Photos by Jenn Stone.
Everyone loves to go to the beach in the summer when the sun is shining and the air is warm. Most people avoid it in the winter unless, of course, the landscape is in your blood. Lawrencetown Beach is in my blood. It is just over five minutes from my house. It is where my parents took us when we were kids. It is where I often drove to when I learned to drive, arriving with a book and a blanket. It is where I would try to get back to when I lived over twelve hundred miles away, even if just for fifteen minutes while on a trip home. Small beach rocks sometimes journeyed with me when I left.
The eastern shore of Nova Scotia is raw and undeveloped. As far as tourism goes, it is the road less travelled. Lawrencetown Beach is about a twenty-five minute drive outside the city of Halifax along the twisty 207 highway. I honed my driving skills on this road. Almost went into the ditch not far from the beach once a long time ago. Back when my gas foot was heavier than it is nowadays, which must have been pretty heavy cause that foot still isn’t light. The scenery on this patch of road is void of billboards, hotels and restaurants. Parts of it are rugged and natural and breathtakingly beautiful. Walking trails travel the route, weaving in and out from the coast. It is not a place to be taken for granted. It can be beautiful and blue or sometimes lost in the fog. There are days when it is windy and stormy. Waves produced by storms and hurricanes have been known to damage the road. But like many of Nova Scotia’s coastal landscapes, once you visit Lawrencetown Beach, you will never forget it.
Our purpose on this day was to have lunch at The Lawrencetown Beach Cafe. The cafe recently opened to replace a former tea house where JT and I went for tea and scones every year on the last day of school–report card day. The ladies who ran the tea house watched my son grow up and always remembered him and asked about him when he wasn’t in attendance. They had been at the location for a long time but unfortunately had to close due to an illness.
The location is in an old mansion called The MacDonald House that sits upon the cliffs overlooking the ocean. I used to drive by it in the 70’s wishing I could see the inside of it. By the late nineties when I moved back to Nova Scotia, the building, which was once a private residence, had been taken over by the community and I got my wish. It is now a multi purpose space that houses a surf shop, a cafe, an art and craft gallery, a vintage shop and a preschool. How lucky these people are to go to work in such a place.
The new proprietors of the cafe are a younger couple who are personable and love to chat. They have made the space cozier. Added plants, some comfy chairs and a sofa, assorted sized tables and a pop of colour. It is inviting and as always the views are stunning. The Doc and I order a breakfast sandwich and a bowl of sweet potato and squash soup. Everything is organic and homemade from locally sourced ingredients, including the English muffin of our sandwich. Everything is delicious. We eat overlooking the waves like we have done so many times in the past. Then decide to visit the beach.
The temperature outside is somewhat below freezing but we park next to the boardwalk and head towards the surf. The intention is a quick visit. It only takes a quick visit to Lawrencetown Beach in the winter to feel the power and the beauty of the ocean. The waves are bigger and louder as they crash against the beach stones at high tide then pull back making that beautiful echoing sound that I can hear in my head but never find words to describe. There is more spray and the wind is lifting it high above the waves. The surfers are out, at least ten of them in wetsuits, bobbing in the water and riding their boards off the western point, too far out for me to get a good picture. They are there because of these waves. They like the challenge that winter conditions provide. I can only admire their stamina.
The air is crisp and blue, and we can feel it on our faces and in our nostrils and making it’s way through our jeans and the fingers of our gloves. Everything about the beach in winter is a lesson in humility. We did not wear snow pants or long underwear. We are not prepared to be out in these temperatures. Mother Nature is reminding us that this world is bigger and more important than we are. We agree, then turn and run back to the car glad that we made this quick visit because sometimes you just need to put everything back into perspective.
Thanks for reading.
See more of Lawrencetown Beach, although not in winter: