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Friday 30 March 2018

Two windows

Through the front window, facing west, the sky is blue, not a cloud to distract from the brilliant colour. Through the eastern window, gray cloud has moved in and looks threatening, though it is too cold to snow. The demarcation of the weather fronts appears directly over our house and the blue or gray sky could spread either way. The gray could subsume the blue westward and bring bad weather. Or, the western clearing could spread eastward. Which way is the wind blowing?

There isn’t anything we can do about it. The circumstances are totally out of our control and we wait for events to unfold. Meanwhile, we go on with life and enjoy what is and make the effort not to worry about what could be.

Sometimes, it’s not about the weather.

Wednesday 28 March 2018


It was a confluence of meteorological events, a sunny and calm, foggy, frosty day. One we have never seen in this combination. My husband and I were headed out to our daughter’s house, IPhone in hand, but we stopped along the way to take in the scenes.

A pine tree in its frosty spendor looked cold.

A stop by the park was in order on such a day. The sunlight on the frost-laden trees gave importance to every twig against the blue sky.

The white trunk of a birch glowed in the glorious sunlight.

This maple tree had a foggy backdrop.

A tree-lined street invited a photograph and a walk.

We may never see this combination of events again but the natural beauty was committed to memory and much appreciated. 

Monday 26 March 2018

After the Nor’easter

It was a bad storm late last week, possibly the worst this year. The usual culprits, tons of snow, high northeasterly winds and drifting were joined by thunder and lightning, our first experience of that phenomenon during a snow storm. It was a good time to stay inside.

My husband and I hadn’t been past the harbour since Wednesday. Three days later, we were surprised to see open water there. 

The high winds, coupled with high tides, moved the ice off shore. The day before this latest Nor’easter, the sea was ice covered along the southwest coast. 

The Summerside Harbour on March 21/18

March 24/18

Linkletter Park on March 21/18

March 24/18

Evangeline on March 21/18

March 24/18

Meanwhile the shoreline has pans of ice, 

while off-shore some pans are grounded on sand bars.

The 24th was bitterly cold with the Northeast wind making it difficult to steady the camera. I would not have been able to set up a tripod. My hands were near frost bitten. 

On the brighter side, at least the ice is gone! 

Friday 23 March 2018

Sights along the coast

On the first full day of spring, the bright sun drew us out of the house. The bonus was the lack of wind on this glorious spring day. My husband and I decided to drive along the western shore in the Evangeline region, just west of Summerside. 

There was much to see this day. We stopped at Linkletter Park again and walked along the shoreline. The ice hadn’t changed from the previous day but it was pleasant to walk there without the bitterly cold wind. It will be a few months before anyone is on these monkey bars.

A pair of huge ravens inspected their domain, as the two invading humans paused to observe them.

They spoke back and forth with their characteristic, “Cawwww.” 

They surmised we were no threat to anything in the park.

As we drove along the coast, we stopped periodically to take photographs. This unusual man and pig ornament sat atop a gate to the driveway at the side of a property. It is an unusual piece of folk art in this area.

All along the road, you are never too far from the sea. The cottages, houses and sheds or barns, stood out against the backdrop of the ice covered sea. In this photo, behind the shed, a wee bit of open water is visible.

It gives us hope.

The gazebo overlooks an area where people dig for clams in season. 

There is a sand bar exposed at low tide, making it easy to see the clam holes. You would never know this from the look of the area now.

One fenced yard next to a house had numerous old wheels and pieces of farm equipment on display. 

There is open water in the background here as well.

We returned home energized and enthusiastic for the days ahead. We could have taken a picnic this day and sat by the ocean with a mug of tea. It was pleasant enough and would have been invigorating after the long winter. If only the Nor‘easters were finished for this year!

Wednesday 21 March 2018

Spring ice

For the spring equinox yesterday, my husband and I went to the beach at Linkletter Park just west of Summerside. The harbour at Summerside is frozen still from temperatures cold enough to sustain the ice. From a distance, it looked like there was open water at this park, an unusual sight thus far in 2018. We were disappointed.

What looked like open water was clear ice over part of Miscouche Cove. 

Beyond this area, the ice and snow covers which are characteristic of the winter coastline, look to be broken into chunks and frozen underneath.

 With the bitter wind, it felt more like late January.

The coastline is snow covered, 

the playground equipment 

and picnic tables frozen into the earth.

They provide the foreground for the more famous Confederation Bridge and the Indian Head Lighthouse in the distance. 

Snowmobile trails skirt the shoreline

We hear birds in the distance though they are unseen, probably fluffed up and sitting in the evergreens. They are the only indication of spring. However, the return of longer days and strengthening sun will soon melt the ice, won’t it?

Monday 19 March 2018


Do you remember the delight you felt when you accomplished something for the first time? Being around my grandchildren has given me a window to the oft forgotten sensation. Our youngest grandchild, Owen, is a study in delight and we, his family, are the lucky spectators.

Owen, at nine months put together the complicated process of crawling. He can see something and move towards it now. First he rocked back and forth on hands and knees.

Then he’d plop down on his belly. Up again. Rock. Down. 

Some time later he lifted a knee, moved it forward and co-ordinated it with his hands. One tiny motion forward and plop! Down he went! He was determined though as he lifted himself up again, his expression and voice showed it. He tried again. Success! 

Look at that face! As my mother would say, “He’s some delighted with himself!” He was indeed. 

Somewhere along the way, many of us lose our delight in the wonder of the ordinary. It is subsumed by our busy lives. But every now and then, a young child will remind us to appreciate and be delighted at the wonder of it all.

Friday 16 March 2018

Memories of colour

It was beginning to look like spring. Then we had two snow storms with another in the forecast. Fellow bloggers are showing colourful spring flowers which will be months away for us.  Looking through photos from last summer, I discovered some colour of a different sort. It made me smile!

We turned off Veterans Memorial Highway to Coleman on our way to Cedar Dunes. Just past the exit, a riot of colour caught our eyes. 

My husband pulled over and cameras appeared out of the back seat. There was much to see.

The buoys were many and in various colours hung from a huge tree. We had seen something similar last year on our way to Point Prim Lighthouse. At the base of the tree, a miniature dory, like those used in the oyster fishery, leaned against the tree. 

Oyster tongs rested in the boat and on the tree. The garden was different from the one near Point Prim in another way however. It was home to garden gnomes.

There were tree stump houses surrounded with toad stools where the little creatures congregated. A train load of the tiny creatures was on its way to the buoy tree.

A red door attached to a tree looked as if it was a portal to a magic underground world where the little creatures came to life. 

The old barn was charming too, though it had seen better days. The house was attractively decorated as well and the grounds were well maintained. 

The owner arrived home as we photographed his yard. He told us people stop every day to take pictures but one Saturday was particularly busy. He discovered later his property was part of a scavenger hunt for a wedding celebration. 

Caught in the grip of winter weather, memories and photos of summer keep us going. 

Wednesday 14 March 2018


Northern gannets have been falling out of the sky around here which is not uncommon for these birds. However, falling onto our shores is not the way gannets usually fall.

Gannets are seabirds with white bodies, yellow heads, black wing tips and long sturdy beaks. The largest of the gannets is the Northern Gannet. They are huge, with a wing span up to six feet and live on the east coast of North America. The nearest breeding colony to Prince Edward Island is on Bonaventure Island, off the east coast of Quebec, several hundred kilometers as the gannet flies. 

Gannets are rarely seen on shore in PEI. If we do see them, they are off-shore, plunging into the sea after fish such as herring. 

This short video shows how gannets dive for fish. Diving gannets

When we have a gannet on this island, it is usually a dead one, which died from hunger or exhaustion, so far from its colony.

We saw the remains of three gannets this past year, two badly decomposed and one which a bird expert determined wasn't dead very long because the feathers were in great condition.

One of the birds was at Thunder Cove on the north shore. The other two were on the beach at Egmont Bay, including this beauty. 

The stick in the photo is twenty-eight centimeters or 11 inches long, so the wing span of this bird is enormous. 

The bird showed no sign of injury and was not tangled in a fishing net as is sometimes the case. Only a necropsy would be able to determine the cause of death. It is sad to see such a beautiful creature dead on the beach.

Should we encounter another dead bird such as this one around the island in the future, we know who to contact and where to bring the remains. We left this one to nature.

Monday 12 March 2018

Flash freeze

This has been an unusual winter. We had a month of deep freeze weather followed by two months of freeze and thaw. Flash freezing has occurred several times. When I was a child, I have a vivid memory of what I believe to be a flash freeze and the conditions my family faced one night. Two archival photos on-line recently reminded me of the event.

We lived with my Dad’s father in St. John’s from the time I was born until I was three. Then we moved to Maddox Cove, next door to my mother’s family. The photos show images of Petty Harbour, a neighbouring community, in the 1950s, which is part of my memory.

We had a car at that time and one Sunday, went to visit my grandfather in St. John’s. That evening, on our return home, it was icy. I imagine a mild winter day when the water is running and then the temperature drops. A flash freeze is the result. 

We drove through Petty Harbour and rounded the point of land on the road to our home in Maddox Cove, just a mile away. A few minutes later, Dad came to a dead stop. My three year old self in the back seat became aware of a discussion my parents were having about the dangerous road.

Snow had melted from the mountain on the left side and ran over the road which was positioned above a cliff. This road would be equivalent to a cow path by today’s standards. We had stopped by the Big Gulch, and on the passenger side of the car, we could look down into the gulch, where the waves broke over the cliffs, sending spray skyward. The headlights shone over the ice surface which sloped towards the gulch. I don’t remember a guard rail in place along that treacherous road but I imagine there was a fence like the one in this photo.

No wonder I was scared.

There were no studded snow tires but Dad had chains in the trunk. Somehow, he and my mother put chains on the tires. Dad steered our car as it crept over the ice with the chains sounding like jingle bells. At least that sound was comforting. I remember the sense of relief when we drove past the danger. 

The images of the gulch and the ice are as vivid to me as if they happened yesterday. I wonder if my father, who would have been in his early thirties at that time, ever had second thoughts about driving home over that treacherous road?

Friday 9 March 2018


There aren’t any branches or leaves. All that remains is a knotted mass of burrs on what is left of a tree. It has long since shed its youthful beauty. Unlike any other gnarled tree we have ever seen in our treks on Prince Edward Island, this one is covered in burrs. Usually there are one or two burrs. 

This tree tests imagination.

One can only imagine the stress this tree endured. Was it from fungi, bacteria, viruses, insect activity, animal activity, weather, human damage or a combination of any of these factors? Even the twigs are affected.

This tree makes me wonder how stress affects our bodies.

What are our burrs? Are they loss of sleep, lines on the face, gray hair, weight gain or loss? Are they even more insidious such as damage to blood vessels and heart from high blood pressure due to stress hormones? We each handle stress in our own way but there is potential for body damage. Unlike the burrs on this tree, most of us don’t show the stress as readily. 

Or do we?

Wednesday 7 March 2018

What a difference a cloud makes

Cloud cover has a huge impact on light. This is especially evident at the harbour in Summerside this time of year. Ice and snow make a white blanket which reflects the light filtered through the clouds.

A overcast day recently had deep blue gray cloud cover. It reflected blue off the white frozen surface of the harbour. 

Another day, white clouds barely covered the sun and the surface of the harbour reflected silver.

Then there are those days without a cloud in a sunny sky, like this one last April. The sea and sky became one.