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Friday, 9 December 2016

Ready?

It was the first storm this season. 

 

Since most of the outside work was done, we were ready. The lights flickered several times and the flashlights, candles and matches were ready too. Electricity was off in a number of areas of the province, but we have a generator in case of an extended power failure. Readiness is second nature to former teachers.

Ready. Such a curious word, read with y attached. Much of life requires readiness, reading the signs and preparing for what's to come. We prepare kits in readiness, first aid, emergency, tool, road kits for the car. Read the signs, prepare, be ready. If only it were that easy.

Life hums along, busy, but more routine with age. The familiar provides comfort, requires little effort in its familiarity. Breakfast at 8, lunch at noon, dinner at 5, bedtime around the same time every night. Familiar meals are on the menu, the treadmill counts out the kilometers each day if we can't get outside. Volunteer work, shopping, friends and family fill the days. 

The phone rings.

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Beach sculpture

We haven't seen the sun much in the last month and the temperatures are hovering around freezing. It is time for a reminder of warmer times and places of natural beauty.

You can find many interesting items on a beach.

 

Some of the most interesting include whitened, weathered tree stumps which are natural sculptures. 

 

Sometimes, a large part of the trunk is still attached.

 

Other times, the sculpture appears stained.


Some sculptures find their way into a fire on the beach.

 

Sometimes, part of the root system is present in an intricate design.


Or, seaweed covers some of the sculpture.

 

Some sculptures stand straight, reaching for the sky.

 

Small trees can become curious sculpture, 


or do you prefer aliens?

 

All you need bring to the beach is your imagination!
 
 
 

Monday, 5 December 2016

Wonderland

"Is that wonderland jam, Nanny?" my three year old granddaughter asks as she waits for the partridgeberry jam for her crackers. Wonderland is what Caitlin calls Newfoundland.

 

"Yes it is," I say as I spread the jam for her and smile. Caitlin doesn't have any memories of Wonderland although she has been there. She was two months old when her mother took her to Corner Brook to see her sick great grandfather. Somehow, in Caitlin's mind, Newfoundland is Wonderland.

 

I know what she means. While I love my current island home, my soul belongs to Wonderland too and this time of year, as Christmas draws near, my thoughts always turn to home.

The people, the rugged landscape, the way of life, are part of my being. It is a place where weather is a conversation piece, where wind predominates and fog, rain and snow are common. You don't visit for the great weather. However, that weather is one of the features which binds the people together, as they fight the elements and struggle in that rugged environment. 

Humour is a way of life too. The people see the lighter side of life and can easily share a joke to ease a burden. We are deeply rooted in our island home. It is said you will know all the Newfoundlanders in heaven. They are the ones who want to go home. 

We are also a friendly, hospitable people as evidenced by the events of September 11, 2001. The people of Gander and other central Newfoundland communities, opened their hearts and homes to passengers of over 30 giant aircraft, forced to land while in route to their destinations in the United States on that fateful day. They landed in Gander, almost doubling the size of the town in one day.

The story of their reception in Gander is now on its way to Broadway as the musical Come from Away. It played in Gander and is on stage now in Toronto, opening in New York in March. It has received rave reviews. 

In the face of some of the worst which humankind can do to one another, there was an example of hope during those tragic days. 

"Yes, Caitlin. There is a wonderland."


Sunday, 4 December 2016

The prose of a tree trunk

When the leaves are gone, tree trunks are exposed and beautiful!

 

They grow to the sky in their own unique ways.


Each has a story

 

 we can read at our leisure!

Friday, 2 December 2016

The view from here


During our recent excursion to Seven Mile Bay, my husband and I observed the bridge from one of the roads to the shore. 

 


As we approached the shore, we saw a paddle boarder out on the water with the bridge as a backdrop. 

 

It was only 9 degrees Celcius that day and one could imagine how cold the water was if should she topple. However, the young woman had no trouble staying upright. My elder self imagined her as a yoga partitioner with a keen sense of balance though her youth probably gave her the physical stability. 

As she paddled, 

 

traffic entered and exited the bridge, including many trucks. She appeared oblivious, peaceful. She had her own place of serenity in the world.

 

Watching her, we were at peace too, a peace unknown in much of the world. It is one of the reasons we love this place.

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Back to nature

A forest is one place where reduce, reuse and recycle are all done in an exemplary manner. Plants, or parts of plants, having lived their span of days or years, decompose into the earth or become a substrate for other organisms to speed up decomposition. All goes back to nature.

Leaves of the deciduous trees never go to waste in a forest. Neither do needles of mature coniferous trees like pine, all of which add to the humus or organic material in the forest floor.

 

Fallen trees or parts of them become homes for moss, which, over time, breaks down the tree, returning it to the earth.

 

Bark mushrooms take their place on trunks of dead or dying trees, breaking them down further as well. 

 

The curious jelly-like slime mold also does its part on old branches and tree trunks. One such mold is called Witch's butter and according to Eastern European legend, if it appeared on one's door or gate, it meant one was targeted by a witch's spell.

 

Animals take advantage of the environment too, as insects invade trees and woodpeckers dig holes in search of them.

 

Then there is Usnea, or Old Man's Beard, which hangs from branches and trunks of old trees. It is a non-plant, consisting of algae and fungi in a mutually beneficial relationship. Its presence in a forest indicates the air is clean since Usnea absorbs pollutants and will die in extreme cases of pollution. Our ancestors used it for its antibiotic and anti-fungal properties and, even today, it is used in emergencies in the forest. 

 

In my youth, I studied biology in university. Over my teaching career, I left teaching science and biology for administration and counselling. This past year, I have come to realize how much I enjoyed biology and missed it. I, too, am back to nature.


Monday, 28 November 2016

Juniper

Tamarack or larch trees are known as juniper trees on Prince Edward Island. Juniper is present throughout the island in mixed forests like the one we visited recently in Breadalbane. Juniper is a deciduous cone bearing tree or conifer, losing its needles in the autumn after they turn a golden colour. 

 

As we walked under some juniper trees, the needles fell on and around us. The ground in those areas was covered in yellow needles.

 

Juniper is the hardest and strongest of the softwoods. It is also resistant to decay and as such is a popular wood for poles, posts and railway ties. There was a time when shipbuilding was big business on the island and juniper was a preferred wood for use in the industry.

 

Another interesting feature of the juniper tree is its intolerance to shade. The trees can grow up to sixty feet in height and in a mixed forest, they must be in the over story or they die. In keeping with their intolerance to shade, junipers prune themselves.

 

One half to two-thirds of the trunks of the tall trees will have empty branches with the needles only on the top portions. 

It is a unique tree and a versatile wood which gives a mixed forest a glorious crown this time of year.