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Friday 30 November 2018


The Seawalk by the harbour at North Rustico is a favourite place for a stroll. The fishing community is a hub of activity in the spring and summer. It is quieter in the late autumn as the tourists are long gone and life has returned to normal for the residents.

The walk by the bay passes through some trees along the shoreline and is never more than a few meters from the sea. 

The small birds along the path are missing today but the larger birds still hang out in the harbour.

Canada geese have yet to leave for warmer climes but they remind me of the old nursery rhyme, Christmas is coming, and the geese are getting fat. 

These birds are ready for the long journey if their baggage is any indication.

Further along the Seawalk, a lone Black-backed gull digs through the snow into the seaweed gathered along the shore.

American black ducks look quite comfortable floating in the harbour.

In the distance, at the entrance of the harbour, the houses, wharves, and summer businesses look deserted.

However, one small boat has yet to be pulled ashore ahead of the winter freeze-up.

We crossed the road and headed to the beach, part of the national park. 

On our last visit, the beach was crowded with sun bathers and swimmers. Today there is an avian crowd, Herring gulls atop the tons of seaweed accumulated along the beach over the last few months. 

As we made our way back, it was noticeably darker. But that’s another story.

Wednesday 28 November 2018

The fisherman

He stands in the harbour at North Rustico, Prince Edward Island. The fisherman statue represents the Acadian fishers of the 1920s who used handlines to catch fish, an environmentally friendly method which was labour intensive. His right hand holds the handline and in his left, a fish.

The Indigenous people, the Mi’kmaq, had camps in this area 6000 years ago. White men sailed along this shore in the 1500s. In the 1700s they began fishing this area and by 1800, Acadians had settled here. Their descendants still live here today.

The statue illustrates the importance of the fishing industry to the area. Fishers can trace their ancestry back through many generations. The sea and their quest to feed their families and make a living have shaped who they are.

As the sun goes down, the bronze fisherman stands in the dimming light, the water lapping at the base which supports him. 

He becomes a shadow now, but is as real to his progeny as he ever was. He is part of them, a gene in their make-up, a link in the family chain. Day or night, wind or rain, water or ice cannot affect him any more. He lives in their hearts.

Monday 26 November 2018

Caught over

It’s been really cold for November, with temperatures below zero and high winds making it feel in the -20s Celsius. I’ve watched the harbour for days now, expecting it to freeze, though it would be earlier than usual. Saturday morning, as I drove past the harbour, it was filled with slushy ice.

Friday night, it wasn’t. The night had been bitterly cold and as people began their walk along the boardwalk Saturday morning, they spoke of the early return of the ice. Too soon was the common sentiment.

The wind was high as I took some photos, making it difficult to keep the camera steady with uncovered hands. Aim and click, quickly!

“The harbour’s slushy. Won’t be long now and she’ll be caught over,” I said to my husband when I returned home. He understood the Newfoundland phrase perfectly. He too has been watching the harbour for the formation of ice.


Note: In true Newfoundland vernacular, caught is pronounced cot.

Friday 23 November 2018

MacNeill’s Brook Shore

MacNeill’s Brook empties into the Gulf of St. Lawrence on the central north shore of Prince Edward Island. The beach attracts attention at this location.

The stairs to the beach are pulled up now in anticipation of the winter storms. The sea looks cold but it is warmer than the land at this point in the season. It is -2 C today and there is a light breeze.

Snow clings to the cliffs, 

evidence of the first snowstorm of the season and it covers the shoreline, though the beach is bare. In several areas, sea foam gathers along the intertidal zone. 

The roar of the sea and the fresh salt air are invigorating!

My husband and I stand for a few moments, cozy in our winter gear as we listen and watch the waves. Their constancy is reassuring in a world where it sometimes feels like the only constant is change.

Wednesday 21 November 2018

Garden wonder

Hats, mitts, snow boots and winter coats made the cold bearable for my husband and me as we finished the last of the garden work for this year. The hated job of tying up the barberry bushes, trying to avoid the long thorns which protect them, makes us put off this job every year.

                                              The barberry bushes in better weather

Earlier this month, on a warmer day, I had trimmed these bushes and discovered a bird’s nest in the tallest of the four plants. 

We knew there were nests among the plants in the front yard but it wasn’t until the leaves fell that this nest among the branches and long thorns was visible. We believe it’s the nest of an American goldfinch.

One day in late August, we observed a female goldfinch, coaching a fledgling, on a branch of a Potentilla in proximity of this nest. When she was aware of our presence, she flew to an overhead wire and sang her best melodies, in a effort to divert our attention away from the young one.

The chick looked nothing like a goldfinch, with its wispy head feathers and its dark colouration. 

Later in the day, both birds were gone.

We also covered our male and female holly plants with burlap. I have nursed this pair for four years now and the female is growing beautifully. Despite my best efforts, the male is stunted and every winter, I lose a bit more of him. However, as small as that plant is, the female plant has berries, so he is doing his job, as tiny as he is.

Gardens are a wonderful way to interact with nature at your doorstep! How fortunate are we who can participate in the wonder!

Monday 19 November 2018

The sky at Grand River

We stopped at the Grand River on the way home one day last week. There have been few blue skies lately and the river reflected the low, heavy, gray-blue cloud. 

However in the distance, the sun was trying to break through and shafts of light shone through in places.

Over the ten minutes we were there, the sky cleared in various areas as the sun brightened the landscape.

Then a patch of blue sky appeared overhead,

teasing us after the dreary days we’ve experienced recently. The clouds didn’t clear but we saw enough blue sky and blue water to give us hope.

We are optimists!

Friday 16 November 2018

Here lies...garlic

My husband and I enjoy growing food in our small garden plot. We still have some of the grape tomatoes we grew this year and blanched kale in the deep freeze. 

This week, I finished the bed for garlic I’ve worked on this fall. My friend Lucy gave me some of her home grown garlic this past year and I am determined to grow some myself. Store bought garlic has no resemblance to the flavour of the garlic Lucy grows.

I cleared out a shrub and some irises from the designated spot and expanded it. Then I added soil, composted sheep manure and seaweed to the bed. Next came the three varieties of garlic cloves which I had from Lucy, including Music, my favourite. I covered the bed with seaweed and a thin layer of soil to prevent the seaweed

from blowing away with the high winds.

I hope this effort produces garlic next summer. Thus far however, it looks like I buried a body in the back yard.

Wednesday 14 November 2018

Golden in the red

The golden grand-dog, Georgie, continues to accompany us on hikes and with all the rain this last month, it is a challenge to keep her out of the water. However we decided to let her run anyway, since she enjoys it so much. We would deal with wet dog later.

Georgie had a great time, running as she usually does and through every puddle she could find. The deep red muddy water was her favourite of course. 

Drying her enough to sit in the car involved both my husband and I and two old towels which we bring with us any time Georgie accompanies us. 

After she dried, we brushed fine red dust out of her fur. 

A run, dirt, water and mud, any dog’s dream. Well this one anyway.

Monday 12 November 2018

Who are we?

One of our neighbours, a senior, lives with her daughter, who experienced a brain injury as a child. The injury left the younger woman, I’ll call Janet, with serious deficits. Janet runs in her fenced back yard every day, with her therapy dog. Periodically though, she finds her way out of the yard. This happened this past weekend, when the high winds blew down a section of the fence. 

Janet loves running, so when she can has an opportunity to run in a larger area, she does. My husband and I saw her running down our street which she doesn’t normally do. We phoned her mother, who hadn’t seen Janet leave the yard. We offered to look for her and help her back to her house.

By the time we donned winter gear, there was no sign of Janet. We headed down the street, one on either side. The wind was too high for our voices to be heard calling her name. The cold was numbing!

Then we spotted her, on a neighbour’s door step, knocking on the door. There were three cars in the driveway and we could see someone inside through the door. We both went to the doorstep and spoke to Janet, who knows us and offered to take her home, just a few houses away. 

Janet was cold which was why she was knocking on the door. She does not recognize the area though it is close to her house. I gave her my mitts and linked into her. She wanted to continue her run so she did but fell down. Luckily, Janet was wearing a helmet for protection. 

We walked her home and my husband and I patched the fence so Janet could enjoy the yard safely again. Then we headed out to our daughter’s house but as we drove out of our sub-division, the local police were headed in there, to look for Janet we suspected. This always happens if she runs on the road.

This incident greatly saddened my husband and I for two reasons. How can we live in this small area and not know our neighbours well enough to know Janet and her situation a few meters away? I guess this is what happens when we live in a society where people drive into their garages and never take the time to speak to the people next door or a few doors away.

Secondly, nobody came to the door of that house for Janet when she knocked nor for my husband and I as we stood there helping her. They saw us. The door stayed close. What is wrong with people? Were we considered a threat? Did they not want to get involved?

If they had opened the door and spoken to her, Janet would not have been able to tell them much but they could have kept her warm while they called the police. I cannot believe one’s first instinct is to call police and not try to help. 

We don’t live in a big city. Guns are not an issue here and anyone who sees Janet would never think that anyway. Yet on a bitterly cold day, people would let her freeze rather than take a chance. It was forty-five minutes before the police came to the area. Where would Janet have been by that time and in what condition?

There was a time when neighours looked out for each other, helped each other, knew each other, were friends. This is not the case in this neighbourhood. However, you don’t have to be someone’s friend to help her on a cold day, or help a vulnerable person. This is a sad comment on our neighbourhood and I can only hope it doesn’t reflect our community in general.

On another note:  For several days now I have been unable to comment on the blogs I follow. Neither am I able to respond to your comments on my blog. I miss these features!

Friday 9 November 2018

Au naturel

The last few years, having paused to observe trees, I am in awe of their lives through the seasons. This time of year, when the deciduous variety find themselves naked against the impending cold and snow, trunks, exposed branches and twigs have their time in the sun. Trees stand against everything nature offers over the next six months, frost, wind, ice and snow. The elements may change their appearance but not their essence.

I often notice the trunks of birch trees, their white exteriors stand out in the forest. This one, on the side of Hackeney Road looks like it’s endured hard times. The trunk is gnarled in spite of its youth.

In Tyne Valley, three trees of the same species are devoid of leaves but still show a hint of red. The twigs form a filamentous wall in front of the house.

Walking between the raindrops one day last week, my husband and I ventured to the boardwalk in the late afternoon. It was a gray day and the moody sky and the late afternoon light accentuated the finest, most delicate twigs. 

We stopped to admire the layers of gray from sea to sky, with the band of light breaking through. How different the same scene will look with a blue sky. Regardless of the background, the tree draws attention.

Finally, a sunset along the boardwalk highlights young trees against the dimming light.

While their clothing is gone now, trees have much for us to enjoy during late fall and winter.

Wednesday 7 November 2018

Bideford at Tyne Valley

The dam on the Bideford River at Tyne Valley was overflowing, a watery veil with a thunderous sound. It invited exploration.

This is one of the many rivers on Prince Edward Island with a fish ladder, allowing various species of fish to move to and from the sea. 

Above the dam, the air was still, the water without a ripple, reflecting the trees and the gray sky. The only sound was the waterfall.

Along the shore by the dam, a maple tree with its autumn-yellow leaves, showed every vein. 

A nearby tree, naked except for its red fruit, stood nearby, waiting for the birds. 

Such a wonderful combination of construction and natural beauty!

Monday 5 November 2018

Oysters anyone?

We’ve seen Trout River, Prince Edward Island, full of oyster fishers. Such is not the case on this cold, 7 C or 45 degrees F, last day of October. There are only two oyster fishers today, one on either side of the bridge.

The season is open in these public waters until the end of November despite the cold. The Malpeque oyster variety is at its biggest and plumpest this time of year. They grow in the summer and plump-up during the autumn, ready to sleep for the winter months.

The two fishers were busy with the tongs/rakes, leaning over the side with the long tool which they lowered into the water. The open tongs were closed over the bottom and pulled up to the bow where the catch was inspected.

Undersize oysters were dropped into the water and each attempt yielded a few oysters.

Looking at the two fishers, all I can say is, “Respect.”

Sunday 4 November 2018

Last resort

The walking track at Credit Union Place, CUP, in Summerside has become a familiar place these last few weeks as the weather has made our usual walks and hikes impossible. The track, which circles the stands of the largest of two ice surfaces in the complex, is a good place to walk.

While it is a world class facility, it cannot compete with the great outdoors, the boardwalk, heritage roads, beaches and trails we love so much.

For me, it is better than the treadmill which bores me to death. Every minute on that thing feels like an eternity and I am not a person who bores easily. 

While today is a beautiful sunny day, the wind is gusting up to 100 kilometers an hour. This is not a day to go for a walk. Trees are coming down around the island and the treadmill is calling! Wish me luck.

Friday 2 November 2018

Winter prelude

Autumn has been a miserable business of colder than normal temperatures, high winds and rain, lots of rain. My husband and I have waited for the few hours between raindrops to get some garden work done and go for walks and hikes when we can. They have been far too few however. While the cold doesn’t defeat us, the rain and high winds do.

We did manage a short walk on the Hackeney Heritage Road west of Summerside this week. On a day wihout wind and rain, we collected Georgie, the golden grand-dog and headed out. When we finally released her on the red dirt road, Georgie ran as if possessed, so delighted to be free again. We knew exactly how she felt.

This old road is believed to have been built just over one hundred years ago. Prior to this road, the area had a cart track and a stagecoach road through its southern end.


Fields and woodlands border the old road today, but the wind has stripped most trees of colour already. The road has pot holes and ruts full of water, muddied red from the iron-rich soil and the weeks of rain. However, the turn near the beginning of the road drew us in. 

We dodged the water

and periodically walked through areas which were more protected from the wind and still had some colour. 

The desire to arrive at the point in the distance kept us going.

Fields have yielded their summer bounty. Leaves and tiny potatoes rejected by the harvester, cover the fields. The lack of sufficient rain kept potato size small this year. Now the tiny tubers are wasting away on the fields.

In several places along the way, remnants of buckets and a kettle hung from trees, reminders of old homesteads.

At the halfway point, a boat looked at home in a field, a sure sign of the season.


Hackeney Road would be a great place for snowmobiling, snowshoeing or skiing. Soon!