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Saturday, 26 November 2022

The golden

Our beloved grand-dog, Georgie, died on Thursday, after a short illness. She was fading over the last few weeks and deafness had limited her life somewhat. She died of cancer according to the vet.




Though her family is devastated, we want to remember the joy Georgie brought to our lives.





Just about every photo of the family taken over Georgie’s lifetime, she photo-bombed. She never missed out on an event and was always around the kids, in the background, if not the foreground of every photo. She was happiest around the family and was great with kids which all of us where when we were with Georgie.





With my husband and I, she loved walks around the Bonshaw Hills, where, on days without many hikers, she could run back and forth between us on the trail. 





If she was walking with the leader, she always made sure the trailing person was okay and not far behind. She broke land speed records running back and forth.


On the boardwalk, we always walked slowly with Georgie to allow her to sniff for her nose’s pleasure. She also loved the squirrels and chipmunks and always stopped to watch them, or try to catch one. 





The golden always stopped to wait for me when I was behind taking photos too. She looked after her pack.


Georgie loved any time we walked on a beach with her. We always let her run into the water, where she splashed and jumped for joy, like a small child. 




She soaked us when she shook out her long golden fur.


Being a true island girl, Georgie love that red sand too. Imagine cleaning that fur after she rolled in the sand.





And speaking of fur, it was everywhere. She really required daily brushing and major brushing and clipping regularly. You could stuff pillows with it. Her furry legacy will be with us for a while under furniture or stuck to pads under table and chair legs.





The car was one of Georgie’s favourite places. She sat in the back seat, on her blanket, looking out between the seats at the road. She was excited to see where we were going and always recognized a dairy bar when we stopped at one. Georgie loved the soft serve ice cream and always had one of her own.





At our house, her mat with treats inside was rolled up on the floor of the kitchen when she arrived. She ran there first, unrolled the mat, ate the treats, then came to find us.


Also at our house with the kids when Newfoundland music was playing for a few scuffs, as Newfoundlanders refer to dancing, Georgie was in the middle of everything. Within a minute, she was up on her hind legs. I’d hold her front paws and she’d dance with us. She loved having a few scuffs as much as any of us.


In our family room, she had a special place on the couch, with a blanket over her spot to collect the golden hair. If we didn’t have the blanket on the couch when she went in that room, she’d stand in front of us, looking at us, then at her spot, at us, then her spot, until we put out her blanket.


 


We always played Find the Treat with Georgie after supper. She’d wait as we hid treats around the adjoining rooms and she’d hunt them down on command. Every evening after supper, she’d stand in front of us, staring at us until we played with her.


Georgie gave great comfort if we were sad. Shortly after we moved to Prince Edward Island, my last remaining family member of my father’s generation, my Aunt Angela, died. Georgie was there when I was crying and she put her head on my lap and stayed there for the longest time. She sensed the feelings and responded to it.


The golden can’t provide physical comfort through this current sadness but these memories help. She’s gone on ahead!





Goodbye, sweet Georgie! 

Thursday, 24 November 2022

The bully in the marsh

Over the last several years, I have come to enjoy bird watching. The variety of niches they inhabit, colour, patterns and song I find fascinating. To sit on a rock by the bay and quietly blend into the environment so the shorebirds land there is exciting yet calming to my spirit. This time of year, with the shorebirds gone south, American Black Ducks in the salt marsh are interesting to watch. 





Much of the time these birds look like they are smiling. 





However, recently none of the birds had reason to smile since a bully was ruling the roost, or rather…marsh. One day we watched, the same male chased several birds across the water in the marsh, making an aggressive quacking sound as he went. 





The speed with which the birds could scuttle across the water almost made flight unnecessary. 





However, most of the pursued birds eventually took to wing and the bully did too. Both quickly returned to the water though.





He pursued one bird into the bulrushes where it stayed for a few minutes. 





Others decided to hang out amid the bulrushes and eventually the bully left them alone.





Meanwhile two birds were oblivious to the bully’s antics. They kept their heads in the marsh and left the other to his vices. He ignored them.





The next day, it was quieter in the marsh when we visited. 





However more recently, on a day when the marsh was flooded by gale force winds at high tide, one of the ducks, again a male, wasn’t playing nicely!





We always wonder, as we approach the gazebo, what the ducks are doing that day. As the marsh and later the bay freeze, the ducks will disappear from the area until spring break-up. Open water at the head of the bay will be their home for a few months. Meanwhile, we will enjoy their presence in the ever changing salt marsh.


 


 

Sunday, 20 November 2022

Exploring the southwest shore

My husband and I have thoroughly enjoyed our exploration of the southwest shore of Prince Edward Island this autumn. One of our recent excursions took us to Howard’s Cove, a natural cove which is now a boat basin. In the many areas of exposed shoreline on the island, boat basins have been built to offer protection to fishers, their boats and gear. At Howard’s Cove, the natural protection afforded by the little cove was developed into a boat basin for the area.





There is a tiny light, not quite a house,





which overlooks the cove where three feathered sentinels were on watch that day. 





Nearby, weathering of the red sandstone cliffs along the shoreline have resulted in a sea stack which is a sentinel of the earthy kind, albeit a slowly disappearing one.





A trail runs across the western edge of the shoreline from the lighthouse and we followed as far as muddy conditions would allow. Lobster pots look to have found a winter home along the trail. We will return! Such a shoreline trek is among my favourites.





We drove further along the shore until near Miminegash, we heard a pond full of Canada Geese above the radio in the car with closed windows. They called us to stop for a look and listen.





In Miminegash, another boat basin is positioned along the shoreline, this one has a damaged run into the basin. 





It was busy in the basin so we proceeded further along the coast, looking for access to the beach. We drove down Shore Rd and weren’t disappointed as the road ended at the shoreline and our little table once again came in handy.


Our lunch of beef stew as we sat by the stream that crossed the beach was delicious! As we ate, five shorebirds entertained us with their antics as they fed along the water’s edge. 





The three Semipalmated Plovers were easy to identify but the other two, not so much. Surely those five have headed south by now!


My husband and I headed in opposite directions to explore the beach after lunch. The erosion on this beach is dramatic, as two layers of red earth erode at different rates. It may have something to do with the amount of water which flows over the embankment. 





And don’t those bird houses stand out?


Waterfalls are a rarity on the island and a trickle down a bank is an unusual sight especially with faces shaped by the water.





Off-shore, I saw a black bird I thought was a cormorant bobbing around in the water. Looking at the photos later, it was obviously a non breeding Common Loon, a first for me.





While we were walking, a crab boat came from the west and we watched with interest as the fishermen checked their pots. In the photo below, you can see one of the men measuring the crab to ensure they don’t take undersize animals.





The final photo is my favourite of the day. Every now and then, moments of beauty align and, if you are really fortunate, there will be a bird in the frame.






  


Wednesday, 16 November 2022

Along the coast to West Point

It looks wild and untamed, an area of beach on Prince Edward Island left to nature. We’d headed to the southwest coast of the island to Brae Harbour and driven along the coastline from the small community over a dirt road. We passed a few off-grid cottages and eventually arrived at a place where we’d need an off-road vehicle to go further.





This is an exposed area of coastline along the Northumberland Strait. A sand bar off shore breaks the waves and the water looks like it is boiling. 





Sandy red sea rushes to shore. However, there aren’t any sand dunes along this shoreline. Trees, shrubs and other vegetation border the beach while driftwood in abundance shows how many trees have been claimed by the onslaught.





This area of coastline is without a village or even a cottage. It is a part of the island coastline we have rarely seen, without cliffs or dunes either. A cottage here would be risky, without a border between it and the sea.


During a walk along this beach, we crossed one familiar island feature, a brook crossing the beach, a small one we could easily jump over. Walking east, one could see homes or cottages kilometres away along the shoreline. One cannot imagine the same in this area.


We returned to the main road and continued on to West Point. This area has been settled and like so many areas of the island, has a boat basin along the shoreline to offer protection to fishers, their boats and gear. 





There wasn’t much activity in the basin this time of year as fishing season was winding down. The ubiquitous sentinels of the sea, the cormorants, had one lone bird on duty that day, 





while along the breakwater side of the basin, others of the species commune with gulls and enjoy the autumn sun. 





Damage in the basin walls allows one to look west towards the West Point Lighthouse, one that stands out among lighthouses on the island for its black and white striping. This area has received much damage over the last number of years and revetments along the shoreline and lighthouse are strategically placed so as to reduce the same in the future.





We had our favourite lunch of the autumn thus far, sheltered from the on-shore breeze at a picnic table at the park there. While we ate our delicious chicken stew, we watched the robins nearby 





and listened to the chickadees, our most vocal woodland bird of autumn, as they flitted among the trees around us. We watched with interest at what we thought initially to be a crow but later identified as a Turkey Vulture, an unusual bird for the island. It was a thrill to watch it circle the area for its food, animals which are already dead, such a road kill.





We walked through the park and along the shoreline after lunch before we headed home. Another great day exploring the island! 







Saturday, 12 November 2022

For the love of picnics

We have thoroughly enjoyed our picnics this autumn but it looks like they will soon come to an end. The temperatures have dropped and the wind has been relentless, making for a cold which is uncomfortable for picnics. 


On one of our picnics before the cold set in, my husband asked why I enjoy them so much. I have thought about this for a while now and the answer is simple but not. We’re outdoors.


Some of my favourite memories of childhood were outdoors playing with my friends. Those days were idyllic, playing in the woods, on the beach or by the river. The days weren’t long enough for us. Time outdoors now speaks to that part of my spirit which was so happy in those childhood times.


It is more than that though. My love of a picnic is about the sounds of nature as we eat, such as the call of a gull along the shoreline, the lap of a wave on the shore or chickadees calling among the trees. For a few minutes during lunch, water trickling along a stream can fill the senses.


It is not only the sounds however that make a picnic, but the sights that go with them, such as the sea and its moods. The cloud formations for the day always have our attention as do the curiosities along a beach of red sand such as shells or driftwood. 


In the woods, the shape of the trees, how they sway with the wind of the day, the glow of the green beneath the canopy on a sun filled day, or the autumn colour of trees or grasses all make the experience of a picnic! There’s no need to bring flowers for the table because the wildflowers are prettier than any human-made bouquet. In the autumn, the wildflowers gone to seed catch the eye as well. And who can forget the feeling of the sun on one’s face or watching ducks or geese and goslings on a pond?


Then there is the company, time with friends to relax in such a setting and chat or time alone with your partner, to chat or sit in a comfortable silence, taking it all in. The food, hot or cold is a great bonus, eaten slowly so as to allow digestion of the nutrients and the surroundings. Hot tea, especially on an autumn or spring day, makes everything easier to consume. 


A picnic speaks to my spirit as it feeds mind and body. Who wouldn’t enjoy that?




Wednesday, 9 November 2022

The power of a peanut

The animals along the boardwalk in Summerside are a source of interest and enjoyment for many walkers. If you walk in the morning, birds and rodents are foraging and will take food from your hand if you are patient. However, there is a protocol for each species. 





Chickadees, the smallest of the lot, cannot take peanuts in the shell. 





Consequently, we crack the shells, 





remove the peanuts and break them in two. Then the tiny birds can fly off with half a peanut.





They are careful at first when you offer up peanuts but if one of the birds thinks he can trust you, soon several are in line to take the tasty morsels.


Then there are the blue jays. They will take peanuts however they are offered up, in the shell or not. They are reluctant to take peanuts from your hand, preferring them on the ground or railing. But if you are patient, they too will approach your hand to take them. 





The jays watch the area near the bridge carefully. At least one of them is always around and if a walker offers food, 





notice goes out and before long, you can have up to a dozen birds there. 





When you walk on after feeding them, some of the birds will fly from tree to tree along the way with you. They don’t want to miss out on anything.


The rodent population is represented by chipmunks and squirrels. We haven’t seen chipmunks around the boardwalk for a few weeks now but they disappear every winter into their burrows. 





However, the squirrels are still busy gathering food and will come around any walker.





They don’t hesitate to take peanuts from anyone. They usually inspect peanuts theyare given and eat any with cracked shells. Shells which are in perfect condition are taken away possibly for winter storage.





People in the area are photo worthy too. When we arrived on the boardwalk Monday morning, we could see through the trees that people on the bridge were feeding the animals. 





Later, as we continued our walk, people were busy feeding the animals further along the boardwalk, a lot of them in one area. 





The sun that day made for a poor photo however.


Animals and people are conditioned in a mutually beneficial relationship. It is enjoyed by all.