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Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Tall ships

The rigging is impressive, 

meter after meter and all with purpose. Four tall ships were in Summerside recently. Men were busy in the rigging on one of the vessels in preparation for sailing. Imagine doing that work any time, but especially in rough seas!

There were two square riggers plus a schooner and a sloop. 

These ships aren’t a regular sight in Summerside. Most of the harbour traffic here is fishing boats 

but sail boats are common in the summer.

Cargo ships are common as well, maneuvering their way around the Indian Head Lighthouse. 

The most impressive sight however, is the tall ships, even when they are not under sail.

As the vessels left the harbour, one could imagine the days when our ancestors left distant shores, looking for a better life in various parts of the New World. It wasn't too long ago when the only vessels in this harbour were powered by the wind.

The first to leave port was the Alexander von Humboldt II from Germany, the biggest of the vessels, a three masted square rigger. She had her green sails furled as she headed out through the channel.

Then the other square rigger, the Picton Castle, left the wharf. 

The schooner, the Bowdoin, had sails from one mast as she passed.

Together with the sloop, the Peter von Danzig,  these are training ships, where new generations learn the skills necessary to operate the vessels.

In the distance, the Humboldt resembles a ghost of a by-gone era.

Monday, 24 July 2017

Into the wood

Down the steps and across a bridge from Green Gables is the Haunted Wood, made famous by the author, Lucy Maud Montgomery.

She knew the area as a child and included the wood in her novels about Anne Shirley. Anne, like Lucy Maud, imagined these woods to be haunted.

Walking through the wood, one can picture the young Lucy Maud on her way to and from Green Gables from her home nearby.

Today, the mixed forest consists of huge trees at least twenty-five meters high. 

The wind in the trees makes them creak and sway. What would that sound be like at night? The effect when the moon is full must be eerier with the shadows cast as the trees sway.

Branches reach like octopus arms grasping for anyone who comes within reach. 

But the faces…

they look at any passer-by who is within the limits of their frozen expression. Sometimes, the faces are stacked as a natural totem. 

The skeletons of trees which died along the path, are in stark contrast to the green of summer.

All add to the haunted feel, even during the day.

In the past, people have carved their initials into a few of the trees. Were such marks on similar trees over one hundred and thirty years ago when the child, Lucy Maud, walked this wood? Such initials could represent the names of people who disappeared there!

These days, a golf course crosses the Haunted Wood. The golfers are a curious distraction to the imagination and the ambience of the trail. We stopped to watch and wonder what Lucy Maud would think of their presence in one of her favourite haunts.

Friday, 21 July 2017

Art gallery

We spent time in an art gallery recently, though not a traditional one. This gallery is in the Evangeline region of Prince Edward Island and is called the St. Chrysostome Wildlife Management Area. Almost 1000 acres of wetlands and forest are protected, with Ducks Unlimited involved. To the east, a few cottages line the coast but we walk west.

There aren’t any trails or boardwalks here, a beach which has driftwood and seaweed but otherwise is clean and wild. 

On first look, there appears to be grassland between the forest and the ocean but as we continue, a pond comes into view a few meters inland.

And ducks, one looks almost too perfect to be real.

The pond has a small beach and as we approach, hundreds of small fish dart away from the shore into the grasses.

The artist takes her time creating her pieces and they stir the imagination. 

We see an octopus, 

an alien hand,

a dinosaur’s tibia,

and the skeleton of a jellyfish-like creature.

I stealthily capture a picture of Medusa.

In another location, branches reach out of the grass. 

From another angle they look entirely different.

As we continue along the beach, we notice a river which wends its way through the wetland 

and another pond or the extension of the previous one. It is impossible to determine from our location. In this pond, ducklings follow their mother.

Lunch is on the beach, as the wind plays music in the tall grass of nature's gallery.

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Green Gables

The house is a literary landmark in Canada. This is Green Gables, made famous in the novels of Lucy Maud Montgomery, 1874-1942, who was a child of the island of Prince Edward.

Green Gables was owned by the MacNeil family, Lucy Maud’s cousins. The author set her novels about the orphan, Ann Shirley, in this home at Green Gables and the surrounding countryside of Cavendish. Thousands visit this area, including this home, every year.

Outside the house, the carriage lies waiting for the horse to take Anne Shirley, Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert to church. However, now Anne’s hat has red pig tails attached.

In the garden, trees are in bloom

on this summer day and the old tree in the flower bed is a natural sculpture.

This house itself is decorated in the Victorian style with its wallpaper, flooring, lace curtains and doilies. It offers a step back in time. 

Anne’s room is the most intriguing to me, with her clothes laid out and her book bag on the chair. She is expected home from Diana’s house any minute.

The guides tell stories from the books about the characters and various items around the house. For example, accidentally, Anne gave her friend Diana wine instead of raspberry cordial because the wine was in the wrong place on the shelves.

If ever a place was designed to complement a work of fiction, this is it. 

Fans of the Anne novels and the various tv series love this place. Every day, hundreds pass through the doors of Green Gables, into Anne’s world, as Lucy Maud described it. The character and the setting have a life of their own now, as a red headed guide, dressed in Anne attire, greets all visitors. 

The novel Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery is available free


Monday, 17 July 2017

Then we had tea

A July 6/17 article by a fellow blogger, Anvilcloudcaused me to reflect on some of the items I have from my mother. Anvilcloud mentioned, “Nobody wants your stuff,” in the blogpost. While I realized the same years ago after Mom died, AC gave me reason to pause.

My mother was never one to acquire anything fancy. She used what she had, then disposed of the remains. However, she valued bone China tea cups and had many which she left to me. I use them often and think of Mom every time. Similarly, I use my own China and crystal regularly and enjoy it. 

Anything I have would be passed on to our daughter and grandchildren. However, they will not want that stuff. The question became how to use Mom’s cups with the children today?

The solution presented itself recently when Caitlin and Sylvie, ages four and six, visited for the weekend. They always play tea party, using a play tea set and plastic sweets. But this time, we made muffins, as we often do and had a tea party using Mom’s China cups. 

Each girl picked out the cup she wanted and we drank juice-tea from the fancy cups which came from their great grandmother. We talked about the etiquette of a fancy tea and ate muffins but giggled a great deal. We practised how to avoid slurping or dinging the cup with the spoon, as we gently stirred our tea. What better use could those cups ever have? Fancy tea parties will be a regular occurrence now. 

Mom would have been thrilled!

Thanks, AC.

Friday, 14 July 2017

Bank swallows

They are tiny and fast, as they do acrobatics in the air. Bank swallows have fascinated my husband and me this spring and summer along the coastline of Prince Edward Island. However, photos have been difficult to acquire.

The small birds eat insects which they pluck from the air. We have only seen a few land on the ground during our several encounters with them. They are always in erratic motion. 

You can check out the sound of bank swallows here.

Our most recent encounter was at Red Point Provincial Park on the east coast of the island. During our picnic lunch, we watched the antics of the birds and pondered how to photograph them.

After lunch, we headed for a walk on the beach where a bank of five meters high explained why these swallows were present. A colony was established in the bank, groupings or single holes covered the top meter along one section of bank.

As I stood there and observed the holes, dozens of the tiny birds returned and swirled overhead, then headed into the holes. Imagine the sounds of so many of these swallows as you stand there watching! They disappeared into their nests and after a minute or so, exited again.

I continued to watch, wondering if there were any stragglers. After ten minutes, they were back again to repeat the scene. Again they left and returned.

Finally, success! I focussed on one hole and there she was, peering out. 

Later, another clung to the exterior of a hole and stayed long enough for me to photograph. 

The final photo was a motion shot which froze two of the little beauties in flight. 

Curiosity, observation and patience are important qualities when it comes to bird photography. The results can be special. However, had I not taken any photos, the experience of standing under the noisy, swirling bank swallows, was a once in a lifetime experience.

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

The lighthouse at St. Peter's Harbour

It looks battered and worn as you approach the shore.

This lighthouse at St. Peter’s Harbour was deactivated in 2008. Until recently, the old building was hidden behind the sand dunes which had grown in size since 1881 when the structure was built.

However, it wasn’t the end of the old lighthouse because a local group, The St. Peter’s Lighthouse Society, has acquired the old structure and is restoring it to its former glory. Initial work is well underway and the whole structure has been lifted four feet.

Now it stands above the dunes and out of the sand again. Work to repair the old building will continue.

As my husband and I moved through the trail 

lined with bayberry and other bushes,

sparrows competed with the ocean sounds. Dozens of them sang and flitted through the shrubs, meters from the beach on the far side of the dunes.

This beach

is on the western shore of the entrance to St. Peter’s Bay while the National Park at Greenwich is visible on the eastern shore. 

The beach is similar to Greenwich, though with less people.

There was a wharf on this shore at one time, at the entrance to St Peter’s Bay. All that remains now are the weathered supports 

which are battered during every storm and some of which disappear in high tide.

The old wood, bleached from the sea and sun, shows character and history.

Here, at the area where the water of St. Peter’s Bay meets the Gulf of St Lawrence you can see the turbulence on the surface of the water. However, the water is warm at this low tide.

As we roam the beach, we notice holes in the sand. 

These are made by razor clams, which people dig, gather and cook. We have never eaten these but an excursion to dig for them would be a great adventure.

Meanwhile, in the tops of the sand dunes, bank swallows have made their nests, though they are not circling overhead today.

This beach at St. Peter's Harbour has a unique character though it is a pristine beach like so many others on the island.