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Friday 30 September 2016

The geese at low tide

Over the Labour Day weekend, Canada geese returned to our shores and fields from their summer excursion to the north. Here they will fatten up in preparation for their journey south which usually begins in late December. 

Somehow, they have marked their internal calendars to return to Prince Edward Island when the fields are ready to be harvested. Soon, they will flock to the fields in our neighbourhood after the crops have been removed. We hear them before we see their V configuration in the sky. We are often drawn outside to watch them.

Not leaving anything to chance this year, we decided to spend some time watching the geese at low tide in the harbour at Summerside.


There they feed on seaweed which is abundant and fresh at low tide. Camera at the ready, I walked in the red mud flats, amid the pools of water near the geese. Along the way, I saw some sandpipers on the beach 


and blue herons take flight.


Although I was anxious to capture the geese in flight, I did not want to disturb the flock.


Later, rather than approach them, I stood on shore opposite their preferred area and observed them for an hour. There were hundreds of geese in the mud flats out to the channel through the harbour.


While I was there, a vessel, either a Canadian Coast Guard or Fisheries Patrol vessel came into the harbour. I hoped the birds would take flight, but even those near the channel ignored the vessel as it cruised in the bay. 


Some geese moved around the bay during that hour,


in small flocks, often noisy as they flew. When stood, they faced into the southerly breeze, 


stood on one leg, with the second leg tucked under their upper bodies. Often their heads were tucked down as well. They showed tremendous balance and strength.

On occasion an argument broke out, with one bird noisy and aggressive towards another,


 neck extended, to nip at the other. Arguments didn't appear to last long but bullies are not limited to the human species.


The time passed all too quickly as I watched, feet wet, camera busy. Next time I'll bring my rubber boots and a tripod.


Wednesday 28 September 2016

Imperfect beauty

The shells were everywhere, razor clam, mussel, oyster, and many I didn't recognize. We had not seen many shells on our visits to the beaches on the north shore of Prince Edward Island this year. However, the beach in Cascumpec Harbour in Northport, had shells. The most interesting ones were the moon snail shells, 


many broken 


to reveal the beauty of the spiral 


which is hidden when the shell is intact. 


In their broken beauty, 


they were an inspiration there on the red sand.


They were not perfect


 but their imperfections 


made each unique and special in its own way. 




Monday 26 September 2016

Around the point

The last day of summer was a celebration for us, a celebration of a great summer on a day which felt like mid not end of season. Cascumpec Bay, on the north shore of Prince County of Prince Edward Island was the site of our picnic. An island breeze and the cloudless sky with temperatures in the mid-twenties could not have been better. We sat on the beach in Northport and enjoyed our lunch, our favourite sandwiches and coffee made fresh just an hour before. 

The day was perfect for exploration and the beach had much to offer. The point,


visible from our location, was a good place to start. There was a great deal of seaweed on the beach and oyster shells


 left from a feast there. Someone likes oysters more than we do.

The most startling sight was around that point. Destruction!


All along the coast, was a tangle of dead trees which had lost their anchorage in the red soil.


The erosion on that coastline was evident from the number of trees which fell victim to the sea.


They were mere ghosts of their former selves, whitened by the salt water, weathered, stark, yet beautiful somehow.


Others held on to the last bit of life with autumn on the horizon and rough seas to come. 


It is easy to see how the trees die when the erosion of the soil undermines the vegetation above. 


The elevation here is no more than a meter but sea caves are evident where the sea has washed away the soil. 


Before long, the trees topple, their unique sculpture becomes evident over time as the leaves and needles die and their structure is exposed.


This part of the coast is a graveyard, with the victims as harbingers of a future none of us may want.


Sunday 25 September 2016

Coffee break

The berries are ruby red, and in various stages of ripeness. They are berry reminders of home, Newfoundland, sent to us by my mother-in-law. 


Patridgeberries, known as lingonberries in Scandanavia, grew along the cliffs of Maddox Cove when I was young and I picked them every September with my Aunt Esther, my Uncle Ned's wife. We enjoyed each other's company and our time together, walking along the shore, looking for berries, avoiding the dangerous cliff-side. Today that shoreline is part of the East Coast Trail.

Jam requires scones, 


or tea buns as we call them. 


And so it was. Tea buns and partridgeberry jam with coffee or tea if you prefer.  


Hope you have a week of wonderful treats too!

Friday 23 September 2016

The courtyard garden

The courtyard garden at the hospital in Summerside, Prince Edward Island is tended by volunteers from the Summerside Garden Club. That's how I became involved with the garden, through the garden club and our family's experience with the hospital. 

Our first born granddaughter was a reluctant newborn whose life was saved by the staff at that hospital. We sat in a room in that building, 


afraid that our baby girl would not survive. I noticed that garden, covered in snow at that time. Later, I wanted to give back in some way. 


Work in the garden was a nice break from the work with people I had done for my entire career.


Volunteers are organized into teams from May to October and work on a schedule. 


While we work, hospital staff often drop by to thank us for our efforts.


On occasion, patients have been wheeled into the garden as well. For staff and patients alike, the garden is a welcome sight and space amid the life and death decisions of the facility.


By September, the garden is in its late season colour. 


It is still beautiful, but many plants are ready for the rest to come in the next number of months.


Next month, we will put the plants to bed for the long sleep.


This past summer, it was the scene of a wedding as well. The garden is a beautiful, silent witness to all aspects of life. It is an honour to be part of it.



Wednesday 21 September 2016

Rusty nail

Country music plays in our house. While I love many types of music, my husband is a country music fan and I listen for the content. My better half likes the melody and rhythm but does not listen for the lyrics.

Canadian country artist Terri Clark at a concert we attended last week

The words are often curious, like a recent title, You Look Like I Need a Drink sung by Justin Moore, or how about Girls Lie Too, sung by Terri Clark? Themes such as cheatin', lyin', drinkin', dyin', which I call the "in" themes, are common. Think of all the country songs you've heard over the years. Subjects include nature, The Cattle Call, and Tumbling Tumbleweeds,  clothing, Coat of Many Colors, cultural identity, Coal Miner's Daughter and of course, Your Cheatin' Heart. Then there's the more recent This Is Country Music, sung by Brad Paisley which mentions what you "can't" sing about in other genres but "this is country music and we do."

We often comment about subjects for a country song. My husband has taken to the beaches with a metal detector on occasion and frequently found rusty nails. They would suffice. So these are some lyrics for my country song. I am looking for a co-writer, so try a verse and write in the comments below. It is called

You Nailed It        

All is left is a rusty nail
From when we were together.                               
And I am utterly bereft
Since I read your parting letter. 

You nailed it,
You nailed it,
Oh my darlin' yes you did.
And now I am a closed off man,
On my heart you nailed a lid.

We'd have to find a musician for a melody of course, something mournful might be in order, especially if, in the end, the guy has a heart attack. Just sayin'...

Monday 19 September 2016

Savage beauty

Last week, my husband and I headed east for another picnic in an area of Prince Edward Island we had not explored. When we missed the exit to the community we had in mind, a sign for a picnic area caught our attention. We didn't find the picnic area but we found Savage Harbour. It was a happy accident indeed.

Savage Harbour, on the north coast of King's county, is a tiny fishing community, with a wharf and fishing boats in a protected little harbour. We drove past the community to the beach where we had lunch. With the exception of  two fishers that day, it was as if we were the only people on the planet.


 The beach runs along the coastline from the community to the channel into the harbour. 


The channel has a sea wall which provides protection from the sometimes rough sea. 


There aren't any dwellings in this area and the beach was deserted.. 

We parked by a sign, which we did not understand at the time. 


Our portable table and chairs were ideal as we ate lunch, listened to the sea and watched the waves spray the air on that windy day. 


We noticed cormorants and gulls as they flew into the harbour.


The beach felt wild in nature. Part of it was the wind that day, blowing the sand around at ground level, and the sea, rough by island standards. But the birds were the unusual factor, numerous in both number and variety, unlike any we'd seen at other beaches frequented by tourists.

Here the birds rested among the sea weed, 


flocks flew around the water's edge, 


or walked in the kelp, looking for food. 


We kept our distance, not wanting to disturb them. It gave me the opportunity to use my new camera with its zoom. The untouched and undisturbed feel of the place was special.

Later, we discovered the meaning of Canavoy Beaches; areas along the northeast shore of the island, including this stretch at Savage Harbour, where endangered piping plovers nest. Two pairs of the birds nested in this area last year. All terrain vehicles are discouraged on the beaches in the Canavoy areas as are dogs off lead.

I took many photos, using various settings on the new camera. 


It will be a slow process to learn all of them. I enjoy the photography as much as the writing now.

                                            Photo bombed by a gull. There's a cormorant on a post behind the gull.


Two days later, Savage Harbour was in the news. A female dolphin and her calf were in distress,  the calf in the grass on the shoreline and the mother in the shallow water. A rescue effort saved the two creatures.

Savage Harbour is a special place!