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Monday, 20 March 2023

One frosty morning

My morning routine which includes opening the blinds as I prepare for the day was more interesting recently because of what was happening outside. Over a period of ten minutes, I watched frost forming on the trees across the street and in the back yard. Hoarfrost is nature using her invisible paintbrush to whiten the world as moisture condenses directly to ice in freezing temperatures. My husband and I decided to walk early since the sun, which is gaining strength, would make quick work of the frost.

We stopped at a nearby, tree-lined street to see how the magic from Mother’s paintbrush had finished the scene just minutes prior.

Walking under the trees, the sun was already melting the ice and frosty bits fell around and on us. However, the blue sky background attempted to make every frosty molecule stand out before they melted away.

This scene near one of the homes drew my eye

as did the long frosty fingers on this tree.

At the boardwalk, our usual haunt, the air was still and the vegetation along the walkway had accumulated some of nature’s magic too.

Rose hips, which survived winter’s onslaught thus far, had frosty beards on the frost-ward side.  


My favourite photo of the day was the Queen Anne’s Lace which we enjoy in the fields and lining the walkways in summer and fall. How the skeletal remains of the plants survived post tropical storm Fiona and winter’s blast are amazing feats. Yet there they stand on this frosty morning, shadows of their former selves but beautiful nonetheless.

There is a lesson for us there!

Sunday, 12 March 2023

Along the Grand River

Every winter we visit the Grand River area of Prince Edward Island to see the birds who frequent the area when cold winds and diminished light are the norm. 

Across the water, the community of Bayside rests along the river, its yellow church, St. Patrick’s, standing proud along the shoreline. It was so windy that day, it was hard to keep the camera steady for a photo.

Meanwhile, in the areas of open water on the river, Goldeneyes were plentiful, the Barrow’s species, with the white teardrop on their faces more numerous than the Common species with the white circle. Also present were Mergansers and Gulls which we see year round.

We made our pilgrimage to St. Patrick’s too, or the bumblebee church as I call it. 

The farmland of Prince County spreads out around the church on both sides of the river.

It is obvious that snow machines were crossing the ice. They won’t be able to do that much longer as the temperatures hover near zero.

I took a picture to capture three trees standing proud in the winter sunlight. The colours, which may be from the camera lens, made a curious addition to the scene.

The tree trunks were almost as colourful!

On the way back around Grand River I saw this head above the guardrail as we drove by. 

We stopped to see these domestic geese by the side of the road along the river. They are accustomed to people and hardly moved when I stopped to photograph them.

Before long the snow will be gone and the Goldeneyes will too. I heard recently that the Barrow’s are an endangered species. I wish them well on their travels the rest of this year!

Saturday, 25 February 2023

Canada Winter Games 2023

We left by 8 a.m. to arrive in Charlottetown an hour before the start of games of the day and bought tickets for the women’s individual trampoline competition. One of our granddaughters began gymnastics this past year and was particularly interested in the competition. All of the children were excited to attend the games.

When we settled into the stands at the right of the Eastlink centre, the practice jumps were underway. The kids were fascinated with the set-up, the trampolines, the teams, the height achieved by the competitors. 

Then we moved to the left side where the competition was held.

Two trampolines, the judges, 

the flags representing the provinces and territories of Canada were in place as the first of two groups of nine competitors warmed up after the national anthem.

The stands on our side of the centre were full of supporters of the various teams. Sadly Prince Edward Island did not have any gymnasts in the competition but since we are people of eastern Canadian islands, we cheered for Newfoundland and Labrador. However we really cheered for everyone as did all of the spectators.

The height achieved by the competitors on the trampoline was impressive, some getting as high as the lights behind them on the opposite side of the centre. 

With the height, competitors also needed control to stay on the white part of the trampoline while doing spins, flips and twirls. These girls were fearless!

Our granddaughters were fascinated with the competition. Our five year old grandson was interested but became squirmy after an hour or so. His comment, “I’m here for the lunch,” summed it up for him. He enjoyed seeing Wowquis, pronounced Whoa-quis, the mascot for the games. The name is the Mi’kmaq* name for red fox. 

I was interested in watching the audience too. Lots of grandparents were in attendance, their grey hair shining under the lights. 

While their descendants competed, you could see the tension, then joy as their young women completed their routines. The seniors erupted in cheers as did the provincial groups such as this group of Nova Scotians. 

We sat among Newfoundlanders, Quebecers and Saskatchewanians.

Some competitors in these games will go on to represent Canada at various sports in other competitions. Some, like Heather Moyse from Summerside, Prince Edward Island, may win gold medals at the Olympics. Heather won her medals in bobsled though she competed in track at the Canada Games in the 1990s.

However, all of the 3600+ athletes in this competition are already winners, in their own provinces but in many other ways too. Their discipline, hard work and sportsmanship will hold them in good stead for a lifetime. And besides, imagine the fun!

*Mi’kmaq are the First Nations people of Prince Edward Island, or as they called it, Abegweit, land cradled in the waves.


Well done, young women!

Sunday, 19 February 2023

Notes from the isle 2023

For the next two weeks, Prince Edward Island is hosting the Canada Winter Games. The games highlight the best of the country’s young talent in twenty sports, such a skiing and gymnastics. Communities around the province are hosting the competitions in wonderful facilities brought to or improved in those areas in preparation for the games. For its geographic size and population, this little province has top notch sport venues. We have facilities here which some areas of the country can only dream of. We hope to take in some of the competitions later this week with our family since school is closed during the games. Our grandchildren are excited to see some of the competitions and my husband and I are happy to share the experience with them.

We recently looked at some condos for sale in our area. While we enjoy our home, the snow, after the plow has cleared the driveway, is becoming too much for us. We liked the condos but aren’t ready to leave the house yet. That time will come and at least we are thinking about it now.

Meanwhile I have begun getting rid of things I don’t use any more. I had items used for flower arranging, such as floral foam and candle holders. I offered everything free on-line but no takers came forward. Now the landfill is getting them. In addition, I am trading some books at a wonderful second hand bookstore in the community and will make the store a “must stop by” place in the future.

My husband and I each had the latest Covid shot last month and the flu shot in November. We hope to travel this year but travel plans now feel tentative, especially after having had to cancel a family trip the night before we were scheduled to leave three years ago. Thank you Covid! A change of scenery would be lovely this year since the last three years we have stayed close to home. 

We rented Britbox for a few months this winter. I really enjoyed the detective series and was impressed with the scarcity of guns as weapons in the programs. I especially enjoyed the series Shetland and replayed some scenes several times to understand the Scottish accents. An episode or two was a great way to spend a winter evening. 

I was reminded of 1979, when my husband and I went on a camping vacation with his parents and another couple. We left Newfoundland and travelled around the Maritimes of eastern Canada and into Maine.

We saw a police officer directing traffic at an intersection in rural Maine. He had a gun strapped to his hip which I had never seen before. At that time, the local police, the Newfoundland Constabulary, at home did not carry guns. I was shocked to see one in such a location even on a police officer. All these years later, I still remember the shock of that sight. Even today, guns are not as common in Canada as they are in the United States. 

Finally, this has been an unusual winter, warmer than normal, with only two cold days with windchill in the -40s. Our temperatures, even at night, haven’t been bitterly cold. What does this mean for the future for the children? One can only wonder!

The photos included in this post I took on milder days last week. As daylight increases and the sun strengthens, I have a spring in my step as meteorological spring approaches.

Sunday, 12 February 2023

Dusk on the bay

A cold late afternoon in early February drew me out to the boardwalk in Summerside. I’d been waiting for that perfect window when the air was still and the sky was clear. I was wrong about the clear part. When I arrived by the bay, the sun had disappeared into a cloud bank, but the blue of dusk felt magical.

The bay, after many false alarms, is finally frozen this winter. I’ve watched daily for the progression of the ice in the bay but it wasn’t until the arctic blast in the -20s C and colder for two days, that the bay froze and stayed that way. Now it is snow covered. The convergence of white from land and sea always gives me pause. Snow is the great equalizer.

There were few vehicles in the car park since sunset is around 5:30 pm now and most people are home or headed there. It was quiet on the boardwalk and in the distance, the lighthouse did its job, but looked no brighter than a flashlight amid the remains of the day. Then I heard crows in the distance.

I headed west along the boardwalk towards the sound. I could see the black shapes on the bay, hundreds of them. Other crows flew in from various directions and landed where they were greeted by other birds. Then they broke into small groups. They looked like friends meeting up at the end of the day to socialize.

At the first bridge, I paused and observed for a time. Some birds congregated on the rock revetments 

while others had a drink at the outflow from the sewage treatment plant. Eventually they started to fly away again, groups flying off in different directions into Summerside. Some landed in the nearby trees first and left from there. 

As I walked back towards the car, they flew overhead on their way to their places of rest.

A visit to photograph a sunset turned into another birding experience. Yay!

Sunday, 5 February 2023

Winter beach

A walk on the beach in winter is a welcome distraction. Of course it is easier on a windless day which is what we did. My husband and I drove to the north central shore in the national park on Prince Edward Island but beach access is limited this year. Much of the damage to the park has not been repaired since the destruction of Fiona. Also this year, the Gulf of St. Lawrence hasn’t frozen around the coastline of the island. The ice would prevent much of the erosion in winter. Therefore, the shoreline is unprotected thus far this winter and more erosion is a concern. However, one of the few areas where one can access the beach is at North Rustico. 

It was a cold day but without the wind, one could dress for the temperature. There were a few people on the beach, but gulls were the main attraction. 

They provided the beach music, that call so familiar in a maritime setting.

Along the beach, at the high tide mark, the foam was frozen. 

Seaweed strewn across the beach was stiff from the cold. 

Driftwood cast a shadow in the winter light.

Even the rocks looked petrified. 

An occasional feather made one wonder if a bird missed the insulation the feather would afford.

A stream crossed the beach, rushing to meet the Gulf of St. Lawrence. 

Old weathered pylons from what could have been a wharf cross the stream. In the distance summer cottages wait for the heat which always brings visitors. 

Later, we visited the old fisherman, frozen in the North Rustico Harbour this time of year. 

Along the north shore, the coastline showed the icy touch of winter on the cliffs and rocks.

On our way home, we drove through the community of Stanley Bridge where the Stanley River is frozen. On the ice a Bald Eagle was scanning the area.

I took some photos from the car which it didn’t appear to mind as it stayed there the longest time. I wish it had let me know when it was taking flight so I could have had a better shot of its length. However, its feet and claws were well exposed in this shot and one can well imagine how this bird catches its food.

And it’s only six weeks to spring!