Thursday, August 9, 2012

heather sees sea heather down by the sea shore

Now before botanists correct me, yes, this is technically sea lavender (Limonium carolinianum to be precise) also known as marsh rosemary or statice.  But in our house it's sea heather and that's all there is to it!

Could there be a better way to pick wildflowers than guiding silently along shore in a kayak? I'm a lifelong Grand Manan-er but it's only been in the past five years or so that I've discovered sea heather. My childhood home was in a different part of the island from where my parents live now and the conditions weren't right for this flower which grows in profusion in and near salt marshes.
From midsummer to early autumn clouds of sea heather rise from the marshy shores.
Kayaking along the coast at high tide is a favourite activity for my dad and me and once the sea heather starts to bloom its lovely to glide along and pluck it from the shore.  Beautiful when freshly picked, it also dries very well making it a perfect choice for a centrepiece or wreath.  In 2008, we hosted a family reunion at my parents' place and I made table arrangements of mason jars full of sea heather.  Four years later, I still have mine on display.   One word of warning, because the sea heather is often partially submerged by the ocean it will absorb some of the smell of the ocean floor so depending on where you pick it, it can be a little pungent.  I find a little time out in the fresh air takes care of that though.
Sea heather partially underwater at high tide.
A note on the pitcher featured at the top of the page.  It came from the Mavourneen a barque out of Yarmouth, NS which sank off the coast of Grand Manan in October 1866 and now rests under 85 feet of water off Bradford's Cove (all crew saved!).  My father, a nautical historian and underwater archaeologist, dove on the wreck many times and brought the pitcher up in 1973.  It's lived in our house every since.  I can't lie - I was a little nervous to do these photos as I had visions of smashing an artifact that had survived a shipwreck! 

Dad on the Mav wreck in 1973 (a few feet from where the pitcher was found) and his rendering off the wreck on the ocean floor.

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