Ever wonder where I found the photos of the two trucks that I used as the header for TJP? These are two old geezers parked in Neil Duncanson’s lot. He’s my closest neighbour—“up the road” about 1 km from our place. One day I asked Neil if I could take a photo for my web site. “Fill your boots,” he said.
Thinking about the 10K challenge, I wondered what the story was behind those trucks so I went back for a visit; he was more than happy to elaborate. Turns out that the photo is of a 1967 Mack truck and a Mercedes Benz truck … both built in the 1980s. Neil used that Mack to haul gravel when he built our driveway 10 years ago.
As we walk around his property where the trucks are, Neil points to his pride and joy. “Now that’s an old 48 Dodge from Omaha Nebraska. People referred to this model as the “steak & grain”—an old farmer’s truck that hauled grain—and it’s still in running condition.” He grins ear to ear then adds, “It still has the original tires from 48, can you believe that?” … said for emphasis rather than as a question.
“Now you wait a minute. I’ll be right back.” He pirouettes and disappears faster than I can blink. I take several photos of the trucks and turn around to find Neil standing beside a 1903 Ford he’s wheeled out from a long white building. Only there is no wheel. Rather, there’s a long stick shift (think elongated joy stick) coming up from the middle of the floor. This is what turns the car left or right. “It’s just like using a tiller on a sail boat.” Behind the seat is a gas tank the size of a shoe box. Neil loves going for wee drives on the Canaan Road with his lady-friend, Isabelle. “I call it Driving Miss Daisy.”
How many cars and truck does he have? “I don’t really know. Some that I’ve bought are still in people’s backyards. They’re all over the place. And I have a couple up behind the house. One’s a ‘51 burgundy Buick. It looks like an old mob car.” But that’s not all. Inside his “shop” are more antiques, including three sleighs that would have been pulled by horses, including the one that belonged to his great-great-grandmother.
Who’da thunk? All this loot right next door! He invited me back to go for a drive in the 1903 Ford. I will.
Next on the agenda was a visit to the C.R.K. Allen Nature Reserve over in Quinan. It’s monitored by TREPA … a group of volunteers who invest a lot of time, energy and expertise to protect our environment. As the crow flies, the nature reserve is only 8 km from my front door, but it’s about a 16 km drive. Matters not. It’s a lovely cruise through Quinan, an Acadian community that’s known far and wide for its wild game dinner and dance on the first Saturday in March. (That’s a story for another time.) The pavement morphs into a dirt road which eventually narrows, then crosses a small bridge.
We park the car then turn left onto canopied wood road to a small clearing. Stationed quietly on the side of the forest is a large, handsome rock noting the name of the reserve. C.R.K. Allen was teacher, active naturalists and a founding member of the Nova Scotia Bird Society. He had a life-long interest in the natural environment, and was always happy to lead nature walks and to share his knowledge. He wrote Yarmouth County—A Naturalist’s Notebook. In the first chapter titled “The Setting,” he says that when it comes to wildlife, plants and animals, there is little difference between the three counties (Yarmouth, Digby and Shelburne) but he points out that “Yamouth does have the distinction of possessing some species found in neither of the other two, or for that matter, in any other part of Nova Scotia or New England.”
This is what makes this nature reserve so special. It has an impressive list of such specimens. Most important is the gorgeous Plymouth gentian. At the time the reserve was acquired in the mid 80s, it had the largest stand of that plant north of the Carolinas.
Other important flora found here is the dwarf chain fern, panic grass, groundnut (an edible root used by natives); Rhexia virginica (handsome Harry); water lobelia; pipewort; and Plantanthera flava (a pale flowered orchid)—to name but a few!
It’s a leisurely hike in (about 1km) that leads to the foot of Coldfoot Stream. At this point, you are on the Tusket River system with Gilfillan Lake to the left. An upstream turn would take you into Third Lake.
Before the author goes on to expand on the ebb and flow of each season and the habitat in this part of the world, he closes the first chapter by saying:
So this is Yarmouth County, an unassuming little wedge of lake-broidered land … there is no obvious glamour—the hurrying traveller will pass by without a second glance. But let him tarry awhile, however short, and the magic begins to work. As in the land of the lotus-eaters, the longer he stays the harder it will be to leave. If he is not careful, he may end up an old-timer as much in love with this enchanted land—or almost as much—as we who were born here.
I love this last paragraph and find myself reading it over and over. And to think that I’ve lived so close to this treasure yet this is my first visit here. It won’t be my last.
Bonus: adjacent to the C.R.K. Allen Nature Reserve is a substantial hunk of land that’s owned by the Nature Conservancy of Canada. Another place to explore.
Any “finds” in your neighbourhoods? Pleas share! Would love to read about them.