Maritime Cultural Quirks

While Richard is busy with his beautiful photography, I look around for interesting “quirks and quarks” of local culture. Newfoundland and New Brunswick did not disappoint.

First were the many, many piles of firewood. Some like works of art forming walls or fences near private homes. Others within sight of the highways, having been cut in the woods and brought out by sled to age/dry for at least a year before being ready to use. (See previous blog)

Then we started noticing large wooden or metal boxes at the end of private driveways near the road. What could they be for, we wondered.

Many were octagonal in shape. Others were a variety of shapes, paint work and decorations.
A few metal ones had been fashioned from old household oil tanks and other objects as a way of recycling metal.
Some were beautifully color coordinated with the house and its various outer buildings and “stages”.
The level of detail on some was quite extraordinary. Even curtains on the windows.
Some imitating the Jelly Bean houses of St. John’s NFLD
Wonder if this one helps the children learn to put things away.
Some brought back memories of a favorite product.
Some resembled local landmarks

All this to provide a safe place for residential garbage to prevent wildlife, birds or even stray dogs from creating a mess. And the local waste collectors/recyclers leave the lid up to let the home owners know they have been by to collect. Certainly much better looking than the alternative.

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The Art of Firewood

Most of us know the joy of sitting in front of a wood fire, whether it is an outdoors campfire, in an outdoor fire pit, or indoors in a fireplace or wood burning stove. Some of us take pride in chopping our own wood, others have a local provider deliver it.

Those that live in Newfoundland have truly turned this into an art. 

Stacked like a Work of Art

First the trees are cut down in long lengths. If it is in winter they may be transported on a sled pulled behind a skidoo. Wood is then moved to a staging location where it is allowed to age. It stands on end to allow the sap to run to the base. Then it is laid flat.

Various stages of aging the wood
Sled for Moving Wood

Once dried, it is cut to the correct length, split and then stacked.

Some lengths might even be taken to a local mill for building lumber. The outer scrap pieces are kept and added to the wood pile.

Once the stacks are moved closer to home for ready access they are covered in a variety of ways. For some they have a special wood shed, others use their garage

Great pride is taken by all in the amount of firewood and how well it is stacked.

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Astounded by Frightened Trees

This was our first visit to the Petrified Forrest National Park and we were completely surprised and astounded by the colours within the Petrified Tree Logs, which are really fossils.

Spectrum of Coloured Quartz in a Petrified Log

The trees grew in a climate similar to Costa Rica’s before the tectonic plates split up. Some 200 million years ago they were washed into a river system and quickly buried by massive amounts of sediment, thereby cutting them off from a water supply and greatly slowing down their decay.

The colours came from minerals that were contained in the water that penetrated the buried trees and created large crystals of clear quartz, purple amethyst, yellow citrine, and smoky quartz. These crystals were formed within the trees’ cellular structure over the millennia preserving that structure, which is easily seen today.

Spectrum of Coloured Quartz in a Petrified Log

The petrified trees are now formed of very hard but brittle crystal structures.

We did notice that often the logs were surrounded by red crystals which appear to have been created in the bark of the original tree.

Red Crystals Surround the Log

Should this be the case, some were quite thick layers of bark, something like the Sequoia trees of today.

Thick Red Crystals Surround the Log
Thick Red Crystals Surround the Log

The images showing the colours in the petrified wood were taken on the trail behind the Visitor Center and on the Crystal Forest trail.

Spectrum of Coloured Quartz in a Petrified Log

However, on the Long Logs trail there were very few examples of the brightly coloured crystals and the logs were predominantly brown and black. Presumably a different water supply which did not contain the minerals that had created the bright colours elsewhere.

Long Logs with Few Bright Colours – Brown and Black
Long Logs with Few Bright Colours – Brown and Black
Long Logs in the Badlands Landscape

Given how long these Petrified Logs have been exposed, it came as a surprise that lichens and other flora appear to have difficulty colonizing the logs, but there are traces of this as seen below.

Lichen starting to grow on a Petrified Log

The crystals are very reflective of light, so these images were taken using a polarizing filter to reduce the reflective glare. The filter also tends to increase the saturation of the colours a little.

Gear: Nikon D800, Nikon GP-1, Nikon MB-D12, Nikkor 80.0-400.0mm f/4.5-5.6 VRIII, Nikon 77mm Thin Polarizing Filter, Lexar Digital Film

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Birds Seen for the First Time

This is a link to a recent post to my photography blog – for those who have yet to sign up for my photography blog (it is really easy and you can cancel at any time).

Please click HERE to go to the complete blog post.

Lazuli Bunting (Passerina amoena)

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Sea Otters – Mum & Pup

A recent post on my photography blog.  Louise and I had a fabulous day with Al and Toddy of Archipelego Cruises out of Ucluelet on Vancouver Island, British Columbia.

Click image to go to full post and all images.

Pup Sea Otter cuddling up on Mum’s belly.

Gear: Nikon D4s, Nikkor 80.0-400.0mm f/4.5-5.6 VRIII, Nikkor TC-14 EII, Lexar Digital Film, Archipelego Cruise’s 53′ Canoe Cove Motor Yacht

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