The View From the Bank

From one Mar­itimer’s van­tage point, the view of the Bay of Fundy is a tonic for the soul.

More of Our Canada - - Contents - By Bar­bara Aris, Port Gre­ville, N. S.

Enor­mous rose bushes sur­round my grand­mother’s white, two­s­torey house, where large pink blossoms pro­vide a haven for bees. The kitchen is a mass of con­fu­sion as adults pre­pare din­ner and catch up on lo­cal gos­sip. How­ever, here, a few hun­dred yards away, it is quiet and serene.

Over­look­ing the calm swells of the mag­nif­i­cent Bay of Fundy, my van­tage point is from the top of an em­bank­ment, or “the bank,” as ev­ery­one calls it. Con­tent­ment reigns as I set­tle into a tiny patch of grass and take a deep breath. Gram says fresh, salt air is just the pre­scribed rem­edy for all that ails you.

The un­be­liev­able vista draws peo­ple like a mag­net. The vast panoramic view, full of nat­u­ral splen­dours, has al­ways been the same… yet changes daily with the weather and ev­ery turn­ing of the tide, teas­ing our cu­rios­ity.

Some days, eerie, ghostly fog­banks ap­pear over the wa­ter and have been known to give the im­pres­sion of a moun­tain­ous land mass or a lost sail­ing ves­sel

search­ing for home­port. Or, oc­ca­sion­ally, a rain squall can be seen as it makes its way up the curv­ing bay.

With each de­par­ture of the world’s high­est tides, the white­capped waters grad­u­ally carve an im­mense, rocky, grey sand­bar from its depths. Twelve hours later, it is com­pletely erased by the re­turn­ing tide, like chalk from a chalk­board. As the world around us shapes the way we live, it is re­as­sur­ing to know that the rhythm of the tide never changes.

Off in the dis­tance, the steady chug­ging of a mo­tor can be heard as a fish­ing boat trav­els up the bay. A pair of white-winged seag­ulls swoop and hover over it, ea­ger for any hand­outs.

As I gaze in peace­ful won­der, my at­ten­tion is drawn to the shore­line as some­one gath­ers sea­weed. Lay­ing it on warm stones be­yond the wa­ter­line, it be­comes a tasty treat called dulse, once it dries thor­oughly. Drift­wood, left be­hind by the tide, has also been gath­ered and stacked like a pyra­mid for a tow­er­ing, evening bon­fire.

Half­way down the grassy, tree-smat­tered in­cline was once a stately, red- and- white light­house. Years ago, it’s pow­er­ful bea­con over­flowed onto a path, light­ing the way for my grand­fa­ther as he re­turned from work in the ship­yards be­low.

Now all signs of the for­merly pros­per­ous ship­yard are gone. For a long time, the grounds were cov­ered with a drab and di­lap­i­dated clus­ter of build­ings. Em­ploy­ing many men, the ship­yard pre­vi­ously had cre­ated an af­flu­ent town with schools, a ho­tel and busi­nesses. From this port emerged nu­mer­ous tall, sleek, wooden sail­ing schooners, built as cargo car­ri­ers and fish­ing ves­sels.

Not long ago, a spec­tac­u­lar three- masted schooner was un­der con­struc­tion. Rest­ing on mas­sive chocks, it loomed over my head, as I kicked my feet through knee- high, castoff wood shav­ings, rich in aromatic smells.

My thoughts are in­ter­rupted as noises en­croach on my seem­ingly se­cluded world. I am joined by an­other observer as, ca­su­ally and qui­etly, a car drives along the gravel road up to the bank. Pres­sures and trou­bles seem to drift away with the tide as we share the pic­turesque spec­ta­cle to­gether. n

A panoramic view of Mi­nas Basin, which is part of the Bay of Fundy.

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