Tag Archives: inspiration

The Edge of the Sea

As part of my preparations for our trip around the edge of Nova Scotia, I have been learning about intertidal zones. Growing up on the “Mid-west Coast”, my experiences in intertidal zones are few, but they are memorable. In 2007, I spent two weeks at the Oregon Institute of Marine Biology taking a course in Coastal Biology.

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On our day off, one of the professors let me join him for a poke around a rocky shore near Coos Bay. This professor is a specialist in nudibranchs, which are mollusks without shells, sometimes called “sea slugs”. Nudibranchs are often very small but beautifully colored. I recall him scooping a small orange blob from the salty water and placing it in my hand. And then there was this gumboot chiton with its little white wormy buddy (look near my left thumb):

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My next memorable visit to an intertidal zone was in 2013. I traveled to Cape Cod for a company meeting, and had the opportunity to visit the Cape Cod National Seashore with a friend. Walking the beach, we came across mysterious clear capsules strewn about the sand like marbles. They were translucent with bright blue pigment in the digestive system.

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In the Visitors Center, we learned that they were sea salps – a type of zooplankton. (Check out this National Geographic article to learn more.) How many other lifeforms exist in the ocean that I have never even imagined?


The shoreline of Nova Scotia is very different from that of Oregon or of Cape Cod and has its own wonders. Nova Scotia’s rocky coast is bordered to the north by the Bay of Fundy. Rachel Carson wrote about the bay in the Edge of the Sea. She said, “…the physical forces of the American Atlantic coast are such that the observer of its life has spread before him almost with the clarity of a well-conceived scientific experiment, a demonstration of the modifying effect of tides, surf, and currents. It happens that the northern rocks, where life is lived openly, lie in the region of some of the strongest tides, of the world, those within the area of the Bay of Fundy. Here the zones of life created by the tides have the simple graphic force of a diagram.”

This “graphic force of a diagram” appeals to me, and I have already spent hours with my graph-paper, sketching knitting motifs inspired by intertidal zonation.

Amherst State Park

Happy Winter!

It seems as though I have been looking forward to this season – wool sweater season – for weeks now. Yesteray my dad, brother, and I celebrated its official arrival with a short walk at Amherst State Park. The land that makes up this park once belonged to the Franciscan Sisters’ convent, and became a State Park in 2001.DSC_0419c

Walking down the small hill from the Mother House (now apartments), we reached the old orchard of apple and pear trees. These trees have not been pruned in a long time, though the famous October Storm of 2006 did cut them back considerably. Some years, my mom picked apples for applesauce, but most of the time we visit just to take a walk and to watch the neighborhood dogs playing in the old field.DSC_0418_01

On the far side of the old orchard, there is a bridge that crosses Ellicott Creek…DSC_0423dand paths travel both banks. DSC_0420_01 DSC_0421c

The muddy trails were flooded in several areas, and we had a few precarious crossings.DSC_0431_01

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(Wearing my Icelandic wool sweater – the most wonderful Goodwill find)

The woods were gray and the only birdlife was a lone sparrow, but the creek was lovely. Along the undercut banks, hundreds of icicles were hanging.DSC_0426_01

DSC_0425_01 Here in the flat towns north of Buffalo, we don’t have scenic vistas, or epic landscapes, but these small and unexpected finds make each walk worthwhile!