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Monday, 23 October 2017


The name could be a title for a science fiction novel. Not this time however. It is an area in the national park on Prince Edward Island and while it isn’t a science fiction setting, it has an interesting geography.

This area includes the sand dunes of Cavendish Beach in the center of the island. 

Here, a pond, like so many on the island, was an inlet of the Gulf of St Lawrence which was cut off from the sea by the accumulation of beach sand.

Over the ages, the salt water in the pond was neutralized by rain and fresh water flowing into it. Now Macneill’s Pond is a home to fish and a resting/feeding place for Canada geese.

The dunes are covered in Maram grass and other vegetation. 

They are a great habitat for a variety of plants and animals, including foxes which have dens in the dunes. We saw a fox just west of Dunelands, making his rounds in a parking lot.

A rustic fence keeps park goers from walking on the dunes.

A boardwalk traverses the pond and provides a great view of the geese and fish in the water.

The area is in the flight path of the geese 

and we were pleased with the photos we took of the geese overhead.

Dunelands isn’t a large area but it is a natural wonder.

Friday, 20 October 2017

Under the red maple

Time is of the essence. The temperatures are often seasonal now and before long the snow will fly. In November last year, when we had snow, it stayed. Now my husband and I are hiking as often as we can and enjoying our last picnics for the year.

Our most recent excursion was to a demonstration woodlot which has an interpretative trail west of our home. The noon day sun created its autumn shadows across the trail. Georgie, the golden grand-dog was off lead again as we were the only people in the area. 

The trail has natural wooded areas and mature plantations. The height of autumn colour was a perfect time to visit. We admired the golds, reds and yellows which surrounded us but some scenes were particularly striking.

The red oak leaves demanded attention whether on a single tree 

or in a group of trees along the trail.

A huge tree stump had the question, “How old,” on a sign beside it. 

As we attempted to estimate the age of the tree, Georgie, not to be ignored, stood on the stump.

We looked at each other and laughed, “Seven.”

Farther along, a stand of Norway spruce had an area with lots of cones on the forest floor. We had noticed seedless cones in some stands of Norway spruce but these were huge cones filled with seeds. While we examined them, another fell from the tree tops. Georgie was intrigued by this and checked out the cone. Meanwhile another fell near the last one; Georgie checked that one too. And on it went.

Squirrels, heard above but unseen in the tall spruce, were chewing through the stalks of the cones which fell to the forest floor. Seedless cones are visible in the lower right of the photo below too. 

With the size of this stand of Norway spruce, the squirrels in this area will be well fed this winter. 

In a huge stand of Eastern cedar, the forest floor was covered in rusty coloured bits of cedar from the lower branches as the trees grow upwards. 

No light made it through the canopy and the rusty forest floor was unique in appearance, colour and texture.

We had lunch under a red maple near an inlet of Malpeque Bay. 

A red maple and a wild apple tree provided some shade for the picnic table.

As we ate lunch, enjoying every morsel of our sandwiches and black tea, a flock of red breasted nuthatches landed in the trees around us. They didn’t stay long but I managed to take one photo.

I have admired striped maples this fall and the leaves on these trees along the trail were huge, evenly coloured and resembled patterned velvet.

Finally, as we finished on the trail there was another picnic area with a guest book. There, we finally saw a raccoon, though not a typical one. Hope he doesn't do too much damage with that axe.

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

The stand

The sight of the potato stand brings a smile. It harkens back to a more innocent time, when you knew everyone in your community, relied on and trusted them. Now, traffic goes by with people from all over Prince Edward Island and beyond, from outside the neighbourhood and those one would know.

Traffic is so busy here, it is treacherous to stop and take a photo from the car. Yet, this potato stand appears every year when the harvest begins. The stand is opposite a farm on a two lane highway without much of a shoulder.

Such stands are an island tradition! Along the roadways or at the end of driveways,  farmers place their produce in stands, often as seen here, a wooden box with shelves. People stop, take a bag of potatoes and put money in the metal box. It is an honour system. The farmer is saying, "I have implicit faith you will leave money if you take the potatoes I have worked for months to grow.” 

And it works. 

On the rare occasion when it doesn’t, we hear about it on the evening news. Over this past summer, someone stole money and honey from a stand in Canoe Cove. No honour there. Still the practice continues and for the most part, without incident.

The world today is unsafe for many due to natural and man made disasters and tragedies. No wonder the stands make us smile.

Monday, 16 October 2017

Fern Hills

These are not power walks. On hikes through the Bonshaw Hills this month, my husband and I look up and stop often to take photos. However, the undergrowth deserves notice as well, particularly the ferns.

Sometimes, they are lush and green in spite of the date on the calendar.

In other areas, the yellow ferns are striking against the background of fallen leaves.

White ferns are rarer but they stand out on the forest floor.

Ferns which are finished teasing us with their colour, turn rusty in the end.

And if we are really lucky, we find a stand of ferns in various stages of autumn glory.

But once in a while, we have to just stop and catch our breath.

Friday, 13 October 2017

The burn

We stood in silence and watched the flames. The heat, which had been intense, was not so much now as the old barn was consumed by the fiery beast. 

It belched a huge cloud of smoke which was carried away from us by the wind. 

The sounds of the burning timbers drowned out the noise of the pumps, vehicles and fire fighters.

The old barn was on my friend, Lucy’s property. 

A controlled burn by the volunteer fire department of Kinkora was a training exercise

a and a quick way to dispose of the dilapidated structure. Lucy had purchased the property from her friend, Gerard, who was there to watch the proceedings.

Lucy, Gerard and I watched as the ten fire fighters arrived with trucks including a tanker, two pumper trucks, 

and a rescue vehicle and set up their equipment. Rural Prince Edward Island has artesian wells which don’t have enough water pressure to supply the hoses. Because pumper trucks have a limited amount of water on them when they arrive at a fire, water must be tanked to a fire site where the pumper trucks provide the pressure to force the water through the hoses. 

We watched as the water was emptied from the tanker into two reservoirs and it took only a few minutes to fill one of them and part of the other. 

Then the tanker left to refill. The fire fighters worked efficiently to set up the equipment necessary to spray the grass around the old structure.

The chief kept a sharp eye on the situation and directed his crew where he saw a need. 

Sparks rose high into the air though they posed no threat to the house or the out building. The fire fighters checked the buildings periodically to see if they were hot, then sprayed them down with water via the pumper trucks.

They were concerned especially about the windows of the house which, if too hot, would break when the cold water hit the glass.

As the last of the tallest timbers disappeared, Gerard said, “I wonder what father would think of this.”

“I wondered how you felt about it,” I said. Then added, “How old was the barn?”

Gerard, from the seat of his walker, spoke of the one hundred and fifty year old building which his father had bought from the Duffy family. His earliest memories of the barn go back to age four. By the time he was six, he was driving a tractor.

He remembered both his mother and father around the barn where they kept cows and the horses used to plow the fields. They both worked hard, as did the children as they grew.

Gerard remembered how his father reconfigured the barn over time and you could see, as the flames reflected in his fading eyes, the memories were easily accessible in his mind’s eye. He didn’t want to miss this occasion, the end of Duffy’s barn.

Later, Lucy asked Gerard if he wanted to go back to the Home and he said, “Yes.” 

You can't burn the memories from a mind and the feelings from a heart.

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Alone day

Equal time with Nanny and Poppy, that’s what she wanted. Our eldest granddaughter, in Grade One now, doesn’t have time alone with us like her younger sister does. So recently, my husband and I collected Sylvie after school to spend a few hours alone with her.

At the bulk food store, we bought peanuts to feed the squirrels 

and blue jays along the boardwalk. It’s one of our usual activities which she really enjoys.

There had been torrential rains the night before and the longest thunderstorm we had ever experienced. As a result, the water in the stream which empties into the harbour was high and muddy from the run-off. 

“Oh look, muddy cuddles,” I said to Sylvie as we stood on the gazebo and looked into the water below. As a two year old, Sylvie loved Peppa Pig and the muddy puddles where Peppa splashed around. In Sylvie’s two year old vocabulary, muddy puddles became muddy cuddles. Now the phrase is a part of family vernacular. 

We watched as a yellowlegs foraged for food along the island in the stream. He seemed to disappear into the background and it was fun trying to spot him.

Back at home, arts and crafts filled the time until supper. Sylvie can spend hours at them, especially when you show interest in or work at them with her.

We finished the day with her favourite meal as we chatted about school and the million other topics her active mind conceives and which she voices almost non-stop. 

She paused briefly and asked, "When is the next alone day?"

Monday, 9 October 2017


The sky is busy today. A few high clouds with jets at various altitudes crossing east to west catch the eye as we look out over the setting. The sun is hot but the breeze has a cooling effect. It is Thanksgiving weekend at Cavendish Grove.

The Grove is in the National Park on Prince Edward Island but the park isn't busy today. Most tourists have returned home, leaving the autumn splendor to the lucky few who live on the island. While tourism is important to the economy, my husband and I love these days when the spaces are open and empty and ours to explore.

Fresh and clean describes the air as the breeze rustles the leaves which are dry due to their stage of autumn and the arid summer. An occasional car speeds by in the distance but does not disturb the ambience. We are the only people here but the birds are busy all around us, chirping to each other and filling the spaces in our conversation. 

Lunch is on a bench over-looking the basin which has grown in since the spring run-off. Here, the waist high autumn dipped grasses sway and murmur in the breeze. The grove has a voice of its own today.

The fare is simple, homemade bread, freshly baked chicken, aged cheddar, fresh vegetables and dip, black tea. We savour every morsel in this autumnal theatre. And give thanks!

Sunday, 8 October 2017

Natural impressionism

                                                                Happy Thanksgiving, Canada.

Friday, 6 October 2017

Last rose

Our weather has been unseasonably warm, 20 degrees Celsius and sunny with warm breezes. We are not accustomed to Octobers with such weather. We are wearing summer clothes, though the fall and winter clothes are on stand-by. An October walk by the bay showed a mix of the last gasps of summer and the promise of autumn.

Wild mustard blooms are almost gone and the seed pods are visible.

Aster blooms are abundant although some have withered and gone to seed.

This type of thistle appears to partially bleach every autumn. Could this effect be due to an iron deficiency or sun scorch?

The winterberry holly has its characteristic berries now, a ready bird food for the winter months.

Grasses along the river which flows into the harbour are showing their age,  as they become more straw-like.

Bees are busy still and wasps are particularly aggressive.

This old tree trunk which we call the perch, is a resting place for a mourning dove on this day. Many species of birds use the perch but a number have already flown south.

And of course, some leaves are changed already.

The Last Rose of Summer, a poem by the Irish poet Thomas More, came to mind any time my husband and I came across the rare fading beauties.

The poem was set to a traditional Irish tune which I love. This version of the song, sung by Celtic Woman, brings back memories of piano lessons and school choir during elementary school. 

The Last Rose of Summer is here.