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I spent part of the Canadian Thanksgiving weekend in Mahone Bay and Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, reading, writing, and taking pictures. (And buying books, at two wonderful independent bookstores, The Biscuit Eater in Mahone Bay and Lexicon Books in Lunenburg….) Here’s what Mahone Bay looked like on Sunday afternoon.

"Listening Carefully and Watching Intently"

I hadn’t been there since last December, when I took this picture of the calm water and the pale pink sky.

"Listening Carefully and Watching Intently"

When I got home, I read Sandra Barry’s poem “Thanksgiving,” which is a meditation on grief and hope, and I was struck by the beauty and simplicity of these lines in the last stanza:

I promise I will listen

carefully; I will watch


All through 2016, Sandra has been sending a poem a week to her subscribers via email, and I always look forward to reading her work. She’s the author of Elizabeth Bishop: Nova Scotia’s “Home-Made” Poet, and she writes about Bishop at the Elizabeth Bishop Centenary blog. (If you’re interested in subscribing to Sandra’s Monday morning poems, let me know in the comments below and I’ll put you in touch with her.)

Sandra’s words about listening and watching have echoed in my mind ever since I first read them, and I know I’ll continue to think of her poem as I listen and read and watch and attempt to capture what I’m thinking about or looking at, whether through writing or photography.

A few photos of Lunenburg:

"Listening Carefully and Watching Intently"

"Listening Carefully and Watching Intently"

"Listening Carefully and Watching Intently"

And I’ll conclude by quoting Sandra again, this time from one of her emails: “We so desperately need to see, capture, express the beauty of this deeply troubled world—it is one important way to keep active the good energy, to balance out the darker stuff that seems legion.”

All photos © Sarah Emsley, 2016.

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