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Friday, 6 December 2019

The sounds through the trees

Our walks on the trails this time of year are predominated by the grey trunks of the trees which stand majestically along the paths. While colour is lacking, my husband and I sometimes feel compensated by the sounds we hear through the trees.

Tractors are a curiosity, many still busy in the fields, completing the last of the ploughing before the ground is frozen. It is a challenge to take a photo of a tractor through the trees although their colour helps.

Previously ploughed fields are alive with the sounds of crows and gulls. They are obvious overhead but we need a gap in the trees to see them feeding from the rich red soil. They make their unique calls to others of their kind as we watch and listen. The haunting cry of the gulls stirs up memories of salty beaches while the caw of the crows sounds utilitarian by comparison.

The most pleasant sound is that of a squirrel and its rhythmic squeaking from among the grey branches along the trail. “It’s in there somewhere,” I say as we search its location. 

“There it is,” my husband says after several minutes as he points to where the tiny creature is sitting in the grey menagerie.

Can you find it?

Answer to a question from a previous post:

From the post about Red squirrels, Joanne at asked “Do squirrels feed from those cones over winter?”

The red squirrels collect cones and place them in a pile called a midden where they add the discarded bracts as well. The squirrels collect enough cones in the midden to last all winter and beyond in many cases.

Tuesday, 3 December 2019

On the Rotary trails

One of our recent walks in the Rotary Friendship Park was on a rare sunny day. It was such a relief to be outdoors enjoying the fresh air again after a week cooped up inside. The  footprints of both humans and animals who had gone before froze overnight.

The walls of grey trunks around us reached their filamentous extensions overhead in many places, creating an arch against the blue. 

The path ahead led to the unknown. 

Downed trees were reduced to firewood in some places.

Remnants of farm life which cultivated this soil years ago hung from the trees, leaking memories.

Ploughing had finished on this field with a border of bare soil around the perimeter. I have never seen this pattern before.

Georgie, the golden grand-dog, always enjoys meeting new friends on the trails.

A pond along the way has begun to freeze. Before long it will resemble a skating rink. 

The trail passes fenced-in farmland in places which was a nice change from the walls of grey.

It was invigorating to be on the trails again.

Monday, 2 December 2019

Second thoughts

Recently I wrote about the day my husband and I spent at the hospital with a friend. That day made me think about a number of issues and some of your responses to the post, A glimpse, added to those. 

When we were at the hospital, it was obvious seniors were the vast majority of users of the facilities. As we age, our bodies wear and our use of medical services increases obviously. Sitting there, I wondered what health issues will bring my husband and I into the services. We have been fortunate thus far in staying away from the medical system except for maintenance services. How much longer can that continue?

While we may have support of family and friends as we face health challenges, ultimately we face these challenges alone, including the end of our lives. The experiences of life prepare us to handle these challenges. While death is solitary, the love of those who have touched our lives which may include God, carries us through to the end and beyond if that is our belief.

Linda at in response to the post wrote how a health issue in her family, when she was raising four young children, left her with a $12,000 debt after insurance. This is unimaginable to me. I take our income tax supported medicare system for granted. We do not rely on insurance to cover our major medical costs, they are covered by funding from the government. While I complain about waiting times to see specialists, a government funded Medicare system is a gift many don’t enjoy in other countries. That’s not to say our system couldn’t be improved, but we usually don’t go bankrupt or into debt for medical procedures.

My husband and I have medical and dental insurance so our regular health costs, such as prescriptions or treatments, such as physiotherapy, are minimal. For example, our prescriptions costs $3.10. Our monthly premiums are reasonable and continued into retirement. However, we know people who cannot afford their prescriptions which affects their health for certain. We need a pharmacare program in this country.

I live my life with gratitude which makes me a happy person for the most part. However, the experience of the hospital for a day made me realize, in a tangible way, that any day my husband and I are out on the trails or enjoying our picnics, there are many people going through health issues in the various hospitals around the island. Consequently, reasons for gratitude have multiplied and reinforced my drive to stay healthy as long as I can. At the same time, it has made me realistic in knowing that aging is a process of deterioration and decline. I hope to face it with courage and strength.

There are many wonderful health professionals in this country who give us the best of their ability and while not perfect, our hospitals are good facilities which are well maintained.

Even on the worst day of one person’s life, another person may be having one of their best. Life is a cycle and we have our turn with all aspects of it. We hope to have more good than bad but having the strength to deal with whatever comes makes the journey an interesting challenge.

Thank you everyone for your comments.

Thursday, 28 November 2019

Red squirrels

The Bonshaw Trails were spread out before us as my husband and I left  the picnic area and headed into the woods. Meters from the park, we heard a squirrel high in the trees. We stopped to catch a glimpse of the creature which sounded as if it was scolding us. When we looked up, a cone dropped from the trees to our feet.

An enterprising red squirrel was cutting cones from the conifers. The ground around us was littered with them. Later it would gather them for its winter supply. These little squirrels are some of our favourite little creatures.

On the boardwalk in Summerside, some squirrels will feed from your hand. They love peanuts in the shell and will run off with them, squirrelling them away for later. Sometimes they are hungry enough to break one open for a meal while you watch.

This autumn we saw a red squirrel with a mouthful of straw for its nest.

They don’t hibernate but remain active all winter.

Our golden grand-dog thinks she can catch any squirrel which crosses our path. If she is not tethered, she runs after every rodent for a few seconds before it scampers into the woods.

We witnessed the tenacity of these little creatures when some walkers left seeds on the boardwalk where one little squirrel was active. A crow flew in to feast on the seed, only to be scared off by the tiny squirrel. The bird squawked as it flew off. It met its match in the tiny creature.

Sometimes the rodents are mere silhouettes among the trees, especially in areas where people are not feeding them. 

We enjoy their antics everywhere we encounter them.

Wednesday, 27 November 2019

A glimpse

We sat in the main entrance of the hospital, surrounded by fellow seniors. Seniors volunteer at the information desk, and help direct people unfamiliar with the registration process. Notably, seniors are the majority of the people who have business at the hospital as well.

At registration, where you take a number, every wicket opened as patients checked in for procedures that day. We waited for the number to be called as the seats filled up around us, everyone needing directions to the appropriate clinic. Among those checking in, a child, young adults and middle aged people looked out of place.

Listening to the conversations around us, some like my husband and I, waited with a friend who had an appointment that day. People spoke of pain and its management, doctors they liked and didn’t, wait times in spite of appointments. Some sat alone and waited quietly. Several people used canes as friends linked into them, everyone eager to get on with the day.

We sat in several areas during the day. Young people had day surgery while family members waited. A roomful of grey heads occupied the eye clinic. The cancer clinic embraced people of various ages. A family waited excitedly as a young mother gave birth just as we had done when our first grandchild was born. In the chapel several people sat in quiet thought or prayer.

By supper time, the registration area and the various clinics and collection areas had emptied out. Patients left in wheelchairs, with patched eyes, casts on legs and arms in slings. A construction worker limped to a waiting vehicle. Otherwise, as earlier in the day, most were seniors, accompanied by fellow seniors or younger family members.

A day spent in a hospital watching the proceedings gave me pause. 

Sunday, 24 November 2019

A bovine serenade

We stopped to take some photos of St. Peter’s Island off the south central shore of Prince Edward Island.

When I exited the car, I noticed the young cattle in the adjacent field.

A bucket list moment presented itself.

Maybe you’ve see the videos. Someone approaches a field of cattle and begins to sing. I have always wanted to try it.

I didn’t have the courage to video the scene since my singing is nothing special. However, I summoned up my best soprano vocals and began to sing an impromptu song for the bovine audience. On other humans were around other than my husband. He doubted my sanity so he stayed in the car.

The funny thing was, the cattle did react and I took photos. 

When I started singing, several of them looked up and a few moved down opposite where I was located. Over the next few minutes, as I continued to sing,

cattle which had been minding their own business, looked towards me,

then stood up and moved to join the others opposite me.

Some farmers play music for their milk cows to soothe them. These cattle looked relaxed enough but it must be boring for them in the field day after day. Does the serenade break the boredom for the bovines?

You know I have to do it again! We don’t want bored cows on the island.

Friday, 22 November 2019

A scad of snow

We had snow overnight and the air was cold but without any wind. It was a fall morning when you could see your breath but conditions were perfect for a walk along the Rotary Friendship Park.

In Newfoundland vernacular, this amount of snow qualifies as a scad. It was just enough snow to highlight the landscape along the trail.

There are a few trees which have held their leaves in spite of the strong winds we have had for the last two months. 

The branches overhead draw the eye skyward.

A picnic table nearby won’t be hosting too many picnics this morning.

The trail between the fields kept us going on and on into the distance. 

By the end of our walk, the snow was melting. It was an invigorating walk with just enough snow for a taste of winter.