Little fairy ponds

Stream flowing through the site near Porter's Lake, NS (Photo by Sally Hilton/NCC staff)

Stream flowing through the site near Porter's Lake, NS (Photo by Sally Hilton/NCC staff)

November 9, 2023 | by Sally Hilton

There is never a dull moment at the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC). While some staff venture into the field looking for species and monitoring various habitats, others contribute to the action from afar. Everyone has an important role to play in NCC’s nature conservation efforts.

Sally Hilton is the conservation coordinator for Nova Scotia. She handles the securement of land, making it possible for NCC to expand the protection of ecosystems across the province. While Sally isn’t in the field as much as some other NCC employees, she still gets the chance to step into nature every few weeks. Find out why a walk in the woods turned out to be much more magical than she anticipated:

One winter day, Jaimee Morozoff, Nova Scotia’s program director, and I travelled to the site of an Ecogift donation of land. The purpose of the field trip was to examine the property and look for important species, but it turned out to be a much more whimsical experience.

There was a mix of sun and clouds on the mid-January day as we set out to visit a new conservation site in Porters Lake, about 28 kilometres east of Halifax. Jaimee and I were bundled up, as the wind that day had quite the bite, and with the mild winter we’d been having in Nova Scotia, neither of us were used to -7 C. After about 20 minutes of walking up and down the hilly treed property, however, we were soon shedding layers. Once we got to the top of one hill, the forest seemed to change into a beautiful glen covered in thick moss, and we heard the sound of a babbling brook. We gravitated to the running water and were delighted and almost giddy to find a series of little waterfalls that inspired several photo shoots as we travelled upstream.

Little fairy ponds (Photo by Sally Hilton/NCC staff)

Little fairy ponds (Photo by Sally Hilton/NCC staff)

There was significant blowdown, probably due to Hurricane Fiona, but near the stream, water pooled in the vacant holes of upturned roots. As I saw the mossy roots dangling to create a little shelter over what, in my imagination, can only be described as little fairy ponds, I was suddenly filled with child-like whimsy, remembering passed-down tales of Irish fairy folklore from my Poppy Shea.

We would have been happy to stay in that neck of the woods all day, but we had to cover more ground. We found a trail and followed it north with some pep in our step as the beauty of the nature surrounding us inspired smiles, laughs and stories, which brought us closer as friends and colleagues.

This was not our typical workday. We hurdled and climbed over fallen trees, observing their delightful appearances. Jaimee pointed out, “that tree looks like a giant creepy crawly centipede!” with the imagination of one of her young sons. Our mood was downright silly to the point that we literally hugged a tree that stood high and proud like it was the king of the forest.

It was one of those days that clearly proved the wellness effects of exploring nature. We didn’t just get our steps in that day; we went home feeling happy, refreshed and maybe even a little younger. Maybe that forest, with its little waterfalls, fairy ponds and gentle giant trees, had magical qualities.

What I know for sure is that I was excited and inspired to secure this beautiful 97-hectare property so we, and others, can return to find that youthful, playful spirit again.

Editor's note:

Sally and many others at NCC are working tirelessly to ensure that Nova Scotia’s precious landscapes will remain intact and full of wonder. This particular property possessed all the qualities Sally looks for in a potential nature reserve. It was a decent size, had good biodiversity and was located near other conservation areas. This large site was an incredible find, especially since it was so close to Halifax.

If you would like to contribute to NCC’s conservation efforts, visit our donation page here >

Sally HIlton (Photo by Andrew Herygers/NCC staff)

About the Author

Sally Hilton is the Nature Conservancy of Canada's (NCC's) Nova Scotia conservation coordinator. Sally trained as a planning technician at the College of Geographic Sciences in Lawrencetown, Nova Scotia. She has held diverse positions as a cartographer of the Nova Scotia Coastal Water Trail, a land management technician for the regional municipality of Wood Buffalo, Alberta, and a land agent for CanACRE in Ontario, where she worked on land acquisition for wind turbines and other large projects. Sally is very happy and proud to be back in her home province leading securement projects to grow NCC nature reserves across NS.

Read more about Sally Hilton.

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