Monday, June 29, 2009

The Whirlygig Factory


Isn't it fun to pronounce? Besides that, they are also fun to look at. When you are driving along the Lighthouse Route between Mahone Bay and Chester, you can't help but notice the flurry of whirligig's at The Whirlygig Factory. So many that they'll make your head spin.

As I type, I can't help but wonder why my spell check is picking up whirlygig with a "y". I'll come back to that later but first, what is a whirligig?

Wikipedia describes a whirligig as "wind-powered hanging art"- big contrast for what they were used for in ancient times as spinning torture devices. Now these lawn and garden ornaments is considered folk art. A visit to The Whirlygig Factory is where you can get your fix of these quirky and fun ornaments.

It was here where I met Barry and Kara Coutts, owners and creators everything whirligigish. They'll custom make your piece or choose from many designs either on display or on their website.

When I arrived, Barry was the first person I met. Busy in his workshop, he was working on one of his "Tit-il-ating Mermaids". These lovely ladies make you giggle at first and then you realize that these beauties are works of art. Found throughout the property reading in hammocks or playfully posing in a flower garden. It takes 400 feet of copper wire to make the hair, 5 hours to strip the wire and fashion it to the head. Their jewelery are fashioned from glass beads and sea shells.

The Turner Collection was inspired by Bunny & Pat Turner of Nova Scotia who wanted an old traditional whirligig reproduced. Barry was then motivated to create their own line of true "folk" whirlygigs, the one pictured here is "Musher". Also part of the collection is "Harvey the Hunter", "Wanda the Wash Lady", "Charlie the Chopper", "Peggy the Pump Lady" - all wind powered, colourful and entertaining.

As to why there is a difference between whirlygig and whirligig? A quick phone call to Kara said it's merely for phonetic reasons because that's how most people would spell it.

Helpful information:

Location of The Whirlygig Factory

The 10th Annual Whirligig & Weathervane Festival September 19 & 20, 2009 in Shelburne, NS

The South Shore region

The Lighthouse Route

Friday, June 19, 2009

Swimming at Taylors Head Provincial Park in June

Taylor Head Provincial Park, Spry Bay, Nova ScotiaIt was a glorious Sunday morning.

It was the morning after a family gathering where we dined on lobster and potato salad. The sun was strong and the wind was weak. The black flies were either sleeping in or the bug spray was really working.

It was the perfect time to take a drive "down the head" - that's Taylor Head Provincial Park. It's a gem of a park along the Eastern Shore known for it's white powdery sand and scenic hiking trails.

It's also known for it's cold water. In fact, I can only count on one hand how many times I swam in the water as a kid. One time I was told by a camp counselor that helicopters dropped ice cubes into the water. Why? I never asked. Perhaps my lips were shivering too much to ask.

As my father, sister, cousin, and friend where walking along the beach, my sister out of the blue said "I'm going in!" We said in shock and horror "where", she said "there!", pointing to the water. Before you could say "I dare you" she was running toward the water and jumping in. Clothes and all. You know that happened next? We proceeded to jump one by one into the water as my daughter looked on.

You know what? The water was nice. Then again, I was fully clothed.

Additional info:
Taylor Head Provincial Park brochure and directions

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Pink Lady's Slippers: To pick or not to pick

There is a trail behind our house and recently I discovered various patches of Lady's Slippers. Actually, it was a woman taking a picture of these flowers that first caught my eye.

What are these puffed up flowers all about? Well, here are a few interesting facts:

- they are a wild orchid (Cypripedium acaule)
- also known as the moccasin flower
- can cause severe dermatitis if touched
- it's the provincial flower of Prince Edward Island, since 1965
- it is the only flower with a lip (slipper)
- they prefer poor, acid soils (around pH 4-5) and do best in light to moderate shade.
- growth is slow, and it may take several years to flower
- they are fragile and do not transplant well, in fact, it's discouraged
- should not be picked or used in floral arrangements

People tell me that information about Nova Scotia's conservation of the Lady's Slipper is available but I cannot seem to find anything. Send a comment if you know and I'll happily post it.