About eight years ago my husband and I purchased a few acres of shorefront in the Braeshore area of Pictou County. Our family affectionately refers to it as “The Land.” It was once the summer retreat for the family who owned the shipyard in our community. In its day it was likely a pretty grand little cottage but when we picked up the property we soon realized that the once idyllic little beach bungalow with its south-facing sun porch and beach stone fireplace was way beyond our ability to restore. To this day I regret tearing it down. The “what if” still wafts in the air like bonfire smoke. Perhaps with the right help we could have managed its restoration. The plan to build our own family retreat is also mingled in that smoky haze. It’s not that we haven’t been dreaming and even investing in this future life at the shore, but as every season passes it pains me as a little more of that property crumbles over the bank and disappears into the Northumberland Strait. In the last couple of years we have taken a few steps to preserve the shoreline to attenuate its vulnerability to increasingly aggressive storm surges. We have made adjustments to the slope; however, we have recently learned that we need more adjustments to the angle. We have dug a pond to help catch run off from adjacent properties, albeit increasing the mosquito population and a new driveway diverts traffic from the old entry that was closer to the shoreline. While frustrated at times for the snail pace of progress, my bond with “The Land” becomes stronger every year. The time has provided an opportunity to learn about how our little ecosystem works or should be working if we are going to live a life close to the water.
When we compare our current surveys of the property to those of not so many years ago we know that more than 70 feet of land has tumbled down the bank. We know that as polar ice continues to melt our waters will rise and we know that weather patterns are changing with dramatic affects, but still we want that little slice of heaven on the water.
So what do we do? My only answer is to make our shoreline as resilient as it can be against the forces of nature and to accept that our shorelines are living, breathing entities, meant to change and never to be a static picture post card. Just like taking care of our personal health we need to look at the whole system and think holistically and perhaps most importantly know that I am going to have to remain patient and understand that the process will take years before we will really see the return in our investment.
In Rachael McLean’s feature To Love and Protect she tells a very similar tale of a property not far from ours whose stalwart owners are investing in the future of their own shoreline and, by doing so, educating and engaging their entire neighbourhood.
Our cover story is also a call to the sea but a slightly different story about preservation and patience. Stella and Gary Hollett welcome us to their beach house in Chance Harbour where it took almost 20 years to transform the family cottage into their stunning year round home.
It’s summer time and the livin’ is easy…or so the song goes. But for most of us it is time to engage in the labours of love in the great outdoors. When mowing the lawn or planting the first rows of carrots in the garden doesn’t seem like work, especially if it is rewarded with a refreshing cocktail and if a little rain should fall you know we have an amazing recipe for homemade marshmallows to toast over a bonfire on your own favourite shore.