A favourite walk of mine follows the old railway bed along the water’s edge, from Smith’s Cove to Digby. Over the course of twelve months, John and I have hiked the trail a number of times and witnessed the changing seasons in all their glory.

Winter has a beauty all its own.

A monochrome scene punctuated with withered berries and shrivelled apples, still hanging from branches despite the fierce winds that come off the bay.

As the snow cleared, our winter-weary spirit was lifted with vibrant shades of green that are only seen in spring, as trees stir from their slumber. Nesting birds flitted amongst the bare branches. Catkins dangled in the brisk April breezes and soft pussy willows purred to us as we passed.

 

Yellow dandelions were quickly replaced by purple lupins. Pink milkweed sprung up to welcome the monarch butterflies home for the summer.

This week, as we walked, we snacked on blackberries that we found amongst the swathes of Queen Anne’s Lace and Golden Rod. The fat heads of bulrushes were poking their pointed noses out of the ditches and apples were starting to swell. Dragonflies were resting in the sunshine.

 

The trail always rewards us with something new to see, but this time there was a real treat when we reached Digby.

In honour of the 150th anniversary of the Canadian Confederation, the Rendezvous 2017 Tall Ships Regatta, sees the magnificent Tall Ships visiting various ports in the Maritimes, including Digby.

Digby Tall Ships Bagpipes
Bagpipers were playing on the waterfront, in kilts made from Annapolis Royal’s very own tartan; Tartan Wave.

A carnival atmosphere was apparent in the town when we arrived, with lively music, costumed vendors and street entertainment.

An artisans trail alongside Digby harbour was showcasing the regions talented artists and craftspeople.

We stopped awhile and chatted with Jay Stone, who had a wonderful display of his Turned Timbers bowls and vases.

Digby crafts
Jay Stone turns local woods into bowls and art forms. As an arborist, Jay has a keen eye for recognising a beautiful piece of wood, which he transforms into an original piece of art. If you missed him in Digby, you can visit his studio in Bear River, or find him at the Annapolis Royal Farmer’s & Trader’s Market every Saturday morning through the summer.   Photo Credit@ Cheryl Stone

Artists, rug hookers and spinners were demonstrating their skills. We listened to an informative talk on cooking the scallops that Digby is famous for and pirates were mingling with the crowd.

Digby crafts
Artist, Clare Thorbes specialises in pet portraits, but today she was capturing the nostalgic scene of a harbour filled with schooners and square riggers. Photo credit@ Cheryl Stone.

After winding our way along the boardwalk we were treated to the spectacle of seven Tall Ships, moored alongside the wharf; Picton Castle, Lord Nelson, Wylde Swan, St Lawrence II, When and If, Bowdoin and Bluenose II. We watched in awe at the agility of the young men and women high up in the riggings.

 

As the sailing ambassador for Nova Scotia, the Bluenose II had pride of place at the Digby wharf.

The schooner was built in 1963 as a faithful replica of the first Bluenose. The original ship was launched in 1921 and raced undefeated in international competition for 17 years. There are many theories regarding the origin of the name, but my favourite is the story of fishermen’s mittens:

Fishermen’s wives would knit mittens for their husbands to wear at sea, using a cheap blue dye for colouring. Cold wet conditions and blowing winds caused runny noses for the hardy fishermen. Constantly wiping their noses with mitten covered hands, the cheap blue dye coloured the fishermen’s noses blue.

I love the idea of blue stained faces, something I know only too well, from many a muddy face after wiping a runny nose while doing barn chores on cold mornings.

The ships stayed in port overnight. They sailed on the high tide the following evening. We took the opportunity to watch them leaving Digby from the cliffs at Point Prim Lighthouse. They were a majestic sight against the setting sun. After the bustle of Digby, it was wonderful to sit on the quiet cliffs and watch them slip by.

 

Bon Voyage!

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