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Monday 30 July 2018

Missing pieces

This past week was wonderful for my husband. He had the opportunity to meet a cousin he hasn’t seen for 55 years. Circumstances beyond the control of two boys all those years ago kept them apart. They found each other again because of this blog and his wife’s on-line search.

This past week the cousins reunited when the couple visited us on Prince Edward Island. We did some touring around the island to places not often frequented by tourists, areas which show the essence of island life. We ate Jigg’s dinner, a Newfoundland meal and seafood including lobster, mussels, crab and halibut. Of course we had picnics.

The men have an image of each other from photos in their childhood. 

My husband is six years older so he was taller than his young cousin all those years ago. Now his cousin towers over him.

We laughed a lot this past week, told stories and caught up on lives which took diverging paths all those years ago. 

What is it about family which draws you to each other? The desire to know where you come from, the stories which explain who your predecessors were, help explain you too. Family helps you answer questions about where your abilities come from, who you resemble or sound like. You discover where you belong!

Circumstances in your life may keep you from having a clear picture of where you fit in a family and in the world. But sometimes, because of the internet, you journey home.

Friday 27 July 2018


The grandkids are usually in bed by 7:30 p.m. but the older two were up late at the beach house. Each night ended with a fire, roasting marshmallows and making S’mores. Playing with the kids all day and up early every morning meant the adults went to bed soon after the kids. However we were awake long enough to see the Milky Way.

The area didn’t have street lights and with the approaching new moon, even on clear nights the darkness was deep. On those nights, it wasn’t long before the sky filled with stars, more than any of us had ever seen. The Milky Way was obvious, a concentration of stars in a band we looked upon from the earth. One can feel small and insignificant in the face of such wonder.

We don’t have to feel insignificant though. Significance comes from what we contribute to the world and each other. What are we doing for the planet? What are we doing for others, known and unknown? Our positive actions make us a part of an on-going creation, contributing to an expanding universe with the good we do. We can embrace the view of the Milky Way with open hearts at the wonder of creation rather than feel insignificant in the face of it.


That’s the view from here.

Wednesday 25 July 2018

Knox’s Dam

One of our outings in eastern Prince Edward Island was to Knox’s Dam on the Montague River. 

During the first half of the last century, a hydroelectric power plant at the site provided electricity to the town of Montague. Prior to that, a grist mill was located there.

The buildings are long gone but the dam still stands in a peaceful green setting.

The sound of the water invites you to walk the rustic path to an area below the dam 

where you can stand on a concrete block in the river to take photos or just take in the sights and sounds.

Along the path you pass a large fish ladder.

The girls, seven and five were fascinated with the ladder. We watched but there weren’t any fish to see in the ladder that day.

All six of us and the golden retriever, Georgie made it to the concrete block, with just enough room for all to stand. The water looked inviting to Georgie and she attempted to jump in.

I was lucky to have a tight grip on her lead and pulled her back. Standing there with the family, the sound of the water,

surrounded by green and the view of the falls, are all etched in my memory.

This location is a recreational area now, 

with fishing a big part of the appeal. The setting alone was enough for us, a must see in the Montague area.

Monday 23 July 2018

For the love of peonies

It’s that time again when my favourite blooms are filling the garden with their gorgeous faces. 

My love of peonies comes from my husband’s grandmother, Classie, who grew them in her garden and gifted friends and family with the plants.

We could not bring our Classie peonies from Newfoundland with us,

but I bought some plants here and continue to add variously coloured peonies to our flower bed.

                                      Ants love peony buds where they eat the nectar produced by the bloom

I missed the best week for the peony blooms of our home garden, 

but the beach house where we stayed last week had peonies as well.

My idea of heaven includes a beach and peonies!

Friday 20 July 2018

Ebb and flow

As a child staying with my grandparents’ at their home in Maddox Cove, Newfoundland, I was aware of the sea. Granda earned his living from the sea. He was acutely aware of her tides, the moon phases and the weather. He could read the look of the water and sky. While I played at the beach, my child’s view of the sea was limited, though I loved the sound and smell of her. 

Later in my life, I moved to central Newfoundland with my husband where we lived for over thirty years. I could not have been farther from the sea on that island. Now, in Summerside, Prince Edward Island we are near the sea again. However near is not the same as living on the shoreline. Our recent week at a beach house in Launching brought me back to those days in Maddox Cove.

In Launching, the tide controlled in which direction and how far one could walk on the beach. We were there leading up to the new moon, when the difference in water levels at high and low tide is the greatest. High tide meant the sea was mere centimeters from the base of the steps down to the beach. 

Low tide allowed us to walk for kilometers and collect shells and seafood from the beach if we were so inclined. The beach expanded far into the bay and the water wasn’t very deep. We could collect scallops, dig for clams, such as soft shell and razor clams. 

There are small crabs as well though too small for eating. 

At low tide there are oysters along the beach but this area is leased to local fishers and it is illegal to collect oysters here. Along the shoreline, marker buoys are out of water at low tide.

This bay is separated from the Northumberland Strait by a sand spit. 

                               The Northumberland Strait is beyond the grass in the center of the photo.

There is a river which empties into the bay to the north. The sound of waves crashing was absent, merely a gentle lap of water along the shoreline at high tide. The air was fresh and clean. The smell of the sea was noticeable along the shoreline.

We watched the ebb and flow of the water in anticipation of low and high tide. The six hour rhythm from tide to tide quickly became a part of life there.

I understand now Granda.

Wednesday 18 July 2018

Soccer in Launching

With all the excitement over World Cup football, our family had its own equivalent of an epic football game or soccer as we call it. The girls love the game and were eager to participate. 

It was hot at the beach house in Launching, Prince Edward Island, as we headed to the field. The teams were oddly matched. The Reds included Georgie, the golden retriever, Nanny and Sylvie. The Greens included Caitlin, Mommy and Poppy. 

Before the play began there was trouble on the field as Georgie ran off with one of the goal markers. A chase ensued as the retriever scooted across the field chewing on the ring. She ignored efforts by her team mates to call her back. 

She eventually fell for, “Treat time, Georgie.”

Not to be outdone, Georgie decided to chew another goal marker, a piece of firewood. She ran off with that too when approached. The teams were running out of treats but finally wrested the marker from the naughty golden.

Finally play commenced with Nanny in goal for the Reds and Mommy for the Greens. Play was in front of the Green goal as Nanny stopped several goals by deflecting the ball with her hands. Her boot was off however as she kicked the ball out of bounds several times. Then Caitlin, all alone in front of the goal, scored. Georgie wanted to chase the ball as well and tackled Nanny as she kicked it down the field.

Meanwhile, the stands were empty except for a shady area at ground level. One year old Owen was content with the 1-0 score. He favoured Mommy’s team.

At half time all the players were thirsty and headed for the kitchen where ice water and milk awaited. Owen joined us for the half time beverage.

The second half saw the score tied up by Sylvie. Then second goals by each of the girls resulted in a 2-2 tie. Finally Caitlin scored the winning goal as the little spectator started to cry. 

Time for lunch.

Monday 16 July 2018


Our bags were packed but they were the least of it. There were groceries to get us started, such as the first evening meal and breakfast and lunch the next day. Milk for the kids, coffee and tea for the adults added their own bags. A cooler took up a lot of room.

The paraphernalia for our senior selves was daunting. We had a bag filled with our prescription meds and over-the-counter meds for various ailments that may develop when we aren’t near a pharmacy. Experience has taught us to include as much as we can. ASA 81 is always easily accessible.

The games we always play when the kids are at our house were a priority as well as books, kites, floats, bubble mix. Who knows what the weather will be?

We had a bag of wood for the requisite evening fires where S’mores will be happily roasted and consumed. Splits for the fire required an axe. 

Then the electronic gear, cameras, Ipads, laptop, phones and the chargers are another issue. We had it all, from a needle to an anchor.

The golden grand-dog was visiting our house when we left so Georgie, her food and  accoutrements were in our car as well.   

The beach house we’d rented was in a rural area in eastern Prince Edward Island, a mere two hour drive. Because we were traveling with our daughter and three young children, we decided to make a day of it. We took a picnic, of course, to have at Bonshaw Hills Park along the way, where the kids could play for a time. 

My husband was concerned the front tires of the car were barely touching the road but we made it safely. However, what goes in the car must come out and as quickly as possible since our daughter’s van was full too. The heat and humidity were oppressive but hastened the work.

The sunset was lovely as I walked along the beach with Georgie that first night. Oh, we forgot...

Friday 13 July 2018

Rock faces

At Thunder Cove the beach is pristine. The eastern side is lined with sand dunes. 

To the west the sandstone cliffs line the beach, and the wave action forms interesting features such as sea stacks. However, the cliffs themselves are worth a look as the sea works its erosive magic on them every year.

Sandstone erodes easily. Today, the cliff looks a long distance from the water’s edge. 

Not so during seasonal storms, especially during high tide, when the water licks at the sandstone and erodes it easily. 

When we visited the beach last year, one place had a phone booth sized opening in the cliff. This year, the change is dramatic as a huge area of sandstone has disappeared, creating an area more than ten times the size it was last year. This beach is eroding at an alarming rate.

The sandstone itself shows the rounded profile of water action. 

A developing sea cave shows how high the seas are sometimes, more than a meter above the sand.

A tunnel may erode into existence here. Could another sea stack, albeit a small one, follow?

And all along the cliffs, faces look out from the sandstone.

As nature does its work, their expressions will change or they’ll disappear over the next year,

 like the humans who gaze upon them. 

Wednesday 11 July 2018

Blackbird antics

On our excursions around Prince Edward Island recently, we see Red winged blackbirds around the remains of last year’s cattails. 

Recently, as we picnicked at the New London Lighthouse, we watched the male blackbirds ward off crows who approached areas with blackbird nests.

Our second encounter involves male and female blackbirds. The females are not black or red winged but can often be seen around the cattails as well. Last week, when we stopped by the side of the road to photograph some ducks, a female blackbird landed in the cattails in front of me. She had food in her beak. I stood to watch and photograph her. Even with her beak full, she managed to make a blackbird equivalent of a bleat, then paused, bleated again, on repeat. 

I moved on and returned a few minutes later. Mrs., as I dubbed her, was in a different location. She repeated the same sound. Suddenly, a male blackbird about five meters above and two meters in front of me caught my attention. Mr. sang his best songs, and did aerial acrobatics. I had never seen anything like the dynamics of his movement. Just as quickly he was gone so I looked back for the female. She was gone too.

Was the Mrs. taking the food back to babies in her nest among the cattails? Was the bleat-like sound a call to Mr. to provide a distraction so Mrs. could deliver the food safely? It looked like it. We had seen similar behaviour in a pair of song sparrows too.

The more I watch birds, the more I admire their abilities to work together and as parents. Instinct? Whatever it is, it’s amazing!

Monday 9 July 2018

Life from the courtyard

Every summer I volunteer at the courtyard garden of Prince County Hospital, working with a team to tend the garden for the enjoyment of patients, staff and visitors. The last time as I volunteered, my mind wandered as it often does.

The plants understand. Those which live in the hospital garden know full well the cycle of life. It surrounds them in the courtyard where their own dramas play out. They also witness it through the windows inside the hospital rooms.

The stairs, behind glass, always attract the attention of the plants too. They watch as a young man runs up, taking two steps at a time. He almost collides with a nurse as he rounds a corner.

The irises have seen this before. They know the next day that same man will get off the elevator with a young woman in a wheelchair, carrying a bundle in her arms. The plants also know they’ll be back to do this again.

They’ve listened as an older woman in a wheelchair was assisted into the garden by that same young man. She wanted to feel the sun on her face again, see the rhododendron in bloom and hear the robins. She spoke of love as the young man listened and spoke the same.

Love is strange to the plants. They hear the word but don’t understand. Could love be how they feel when the sun shines or when it rains and they’re thirsty? Is it how they feel when humans help and admire them? Whatever it is, it or something like it, draws people to this courtyard, day after day, season after season, year after year.

Shasta the daisy nodded. “There goes another one running up the steps,” she said.

Friday 6 July 2018


On Canada Day, our nation’s birthday this past weekend, I accompanied our daughter and granddaughters to see the fireworks. The girls, five and seven, were hyped up on sugar because of the S’mores we’d had at a campfire in the backyard. The girls jumped, did cart wheels and hand stands and danced the time away while we waited. We giggled, laughed, tickled and reminisced about thirty years ago when their Mom was a girl too.

As I pulled the blanket over us on that cold July 1st, I thought about families all over the world and what they want for themselves and their children. They want freedom to speak and live as they wish, to love and worship as they choose. They want to care for and support their families, to contribute to their world and live in peace. However, these are difficult to acquire in our present world.

My family’s ancestors came from Scotland, Ireland and England. We will never know their reasons for immigrating to eastern North America centuries ago; their stories have been lost. Not the case for those who are new to our area, having come from various parts of the world, choosing to make Prince Edward Island their home.

How fortunate they are to have the knowledge of their original homeland and their cultures and traditions to share with their children and us. Our world expands and improves with the hard work of these newcomers, helping to build a diverse Canada.

Last year, my husband and I visited Pier 21, the Museum of Immigration in Halifax, Nova Scotia, the Canadian equivalent to Ellis Island. One of the displays was the Wheel of Conscience by Daniel Libeskind, a child of Holocaust survivors. 

The moving gears in the monument are a reminder of the gears in a ship and those in a Canadian government which turned away the ship MS St. Louis in 1939. It’s 900 Jewish passengers, whose names are inscribed on the reverse of the monument, were fleeing Nazi Germany. Canadian government policy on Jewish immigrants at the time was “none is too many.” Canada was their last hope so they were forced back to Europe on the eve for the war. Of the 900, 254 died in the Holocaust while many of the others suffered terribly.

The four moving gears represent hatred, racism, xenophobia and antisemitism which destroy a society. We must be vigilant to see that refugees and immigrants continue to have a place in the Canadian mosaic. 

The Canada Day celebration was an emotional one for me. Tears flowed as the fireworks exploded right above us. The occasion was a reminder that when we exclude others, “none is too many.”