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Friday, 6 December 2019

The sounds through the trees

Our walks on the trails this time of year are predominated by the grey trunks of the trees which stand majestically along the paths. While colour is lacking, my husband and I sometimes feel compensated by the sounds we hear through the trees.

Tractors are a curiosity, many still busy in the fields, completing the last of the ploughing before the ground is frozen. It is a challenge to take a photo of a tractor through the trees although their colour helps.

Previously ploughed fields are alive with the sounds of crows and gulls. They are obvious overhead but we need a gap in the trees to see them feeding from the rich red soil. They make their unique calls to others of their kind as we watch and listen. The haunting cry of the gulls stirs up memories of salty beaches while the caw of the crows sounds utilitarian by comparison.

The most pleasant sound is that of a squirrel and its rhythmic squeaking from among the grey branches along the trail. “It’s in there somewhere,” I say as we search its location. 

“There it is,” my husband says after several minutes as he points to where the tiny creature is sitting in the grey menagerie.

Can you find it?

Answer to a question from a previous post:

From the post about Red squirrels, Joanne at asked “Do squirrels feed from those cones over winter?”

The red squirrels collect cones and place them in a pile called a midden where they add the discarded bracts as well. The squirrels collect enough cones in the midden to last all winter and beyond in many cases.

Tuesday, 3 December 2019

On the Rotary trails

One of our recent walks in the Rotary Friendship Park was on a rare sunny day. It was such a relief to be outdoors enjoying the fresh air again after a week cooped up inside. The  footprints of both humans and animals who had gone before froze overnight.

The walls of grey trunks around us reached their filamentous extensions overhead in many places, creating an arch against the blue. 

The path ahead led to the unknown. 

Downed trees were reduced to firewood in some places.

Remnants of farm life which cultivated this soil years ago hung from the trees, leaking memories.

Ploughing had finished on this field with a border of bare soil around the perimeter. I have never seen this pattern before.

Georgie, the golden grand-dog, always enjoys meeting new friends on the trails.

A pond along the way has begun to freeze. Before long it will resemble a skating rink. 

The trail passes fenced-in farmland in places which was a nice change from the walls of grey.

It was invigorating to be on the trails again.

Monday, 2 December 2019

Second thoughts

Recently I wrote about the day my husband and I spent at the hospital with a friend. That day made me think about a number of issues and some of your responses to the post, A glimpse, added to those. 

When we were at the hospital, it was obvious seniors were the vast majority of users of the facilities. As we age, our bodies wear and our use of medical services increases obviously. Sitting there, I wondered what health issues will bring my husband and I into the services. We have been fortunate thus far in staying away from the medical system except for maintenance services. How much longer can that continue?

While we may have support of family and friends as we face health challenges, ultimately we face these challenges alone, including the end of our lives. The experiences of life prepare us to handle these challenges. While death is solitary, the love of those who have touched our lives which may include God, carries us through to the end and beyond if that is our belief.

Linda at in response to the post wrote how a health issue in her family, when she was raising four young children, left her with a $12,000 debt after insurance. This is unimaginable to me. I take our income tax supported medicare system for granted. We do not rely on insurance to cover our major medical costs, they are covered by funding from the government. While I complain about waiting times to see specialists, a government funded Medicare system is a gift many don’t enjoy in other countries. That’s not to say our system couldn’t be improved, but we usually don’t go bankrupt or into debt for medical procedures.

My husband and I have medical and dental insurance so our regular health costs, such as prescriptions or treatments, such as physiotherapy, are minimal. For example, our prescriptions costs $3.10. Our monthly premiums are reasonable and continued into retirement. However, we know people who cannot afford their prescriptions which affects their health for certain. We need a pharmacare program in this country.

I live my life with gratitude which makes me a happy person for the most part. However, the experience of the hospital for a day made me realize, in a tangible way, that any day my husband and I are out on the trails or enjoying our picnics, there are many people going through health issues in the various hospitals around the island. Consequently, reasons for gratitude have multiplied and reinforced my drive to stay healthy as long as I can. At the same time, it has made me realistic in knowing that aging is a process of deterioration and decline. I hope to face it with courage and strength.

There are many wonderful health professionals in this country who give us the best of their ability and while not perfect, our hospitals are good facilities which are well maintained.

Even on the worst day of one person’s life, another person may be having one of their best. Life is a cycle and we have our turn with all aspects of it. We hope to have more good than bad but having the strength to deal with whatever comes makes the journey an interesting challenge.

Thank you everyone for your comments.

Thursday, 28 November 2019

Red squirrels

The Bonshaw Trails were spread out before us as my husband and I left  the picnic area and headed into the woods. Meters from the park, we heard a squirrel high in the trees. We stopped to catch a glimpse of the creature which sounded as if it was scolding us. When we looked up, a cone dropped from the trees to our feet.

An enterprising red squirrel was cutting cones from the conifers. The ground around us was littered with them. Later it would gather them for its winter supply. These little squirrels are some of our favourite little creatures.

On the boardwalk in Summerside, some squirrels will feed from your hand. They love peanuts in the shell and will run off with them, squirrelling them away for later. Sometimes they are hungry enough to break one open for a meal while you watch.

This autumn we saw a red squirrel with a mouthful of straw for its nest.

They don’t hibernate but remain active all winter.

Our golden grand-dog thinks she can catch any squirrel which crosses our path. If she is not tethered, she runs after every rodent for a few seconds before it scampers into the woods.

We witnessed the tenacity of these little creatures when some walkers left seeds on the boardwalk where one little squirrel was active. A crow flew in to feast on the seed, only to be scared off by the tiny squirrel. The bird squawked as it flew off. It met its match in the tiny creature.

Sometimes the rodents are mere silhouettes among the trees, especially in areas where people are not feeding them. 

We enjoy their antics everywhere we encounter them.

Wednesday, 27 November 2019

A glimpse

We sat in the main entrance of the hospital, surrounded by fellow seniors. Seniors volunteer at the information desk, and help direct people unfamiliar with the registration process. Notably, seniors are the majority of the people who have business at the hospital as well.

At registration, where you take a number, every wicket opened as patients checked in for procedures that day. We waited for the number to be called as the seats filled up around us, everyone needing directions to the appropriate clinic. Among those checking in, a child, young adults and middle aged people looked out of place.

Listening to the conversations around us, some like my husband and I, waited with a friend who had an appointment that day. People spoke of pain and its management, doctors they liked and didn’t, wait times in spite of appointments. Some sat alone and waited quietly. Several people used canes as friends linked into them, everyone eager to get on with the day.

We sat in several areas during the day. Young people had day surgery while family members waited. A roomful of grey heads occupied the eye clinic. The cancer clinic embraced people of various ages. A family waited excitedly as a young mother gave birth just as we had done when our first grandchild was born. In the chapel several people sat in quiet thought or prayer.

By supper time, the registration area and the various clinics and collection areas had emptied out. Patients left in wheelchairs, with patched eyes, casts on legs and arms in slings. A construction worker limped to a waiting vehicle. Otherwise, as earlier in the day, most were seniors, accompanied by fellow seniors or younger family members.

A day spent in a hospital watching the proceedings gave me pause. 

Sunday, 24 November 2019

A bovine serenade

We stopped to take some photos of St. Peter’s Island off the south central shore of Prince Edward Island.

When I exited the car, I noticed the young cattle in the adjacent field.

A bucket list moment presented itself.

Maybe you’ve see the videos. Someone approaches a field of cattle and begins to sing. I have always wanted to try it.

I didn’t have the courage to video the scene since my singing is nothing special. However, I summoned up my best soprano vocals and began to sing an impromptu song for the bovine audience. On other humans were around other than my husband. He doubted my sanity so he stayed in the car.

The funny thing was, the cattle did react and I took photos. 

When I started singing, several of them looked up and a few moved down opposite where I was located. Over the next few minutes, as I continued to sing,

cattle which had been minding their own business, looked towards me,

then stood up and moved to join the others opposite me.

Some farmers play music for their milk cows to soothe them. These cattle looked relaxed enough but it must be boring for them in the field day after day. Does the serenade break the boredom for the bovines?

You know I have to do it again! We don’t want bored cows on the island.

Friday, 22 November 2019

A scad of snow

We had snow overnight and the air was cold but without any wind. It was a fall morning when you could see your breath but conditions were perfect for a walk along the Rotary Friendship Park.

In Newfoundland vernacular, this amount of snow qualifies as a scad. It was just enough snow to highlight the landscape along the trail.

There are a few trees which have held their leaves in spite of the strong winds we have had for the last two months. 

The branches overhead draw the eye skyward.

A picnic table nearby won’t be hosting too many picnics this morning.

The trail between the fields kept us going on and on into the distance. 

By the end of our walk, the snow was melting. It was an invigorating walk with just enough snow for a taste of winter.



Tuesday, 19 November 2019

The new normal

Sunset is earlier every day. The daytime temperatures are just above zero and below zero over night. We have arrived at that time of year when our warmest clothes are not only out of storage but on us when we go for a walk. The windchill makes them necessary.

One afternoon recently, waiting for our granddaughter to finish dance practice meant time for a walk along the boardwalk. During these early days of winter conditions, we are adjusting to the cold and bitter winds again. It will be several weeks before our bodies adjust.

This view of the harbour will change in a few weeks as ice forms for another winter. Fishing shacks will be brought to the ice and residents will fish for smelt, one of the pleasures of winter. Before long those ducks, enjoying the last rays of this day, will search out the rare places where there is open water.

The days of muted daylight are on the horizon as well with the winter solstice a month away. Before long there will be days when it is impossible to walk here or anywhere as weather worsens and a nor’easter causes a white-out. Meanwhile we are adjusting to the new normal. 

Sunday, 17 November 2019

Close to home

There is a newer trail in our city which my husband and I hadn’t walked so one morning last week, we headed to the Rotary Friendship Park for the first time. The park, on east side of town, is as the name implies, supported by the local Rotary Club. It was constructed and is maintained for walkers, bikers and mountain bikers. 

The park has trails which go through forested areas and alongside fields, many in straight line paths. 

However, the mountain bike trails take you off these paths, up hills, down valleys and over boulders, an unusual sight in the woods of Prince Edward Island. 

Since it was an early weekday morning, we took a chance there weren’t any mountain bikers on a trail with an expert skill designation. It was a trail of hills and valleys, 

steep turns, boulders to manoeuvre around or over. 

The hills were a challenge but fun too.

 We also walked some of the novice trails. 

There are many trees down in this park, probably victims of Dorian like so many other trees around the island. Work is underway to clean up some trees which could be a danger in the future.

This park will be fun to explore during the various seasons and to watch the mountain bikers as they pursue the trails of various levels of difficulty. 

Thursday, 14 November 2019

The couple

On one of the trails recently, as my husband and I walked along holding hands near the end of our walk, we passed another couple. This wasn’t a typical couple we meet along the trail on a weekday morning. Usually we see other people such as ourselves, retired seniors out for a constitutional, taking in the scenery. This couple, wearing university jackets, looked about twenty and held hands too. They were beginning the trail as we were leaving. How appropriate! They took me back in time.

They were us not that long ago, though sometimes I feel every day of the fifty years we’ve known each other. My husband and I met in university, both in our teens. He was in a class with my friend and stopped to talk to her. She introduced us and so it began. Six years later we were married.

Looking at this young couple, I wondered if they would be together for a lifetime. If they are, it won’t be easy. The challenges and frustrations are many. I hope, if they do make a commitment, they will never give up on each other and will care enough to argue, listen, think, apologize and forgive. It’s easy to give up, to throw up your hands and walk away rather than fight for your togetherness. Staying together is hard work! 

Times have changed and young people today are marrying later than we did. I projected a lot on these two young people in this day and age. However, the seniors on the trail who wished them a good day, hope that life will afford them the same good fortune so that they too find that special someone to share the journey.

Tuesday, 12 November 2019

Bits and bobs 6

The patio furniture is put away, the garden has been put to bed and the mower exchanged for the snow blower in the shed. Another summer is put to bed. The snow was late arriving this year though so we delayed these chores until the last few weeks. The first snow disappointed us this past weekend. 

Recently on a visit to Charlottetown with our daughter and the kids, we experienced an episode of road rage from a driver in a truck covered in distinctive decals. He drove close behind us, revved his engine, blew his horn numerous times, slammed on his brakes to fall back behind us only to repeat the same. This occurred after our daughter didn’t allow him to cut in front of her at a traffic light.

We had three children in the car and didn’t want to alarm them so the adults made light of what was happening. However we were alarmed at this behaviour. After several kilometres, the driver pulled into a gas station, much to our relief.

Several weeks later, we saw the same vehicle in the parking lot of a local body shop and the front of the vehicle was gone from an apparent accident. It wasn’t surprising what had happened to that vehicle but I hope the man wasn’t hurt or that he didn’t hurt anyone else. Aggressive driving catches up with you eventually.

I was subjected to two email scam attempts recently, one claiming to be from the Canada Revenue Agency and another from Apple about my Apple account. The supposed CRA email claimed I owed money and the police would be notified about if I did not respond. The supposed Apple email said I had charged almost $90.00 for a game. If this was incorrect, I could check the information on a link, which I didn’t do. These scams keep me on my toes anyway. However, imagine the good which could be done in the world if these scammers put their time and effort into positive things instead of trying to swindle others!

There was a weather bomb last month. We had wind and rain for an extended period but it rained so hard for an hour that we couldn’t see across the street. We had never seen anything like it. It was as if a giant fire hose was positioned over the neighbourhood, pouring down on everything. Areas across North America have had the same for an extended time and have had major flooding. We were lucky.

If only scientists could figure out how to create these weather bomb conditions in areas where the earth is burning, such as in Australia and California.

Monday, 11 November 2019

Why do we have war?

Nanny, if we should be kind to others, why do we have war?”

These are the words of our seven year old granddaughter prior to Remembrance Day last year. Discussion in school sparked her interest in the day and she had questions. Important questions.

So another generation learns about the sacrifices made for the peace and freedom we enjoy today.

This two minute video by the British Army is worth a look.

                                                             Lest we forget

Thursday, 7 November 2019

Bonshaw moments

The field at the beginning of the trail was a source of joy for the golden grand-dog. Off the lead, she ran, jumped and hopped around the field which we had never seen her do before. 

While my husband and I walked the winding path through the field, Georgie managed to prance around its length. 

Her joy was palpable. I understand the feeling. 

When we entered the woods at the bottom of the field, the trial was covered in leaves. The sound of the crunching leaves made this walk different from most of our walks among the Bonshaw Hills. 

We had never visited when the leaves were underfoot as they were this day. Snow keeps us off these trails and the snow is later than usual this year. The crunch and shuffling leaf sound as we walked was nature’s rhythm section come to life.

I thought I would miss the leaves from overhead but such was not the case. The sound underfoot was welcome but so was the leaf covered undergrowth, in all its rustic-coloured glory. 

Interspersed with the ferns which are still thriving, the forest floor is enveloped in fallen beauty.

In several places, ground hemlock looked like its needles were diamonds, formed by the sun instead of the earth.

Along the trails, trunks of the trees were more noticeable now without the distraction of the leafed canopy.

Above, where leaves previously resided, now each twig has its chance in the sun. The white of the birch trees is always impressive!

We had a picnic in the park and watched as this unusual insect braved the 10 degree C temperature. 

It too was lucky the snow has stayed away so long this year.

We walked again after lunch and as the sun dropped lower in the sky, the shapes of the tall giants around us took focus. Everything about trees is magnificent.

It was another day when nature gave me a sense of well being. It lifted my spirits and spoke to my soul. I know exactly how Georgie felt in that field!