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