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Friday, 10 July 2020

With the kids

Our three grandchildren spent two days with us recently and it was both fun and exhausting. The kids were excited and my husband and I were rested in anticipation of the increased energy level required.  

We packed a great deal into the two days including time at the playground and splash pad, board games, time in the garden planting and picking produce, walking the dog, art, baking, movie night with popcorn done Nan’s way, a trip to the dairy bar for dessert and walking on the boardwalk. Mealtime sat around talking was always fun. Between mealtime and snacks, these kids are always eating. They love fruit and vegetables though.

The oldest of the three is wide awake, voice engaged, when her feet touch the floor. The other two are slow to start. The middle child, hardly speaks for the first hour, while the youngest is slow to begin but winds up quickly. The three couldn’t be more different. 

One of the highlights of the two days was their time on the boardwalk, feeding the animals. The three were excited to feed the birds and squirrels especially. We put peanuts in the birdhouse on the bridge and the parade of blue jays made quick work of them as they flew off with the shells.

The kids were excited to sit on a bench where we had watched a grandfather and a young grandchild sit and feed the squirrels previously. There weren’t any animals there when we arrived but we tapped on the bench with peanuts and the squirrels soon appeared. 

The three enjoyed passing the peanuts to the furry fast rodents. They soon learned that the squirrels wouldn’t take any peanut shells which were cracked open. After a few minutes, we had distributed a large bag of peanuts to numerous squirrels.

With the girls on their scooters, and the youngest on his balance bike, we continued to the end of the trail. Along the way we spotted four Cedar Waxwings among the dead trees by the harbour. I’ve only ever seen one before along the boardwalk so this was quite a sighting.

My husband and I thoroughly enjoyed the two days with the grandkids. We were both exhausted however, and napped when they left. The house was suddenly quiet but their voices will fill the quiet again soon. Yay!

Wednesday, 8 July 2020

The trails through the green

The trail welcomes you in and the golden grand-dog was eager to go. The leafy bloom of summer is well established and various shades of green urge us onward. We accept the invitation and head into the Rotary Trail.

It is easy to walk here with groomed trails through forest beside farmland. Trails off the main path are designed for mountain bikes. There is plenty of room for anyone who wants to bathe in the green.

Bird song fills the air. We stop periodically to listen and look for the singer but to no avail. The trees hide them well now, creating anonymity for those whose song we don’t recognize. 

An unfamiliar song draws the eye upward and there it is in a dead tree, singing its heart out, visible. On this grey day, the sky provides little contrast but this Red-eyed Vireo allows a photo. 

Each section of the trail draws us onward. Around every turn, the path through another green vista invites passage. My husband and I keep going, through a cave-like opening, where the canopy darkens the path except where a spotlight focuses the eye.

We pass a stand of pine which is showing off its new growth. 

Within a huge stand of deciduous trees the canopy shades the forest floor which is covered green now too. Sarsaparilla and fern love this location. 

The canopy and the green floor create a huge room which mosquitoes love as well. We walk through quickly having forgotten the bug spray.

In more open areas, false baby’s breath

has replaced the lupins of a few weeks ago. 

We walked for an hour then left for home, refreshed in body and spirit.

Monday, 6 July 2020

The way I see it

It was on the ground by the entrance to the bridge as we rounded the bend at seven a.m. Eating bird seed placed by walkers, a huge raccoon darted behind the bridge and peered out between the rails.

“Finally, a raccoon,” I said to my husband as I turned on the camera to take a photo.

We have lived on Prince Edward Island for ten years and had yet to see one. We’d heard about their antics but they hadn’t shown up in our neighbourhood to this point. Nor had we seen them on any of our excursions. Having come from Newfoundland which doesn’t have raccoons, the furry critters were a curiosity to my husband and I and we wanted to see one.

As we approached, the raccoon disappeared beneath the bridge. We paused to look over the stream from the centre of the bridge and the animal appeared again, climbing the railing to the top of the bridge to eat the birdseed left by walkers for the regulars.

My husband and I watched for the longest time. It was the huge raccoon, with the distinctive eye mask and striped tale we had only ever seen in photos. It watched us but didn’t mind our presence and kept eating.

Several times other walkers approached and it disappeared behind the bridge again, only to appear as the walker proceeded past. We alerted anyone who happened by about the masked visitor. Many reported no interest in the raccoon because of negative encounters at home where bird feeders are raided and must be taken in each night. They complained about the mess the creatures make. We decided the best place for raccoons was along the boardwalk not in our neighbourhood.

People can have such varied perceptions of the same thing which is certainly the case for many things in the world today. It is important to listen to each other and keep an open mind. Who knows, we may learn to appreciate the other’s viewpoint and expand our world view. The least we can do is treat each other with respect.

Meanwhile, maybe we can view that raccoon with the wonder of two seniors seeing one for the first time. 

Friday, 3 July 2020

Enjoying the cove

Low tide is special at Canoe Cove. There are numerous tidal pools which provide ample opportunity for exploration and discovery. 

My husband and I recently accompanied our daughter and the three grandkids there and we had a great day. It started with a picnic. Social distancing isn’t a problem there.

Along the beach, starfish were a big hit with the kids. The purple stars, 

some tiny but all small, were the first starfish the children had ever seen and they were so excited. We found some of them on the damp sand waiting for high tide, so they gently scooped up the little stars and placed them back in the water. 

Hermit crabs were a huge hit as well. We saw an occasional tiny crab looking for a new shell. The children watched the small creatures and wished them well in their search for a new home. The beach had lots of remnants of crabs and we even found one big enough for dinner but let it go.

The exposed sand had holes where we found razor clams if we dug deep enough. We also found soft shell clams and bar clams.

We have never dug clams for food but intend to do so this summer. These clams were put back in the sand. I can imagine a time when clam digging was an important part of the food supply for many islanders.

Meanwhile, the Bank Swallows were darting around the cove as well, but unlike the last time we visited, people stayed away from the area of their nests. Consequently, the birds went to and from the nests for the entire time we were there.

A small flock of cormorants, accompanied by a few gulls, relaxed on the only rocks visible in the sandy cove. 

They periodically dived in the water, resurfacing far from their point of entry, eventually returning to the rock where they spread their wings to dry their feathers. 

Our grandchildren enjoyed the day and we will return before long. Story time that night was about the animals along the beach. Now the oldest child reads to the other two and the middle child has begun to read to her younger brother as well. Sigh...time like the tide waits for no one.

We will enjoy the cove while we can.

Wednesday, 1 July 2020

Joy of early morning

We always start a walk at the gazebo. It overlooks the saltwater marsh and the stream which empties into the Summerside Harbour. There are usually ducks in the stream or hidden among the reeds and wheatgrass. 

However, other feathered friends often drop by the area and spotting and observing them are always pleasant for my husband and I. Our early morning outings now, ahead of the heat later in the day, always start off with avian-induced smiles.

The chattering male Red-winged Blackbirds are always about,

flying amongst the reeds and trees. Occasionally, a female leaves her nesting duty and feeds in an area where she is visible. 

European Starlings congregate in the part of the stream which empties into the Summerside Harbour.

We see them later on the bridge overlooking the area.

Most of the time, Common Grackles dart around too quickly for me to photograph. This one was the exception 

and later it met up with some friends for a chat in a nearby tree.

Over a period of two weeks, I tried unsuccessfully to take a good photo of a Sora. Then early one clear morning, after numerous attempts, my husband took some great photos of the fast moving bird. I finally took a photo which shows its white crinoline.

That same morning, I saw a Killdeer for the first time. We see plovers on the beach every year but the Killdeer has always escaped us. It was camouflaged amongst the straw and other plant material in the stream but I managed a digital capture.

The ducks always interest us as well. There are Mallards and American Black Ducks living in the saltwater marsh these days. One morning, we could hear a duck among the reeds and wheatgrass long before we saw it. When the ducks appeared, one Black Duck was the source of the quacking but others weren’t thrilled with it and several chased after it. It persisted. You can hear that persistent duck here. 

“Don’t let anyone keep you from uttering your truth Ducky, “ I said as we turned to leave.

Watching birds is a great way to begin any day.


In my last post, David at  asked about Piping Plovers at Cabot Beach.

On Prince Edward Island, there is a concerted effort to encourage nesting of Piping Plovers. Where the birds are known to nest, areas on the beaches are cordoned off to allow the birds to nest without interference. To my knowledge, Cabot Beach has never been such an area. 

Monday, 29 June 2020

An island beach experience

It was overcast and breezy but the humidity of earlier in the week had disappeared and taken the heat warning with it. It was time for a beach day with our family and the golden grand-dog, Georgie. We packed our picnic lunch and joined them at Cabot Beach. 

We arrived in time for lunch in the picnic area where we were the only people present. After some time in the playground, we went to the beach where we added to the less then twenty people there for the day. As soon as we set up, the sun came out and the breeze made the heat bearable.

Our grandchildren love the beach and spend their time digging in the sand and swimming. They entertain themselves leaving the adults to keep a watchful eye and time to relax. My husband and I always bring umbrellas to the beach to provide the shade which we prefer.

While we walked the beach, Georgie walked in the water with our daughter and the kids. She was satisfied for five minutes then whined for us, firmly planted in one spot watching us so we took her with us.

There were bank swallows flying around one part of the beach but their nests weren’t in this area. The shoreline takes a huge hit from erosion every year now 

which causes sand to build up in the boat passage to the wharf in Malpeque. Dredging the channel is on-going again this year.

Marram grass has filled the upper part of the beach but the dunes have taken a hit over the past year.

 Driftwood far up the beach has weathered resting in the sand.

One of the things I love about this beach is the sight of the fishing vessels mere meters from the beach goers. The boats take care entering the dredged channel and many signal greetings to the beach goers as they pass. 

Meanwhile, near the entrance of the boat channel, a school of fish churn up the water, attracting the attention of the gulls. 

The fish are probably gaspereau, an Acadian name for alewife, a type of herring which move back and forth between salt and fresh water. They are moving upstream from the waters around Prince Edward Island to reproduce.

The interaction of nature, industry and people is interesting to observe in this place.

Thursday, 25 June 2020

Early morning in the fog

It’s been hot and humid so my husband, the golden grand-dog and I hit the boardwalk by seven a.m. because it’s too hot later in the day. Fog in the harbour changes the appearance of the trail through the familiar location. The fog and the early hour make for an interesting walk.

From the bridge over the stream, the gazebo is shrouded in fog.

The harbour is invisible in the distance and a Song Sparrow stands on a barren twig beside the barely visible sea. 

However, the animals are active and on the move.

In the stream, several moulting male Mallards are swimming around in the early morning mist.

A Sora which is visiting the area,

isn’t among the bulrushes this morning but its location in the fog doesn’t result in a great photo either.

The Red Squirrels are active this morning, playful really as they chase each other around the trees.

Three woodpeckers punctuate the misty air with their drilling around a broken tree trunk.

Everyone has the same idea when it’s hot and humid.