Photo by Northover Photography

A few weeks ago, a friend gave me the most divine jar of homemade strawberry jam. I had planned on hiding it in the back of the fridge only to pull it out later this fall when I needed a little taste of summer to remind myself of a few sweet lazy days when the thoughts of the pandemic and the return to questionable schedules still seemed far away.

But as I sit and write my editor’s note today, that jar of jam is long gone, and the few days spent in my bathing suit with my only agenda trying to thermal download the sunshine and wonder what I was going to make for dinner vanished just as quickly.

As much as I would have loved to stretch those easy summer days out for a few more weeks there is another part of me that is ready to fall back into the routine that comes with this change of season.

I still find it hard to believe that we are six months into this new way of living, but as I watched my daughter pull out of the driveway last week to return to her university town in Ontario, I was reminded about how much we all need to reconnect to the things that make us feel like we still have solid ground under our feet. The return to school this fall is one of the most important pillars of resuming to life as we used to know it. Even if you no longer have children in the education system, when school is in it provides an underpinning that all is okay. We all know that things are going to be tricky this fall and as I helped my younger daughter pick out a few masks to co-ordinate with her new back to school outfits, I once again felt the pinch of our new realities. By the time you read this message our young people will be back to school, I hope without too many hiccups, and some of you might have even started to return to your places of work after a long hiatus from these environments. We are all students this fall with lots to learn about what we can or cannot do to continue to keep our communities and loved ones safe. With any learning opportunity there are bound to be mistakes and unfortunately, some of these blunders could have dire consequences no matter how little we think they may be at the time.

With all of this in mind, the fall issue of At Home on the North Shore came together a little differently this time. You will notice that we do not have a home story for the first time since we first published five years ago. But what we do have is a true celebration about how we can manifest the lives we want to live; as close to the people that we love and to continue to celebrate the gifts of living in such a remarkable part of this world. I truly am in love with our cover story “Coming Soon: To a Backyard Near You” and the imagination of decorator and writer Allison Gaudett. She has the flair to take what many of us have in our homes and magically transform a space into something new and exciting. As we all spend more time at home, reimagining our spaces can be exciting and fulfilling.

I spent most of the summer preparing simple food and snacks and ordering from local eateries. While I still will be enjoying the fare of local restaurants this fall, I am also getting excited about planning a few small dinner parties. I was inspired by my friend Jill Linquist, who has many talents, and one of them is cooking. She is the first of a series of stories that will show up in future issues about great home chefs and their favourite recipes. And new to the line-up this fall is the feature The Stream written by Debbi Harvie. We will continue to explore ways to divert from landfills and find creative ways to upcycle and become more mindful of the things that can have a new lease on life.

The magazine weaves in a lot of subtle lessons that we can all learn from. From the little victories that come with the harvest of first-time gardeners to the blissful balance found in a new type of busy as told by Sara Jewell in her Field Notes column. We are all life-long learners. We have some tough homework ahead of us this year and a steep learning curve. We all might need a little tutoring, but I know that we have some very smart people in this big classroom that we call Nova Scotia and we have the wisdom and optimism to write the book that will tell this tale somewhere down the road.