Last Leaves and First Snow

Leaves turn and fall, trees shake their branches clear, the winds turn colder, the sunsets come earlier. Having grown up in the Philippines, these changing seasons still hold some novelty for me, even years later.

Backyard Fall Colour
Backyard Fall Colour

I don’t think I’d ever seen in real life the fiery red glow of fallen maple leaves till this autumn in Canada.

Autumn Maple Leaves
Autumn Maple Leaves

And then, an early snow, much more than was forecast.

Snowy Day Snowy Day
Snowy Sunrise

And out our windows, through the now-bare branches, the slightest glint of ocean can now be seen. Colder, darker days are here.

Halloween 2020

As an alternative to trick-or-treating we had a little costumed Halloween hunt around the house, Easter Egg style, but with little pumpkins full of candy. Ezra got to be a robot.


Halloween 2020 Halloween 2020
Ezra as Robot for Halloween 2020

We still had lots of trick-or-treaters, with many neighbours opting for distanced distribution systems like candy slides. I just spread out treats on a folding table out on the front lawn with some hand sanitizer, disinfecting regularly with alcohol from a spray bottle, then standing off at a distance in my Star Trek redshirt, telling trick-or-treaters to “Live long and prosper and sanitize your hands” as a full Halloween moon rose to the East.

Halloween 2020 "Blue Moon" of Halloween 2020

Provincial Wildlife Park

Went on a day trip to Shubenacadie Wildlife Park to see the animals and walk around the marsh trail a bit. I was hoping to see the moose but it wasn’t out that day; that’s okay — the foxes and birds and raccoons more than made up for it. Glad I brought my NEX3N and telephoto lens along.

Yawning Arctic Fox Sleepy Fox Peregrine Falcon Raccoon

Amusingly, Ezra’s favourite part of the Park was just running through the Wildlife Station Building and following the arrows from entrance to exit. Here is with a bear.

Shubenacadie Wildlife Park

More photos from the Wildlife Park, which is about a 45 minute drive from Halifax.

COVID-19 NS Update

Seven months now since we went into COVID-19 lockdown. Active cases in Nova Scotia peaked in April, and since June the province has been at no more than 0-3 new #covid19 cases per day, mostly stretches of zero cases for up to 2 weeks. Schools have been open for over a month now with no spread, so the virus is most likely not in the community. Travel from outside the Atlantic Bubble requires 2 weeks of isolation, but there are enough exceptions that there is still some risk. Public distancing and masking requirements remain in place, and they generally seem to be working.

Mic Mac Mall Pandemic Measures Rainbow Haven Beach, Nova Scotia

We did have a mild scare when Ezra got a fever and a sore throat with sniffles: most likely a common cold picked up from his first week in school, but we kept him home till he got a COVID-19 test, out of an abundance of caution advised by schools and provincial health authorities. The test (long swab in nose) was painful and unpleasant, but he was a trooper and got a popsicle at the end of the experience — and a negative result a day later.

Masked at IWK

Right now we’re very glad that we moved to Nova Scotia in particular; there’s been a strong local sense of community and civic responsibility in the face of this pandemic that’s been key to keeping it down here — although I fear this will not last, as cases are starting to rise in other provinces and especially the rest of Canada and the world.

Canadian Tire precautions Pandemic! at the Costco

Still, right now, in contrast with other places where public health is mired in conspiracy theories and deadly unscientific bluster, I’m proud of Nova Scotia’s general resiliency and [mostly] prevailing good sense. We’re doing okay.

Bus Says Be Safe

Random photos from our pandemic-era life.

Donairsilog

Filipino-Nova Scotian fusion breakfast experiment: “donairsilog” — really just leftover donair meat with brown rice and a fried egg. (Please excuse my sad egg.)

Donairsilog

It tasted quite good, with the sweet donair meat, slightly burnt, reminiscent of beef tapa, rounded out well by the rice. Remnants of condensed milk-based sauce plus tomato and onion provided small dairy and vegetable components which even made this a [sort of] complete breakfast.

First Day of School

It was a foggy Tuesday morning (Monday was Labour Day). Ezra was both nervous and excited, with a backpack on his back and a lunch bag in his hand. When he entered school there was no hesitation, no anxiety. As he released my hand I wished him a fun day and he smiled back uncertainly, then he turned and walked into school without looking back.

First day of school: blurry

I could say this photo is artfully blurred to reflect my feelings as I watch my son take his first steps into school, beginning his journey away from home and towards eventually finding his independent self in the world at large; but really my phone camera just kept focusing on the door window mesh. There’s a clearer image here but I like how the candid, hasty one above came out.

At the end of the day he came out looking almost shell-shocked, quiet and unresponsive after emerging from school. I thought at first he’d been traumatized by his first day, but after several minutes of coaxing he said in a small voice “I didn’t want to leave yet…”

Pre-K has continued to be fun for him every day since.

Martha meets a neighbour

Our cats are strictly indoor-only, but we’ve made exception for them to go out on the deck when it’s nice out, which Martha enjoys a lot. Here she is meeting one of the neighbour’s cats from afar, and possibly learning of the existence of other cats for the first time.

Martha meets the neighbour

(Our neighbours have an ingenious system for allowing their cats outside without letting them stray out of the backyard, consisting of a rope line over the grass to which the cat’s leashes are tethered, allowing them free reign of the yard without getting any farther than the leashes allow.)

Lightning over Halifax

Thunderstorms are rarer up here in NS than they were in DC and VA, so lightning and thunder seem to occasion a lot more comment when they come. I left my GoPro Session out on the porch as a storm passed through this week, and the lightning did not disappoint.

Comet NEOWISE

On a warm July night in Cole Harbour NS, I ventured to a school atop a nearby hill, set up my camera atop a playground slide, pointed it northwest, and with a 15 second exposure, captured Comet C/2020 F3 NEOWISE.

Comet C/2020 F3 (NEOWISE) Wide Angle View

It was small and fuzzy, not visible to the naked eye with the local light glare, and I wasn’t sure if I’d actually capture it, but once you knew what to look for in the long exposure, the comet was unmistakable. See it? Just above the closest house and the swings, left of the tree?

Comet C/2020 F3 (NEOWISE) cropped

JPL orbit diagram for C/2020 F3 NEOWISE. By now the comet is farther out and fading, not to return for another 6,700 years, so I was glad to have been able to catch a clear night while it was still around. Add this to other comets I’ve managed to photograph: C/2014 Q2 Lovejoy and C/2011 L4 PANSTARSS.