Peggy’s Cove; and rich and exciting ecosystems found on Brier Island, and of course I can't forget the oceanside properties speckled with Acadian flags in Yarmouth and along the Acadian Shore, or the thick forests and high mountains in the Cape Breton Highlands.

Each section of Nova Scotia is truly unique.  Unique in landscape; unique in people and traditions; even unique in language and dialects – from French to Gaelic, and the distinct accents in Cape Breton and the South Shore.  I love them all.

A few photos that are missing are photos of the Yarmouth and Acadian Shore, and of the Cape Breton Highlands.  Though I have visited these locations it was before I had really delved into my photography hobby.  Can you guess what is on my to-do list for upcoming vacations?!  I am certainly excited to get many more pins in my “passport” and continue to share this gem of a province with the world!  I hope you have a chance to get out and explore it as well.

 

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cashin.amanda@yahoo.ca (Amanda Cashin Photography) http://amandacashinphotography.zenfolio.com/blog/2013/6/my-nova-scotia-passport Sat, 01 Jun 2013 17:41:00 GMT
Beachcombing Bliss http://amandacashinphotography.zenfolio.com/blog/2013/5/beachcombing-bliss The air is fresh, salt spray on my skin, waves lapping on the shore and sea gulls calling in the distance.  And I am hunting for beach treasures.  Pure bliss.  My heart and soul are free in this moment - beachcombing is the best therapy.

Even if I find shells I've seen a million times; mussels, clams, periwinkles.... each one is a special treasure.

As small black beach spiders scurry to avoid me - truly the only spiders that are more afraid of me than I am of them, I continue to search for beach gems.  There might be a bright white, perfectly shaped conch shell, or a perfectly intact, bright green sea urchin; a soft pink scallop shell or a round creamy sand dollar.  There may even be a piece of bright blue sea glass, at which point my heart leaps.  Even though I have been finding such gems since I learned to walk, my excitement does not diminish. With each changing tide there is a new treasure to discover.

The most treasured of the treasured for me are sand dollars.  The beaches I combed for the first 18 years of my life were rocky coastlines, where sand dollars were rare. Finding one that wasn't broken in several small pieces was all but impossible. I found my first intact sand dollar on Carter's Beach on the South Shore and I still remember the thrill.  

What is the pull that these little shells have over us?  A pull that never leaves even decades after searching and finding the same shells over and over.  Perhaps a sense of home for many, or a sense of a yearning to be by the sea for others - but for all of us, a tie to a special part of nature that is found in these delicate treasures.

When I was growing up spring was often the time of year when my parents and I would trek out to the nearby island, crossing the peninsula at low tide, to dig clams. It was always a little chilly, but the snow would be gone and the remnants of the winter storms would be washed up on the beach - lots of new shells to discover and many pieces of unique driftwood to admire.

In my previous post Salt Water in my Blood my Aunt posted a comment, reminding me of the jewelry boxes and other crafts my grandfather would make from seashells. He and my Aunt would go out in search of treasures - their own personal "craft shop" in rural Guysborough County.  Free goods to satisfy a need to create.

As I was drafting this blog post with all the excitement of a kid at Christmas, remembering the joy of searching for shells, I began to consider the impact of beachcombing on the environment.  I will admit, I have a few shells in my living space - I kept the first sand dollar I found and I have some beautiful white shells displayed in my bathroom, as a reminder of home. But I consider more and more how important it is for me to abide by a "take only pictures" policy.  Aside from being sure to take only empty shells, or leaving larger ones for hermit crabs, does our taking shells from the beach have an impact on the environment?  If the answer is yes I can't with a good conscience continue to remove them, or promote removing them through this post.  So, I contacted the nice folks at the Ecology Action Centre.  Ashley Sprague helped set my mind at ease - she says that she only removes items that are not naturally found on the beach, such as beach glass, old pottery pieces or sometimes driftwood. "I really feel it is best to leave all the shells and sand in place." She goes on to say,  "As you know, they are reused by hermit crabs and they also eventually break down and become an important source of beach sand over time." 

I tend to agree and will now make an effort to live by a "take only pictures" rule when I encounter natural treasures.  My excitement of beachcombing will still be as intense of course - searching for, and finding all those beautiful treasures is still pure bliss.

 

 

 

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cashin.amanda@yahoo.ca (Amanda Cashin Photography) http://amandacashinphotography.zenfolio.com/blog/2013/5/beachcombing-bliss Wed, 01 May 2013 21:50:57 GMT
Salt Water in my Blood http://amandacashinphotography.zenfolio.com/blog/2013/4/salt-water-in-my-blood There is no location in Nova Scotia that is more than 56 KM from the ocean*.  The ocean is as important a part of Nova Scotia's culture as any one thing I can think of.  As important as the fiddle, a cup of tea, and the Acadian flag.

I could write a book about water and the ocean, not just a blog post - but I have decided to share just a few of my thoughts with you this month.

While I am tempted to write about the importance of conserving water, water as a life force for all living things, the lack of clean water in many countries, and my fear of my beloved Nova Scotia coastline being submerged under water because of global warming - this post is not about that.  I want to celebrate water, and its importance to the culture of Nova Scotia.  I celebrate the Atlantic Ocean as a beautiful landscape, a habitat for marine life, a place of recreation, and a place for Atlantic Canadians to make a living.

Nova Scotia is Canada's Ocean Playground.  It is home to the highest tides in the world.  The export value of fish in Nova Scotia is close to one billion dollars*.  Plus, as well as our beautiful Atlantic Ocean, there are over 5400 lakes in Nova Scotia*.  All of these things are worth celebrating.

I snapped this photo over the side of a boat during a whale watch tour off the coast of Brier Island. It is one of the photos in my collection that I find most calming.

I grew up a stone's throw from the ocean.  I have too many wonderful memories to count of being in a boat with my dad; fishing for mackerel, rowing in Charlos Cove Harbour, and enjoying day trips to nearby islands for beachcombing adventures.

I believe that my father had salt water in his blood.  I believe I do too. My father was born beside the ocean,played beside the ocean as a child, made a living on the ocean as an adult (working on oil carriers around the world and as a Merchant Marine during WWII). He spent his retirement enjoying every bit of life that is to be enjoyed beside the ocean, and I know he missed the ocean dearly when he wasn't able to look out the window and see it during the last months of his life.

Most of the above paragraph could be written about so many Nova Scotians.  I want to write this post in honour of each of them, in honour of my dad, and in honour of all men and women who currently make a living on the ocean.  I also want to write this post in honour of the 5 young fishermen who died on the Miss Alley this past February.  While watching the news coverage of their search, and then their memorials, those young men represented to me all the men and women who have lost their lives at sea; doing what they love and know best.  Doing what they need to do to provide for their families, and while doing so, contributing not only to an important aquaculture industry but to a culture of Maritime living.  While watching the news footage with a broken heart, I couldn't help but be thankful for my father's long and safe life.

The photo below was taken in my dad's beloved Charlos Cove, where after he passed away his ashes were scattered upon his wishes, to remain a part of the sea.

 

*Quoted statistics were sourced from the following sites: Wikipedia and Trade Team Nova Scotia

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cashin.amanda@yahoo.ca (Amanda Cashin Photography) http://amandacashinphotography.zenfolio.com/blog/2013/4/salt-water-in-my-blood Mon, 01 Apr 2013 12:32:14 GMT
Spring Clean http://amandacashinphotography.zenfolio.com/blog/2013/3/spring-cleaning Can you think of anything better than climbing into bed and being surrounded by fresh clean sheets that have been hung out on the clothesline?

Growing up we had a clothesline in our front yard.  Not the kind where you step out on your deck in your slippers and hang your clothes on a pulley system. No, it was the kind where you haul your heavy wet clothes into the yard, pin them on the line and then hoist the line with a wooden pole to keep the clothes off the ground, allowing the wind to reach under them and lift them into the air.

I have several "bucket list" photos I want to take.  One of them is a beautiful patch work quilt (or line of bright white sheets) on a clothesline, in a field, with the ocean or a farm in the background.

For now, my photo of pot holders will do. I snapped my pot holders photo while I was visiting Sherbrooke Village several years ago. It represents for me the use of renewable energy, in the wind power that is used to dry these little pot holders.  I also see the use of renewable resources in the wooden clothespins. I remember the first time I saw a plastic clothespin. My heart sank just a little. I am a traditionalist.

I love that the pot holders are worn and tattered in places, but still useable and in no need of replacement as they continue to serve their purpose.  And, like any worn and tattered item, they tell a story.  In this case it is a story of serving fresh baked bread to tourists who visit Sherbrooke Village, but in any other location it might be a story of many meals cooked and served to families, and the time spent together over a hearty home-cooked meal.  I can imagine that these little pot holders smell not only of fresh clean air but a little bit of shortening and flour that has seeped its way into the fibers, too stubborn to come out in the wash.

When I see my Sherbrooke Village pot holders, or the photo above I smell fresh clean air.  This photo above was taken in Lunenburg, and whether it is true or not, I like to pretend that the sweaters on the line belong to local fisherman who needed them to stay warm on the cold Atlantic Ocean.

I walk for about an hour a day in the city.  I walk past houses and apartment building and I so, so often miss the smell and simplicity of fresh clean air!  Often while enjoying a nice pace and a clear head, reflecting quietly on my day, my senses become invaded with the smell of toxic chemicals - from harsh air fresheners or from dryer vents shooting the smell of dryer sheets into the air.  If you are reading this and you grew up near the ocean you will know that one of the very best smells in the world is that of fresh salt air in clean sheets.  No "Bounce" required.

With March now upon us, spring is just around the corner.  While I love winter I am certainly looking forward to washing the road salt off my winter boots and packing them up for another year.  And yes, I am excited about spring cleaning. And hopefully, salt air in my sheets.

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cashin.amanda@yahoo.ca (Amanda Cashin Photography) http://amandacashinphotography.zenfolio.com/blog/2013/3/spring-cleaning Fri, 01 Mar 2013 12:15:54 GMT
Celebrate What You Love http://amandacashinphotography.zenfolio.com/blog/2013/2/celebrate-what-you-love Winter in Nova Scotia can feel long.  For some, winter can feel down-right gloomy.... going to work in the dark, coming home from work in the dark. I am not surprised when people are shocked to learn that winter is my favorite time of year.  I truly love winter.  I love the fresh crisp air in my lungs, the brightness of the sun on freshly fallen snow, I love to curl up indoors with hot cocoa when there is a raging blizzard outside, and I love to be outside in a raging blizzard!  There are so many wonderful opportunities for beautiful photos in the winter that don't exist any other time of year. Photos that can be captured outdoors, or like the one below, from the warmth and comfort of the indoors.

This is a favorite photo of mine (I have so many favorites...).  It is a photo of the ice on a window. The beautiful shades of blue are a result of Charlos Cove Harbour under a sharp blue sky on the other side of the window.  I couldn't have captured this gem in July.

My sister thinks that I love winter so much because I was born in winter - perhaps she is onto something.  I was born on Valentine's Day and not only because it is my birthday is it my favorite day of the year.

There are many people out there who not only don't celebrate Valentine's Day, but even go so far as to have anti-Valentine's Day parties. Heartbreaking!  Valentine's Day for me is not just a "Hallmark Holiday".  For one thing, it is a time of year when like I said above, the days are short and the nights are long - and a time when I welcome the bright bursts of pinks and reds against the bright white snow or the dark night sky.

Valentine's Day is a romantic holiday; but romance isn't just about being in love.  One definition of romance is a fascination or enthusiasm for something, another, a spirit or feeling of adventure or excitement, or something that evokes emotion.  For me, Valentine's Day is about love in all its forms.  And for me, Valentine's Day is like Thanksgiving.  I choose to spend the day celebrating, and being thankful for, the things I love.

I love to take pictures. I love to tour Nova Scotia. I love the lyrics and melodies of Matt Mays, and the hard-core rock energy of The Trews and of Slash.  I love reading a book that takes me to another place while I am really just sitting in my comfiest pajamas sipping hot cocoa.  I love the crisp cold breeze in December and the fresh spring air in May.  I love the feel of tree roots under my feet on a hiking trail. As I write this I can smell the bowl of apples on the table beside me, fresh and sweet... I love that too.

There is so much to love about this world, why not take a day to celebrate and be excited about it.  What will you celebrate this Valentine's Day?

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cashin.amanda@yahoo.ca (Amanda Cashin Photography) http://amandacashinphotography.zenfolio.com/blog/2013/2/celebrate-what-you-love Fri, 01 Feb 2013 12:10:45 GMT