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Friday, 19 April 2019

The maple

Corner Brook, my husband’s birth place, was built around hills. Every day, with his friends from the upper valley, he walked to school in the lower valley. As they made the leisurely trek to school, he passed his grandparents’ house in the neighbourhood he knew so well. The familiar houses of the Mercers, Lawrences, Newhooks, and Georges were near the little maple tree which the children loved.


It stood on a slope outside a fenced lawn and was just big enough to support the young children who lined up by her every day as they walked along. Each in turn jumped to grab the young sapling and drop to earth as the tree gave way under the child’s weight. As the child let go, the tree would spring back, as if eager to accommodate another child. The ritual happened every day for years.


And they all grew up. Many of the children moved away as young people do, seeking lives and adventures elsewhere but the tree was rooted. Today, more than sixty years later, a gray haired man finds the tree on a Street View of Google Maps. It is still standing proudly, its trunk, an artifact to those from the upper valley who shared their journey with her.










Wednesday, 17 April 2019

Ice island

It was visible from the boardwalk by the harbour, a mass of ice in the Northumberland Strait between the Summerside Harbour and the Confederation Bridge. 





We observed it for days as we walked the boardwalk in Summerside. My husband and I decided to try and locate the area to have a better look.


We decided our best vantage point was from Seacow Head. From there we’d see how far to go east or west along the coast for a better view. Seacow Head was accessible on foot which gave us a nice walk on the sunny but cold day.


We were both surprised to see the ice island just off shore, though greatly diminished,





probably caught on a sand bar. Just three weeks ago the scene would have looked different. 





Now, pieces of the ice which had broken from the island, floated with the tide. 





The next day, the island looked to be floating closer to Summerside. 






The temperature increased too so in a few days the ice will be melted. Just a curiosity of spring, it will be gone for another year.


Monday, 15 April 2019

The first for 2019

The temperature hovered near zero with some wind. After several mornings of snow recently and the long winter confinement, my husband and I were anxious to go for a drive, a walk and a picnic. We headed to Ferndale to take some photos and find a sheltered place to have our first picnic for 2019.


The old dirt road to the lighthouse at Seacow Head in Fernwood was soft and muddy so we walked rather than drove past the summer cottages to the lighthouse.





There is an unobstructed view of the Confederation Bridge from this area 





and the red sandstone cliffs stand above the rolling sea.





This area is exposed and required our best winter gear to protect us against the wind and cold. 





We walked around the Head and took some photos. Walking into the wind on the way back to the car was invigorating.


We drove out of Fernwood and into Chelton where we looked for a sheltered spot to have lunch. In cottage country, we found a lane to nowhere and parked. We set up our table and two camp chairs as the sun warmed our faces and the trees protected us from the wind. 


Our simple fare of crusty bread, eggs, cheese and olives was perfect with black tea. We savoured every bite and relished the start of another picnic season. If good health continues, the next six months will bring many such occasions. 


My kind of perfect!

Friday, 12 April 2019

Morning perspective

People from many locations in the Northern Hemisphere are writing about buds, blossoms, blooms, garden work, planting vegetables and flowers. Those spring events are almost two months away for us in eastern Canada. In the mornings this week on the island of Prince Edward, we have been greeted with snow, not a lot, but enough to cover lawns, trees and roadsides. 





It disappears during the day but its presence can be disheartening.


My husband and I are taking our usual walks along the boardwalk since our favourite hiking trails are still covered with ice and snow. After snow the previous night, 





the wind was missing on Wednesday as the snow began to fall gently around us. The birds were singing in the trees and the red-winged blackbirds were not as shy around walkers as they had been in previous weeks.





Although we are a long way from the traditional signs of spring, Wednesday morning in the snow was perfect.







Wednesday, 10 April 2019

The chore

Once again, the time to file an income tax return has forced its way into my life. I have always done my own returns from the time I had my first summer job. My parents had done theirs and taught me. It wasn’t too complicated and I often received a refund. Now it’s a chore.


My husband and I have been filing electronically for years now but the on-line information rather than book in hand is frustrating to me. Any information we cannot decipher requires a phone call. Good luck navigating the answering system of “if this...then press...” Whose memory of the list is that good at this age? Besides wait times are quite long this time of year.


The weeping, gnashing of teeth and hair loss it takes to navigate the system requires two of us. Our returns aren’t even as complicated as they were one time. This year however, I entered the data four times before we were finally able to complete the returns. They might be finished. One last check is all that’s required.


Maybe.


Monday, 8 April 2019

Overnight

Ice disappeared from the harbour last night. A strong northeasterly wind blew the ice offshore where it can be seen in the distance. It may return with a strong wind from the opposite direction.

In a few hours, this



becomes this.



It is unusual to see the open water in the Summerside Harbour after all winter. Before long though, the fishing boats and leisure craft will be on the water again. Lobster season is on the horizon.

Friday, 5 April 2019

Foxy

A storm was due that morning but my husband and I went for a walk before it started. Snow, rain and high winds could keep us in for days. I always take my camera. The usual subjects, squirrels, mallards, woodpeckers, blue jays, sparrows, and chickadees, are often present but there could be something different too. One good photo from every walk is a bonus.


We walked quickly, fearing rain or ice pellets would begin any minute. Peanuts and black sunflower seeds lined our pockets since we planned to feed any of the regulars we saw along the way. They would have to forage for themselves for a few days due to the storm.


The birds were talking in the trees but none were near the traditional feeding place when we headed up the boardwalk. However on the way back, we stopped to see the mallard couple by the bridge. Within minutes the usual birds and squirrels appeared. We enjoyed their company until my husband noticed a fox to the left of the bridge. It stared at us for several minutes, without moving. 





It was a large, multi-coloured, red fox with black ears, legs and tail with a white tip. The back haunches were white as was most of the front. There was a black patch under the face and a hint of black through the long white fur. The face had some of the red blond colour on the cheeks, around the eyes and the upper anterior body. The symmetry was perfect.


I was afraid to move for fear of scaring it but it looked to be waiting for something. Maybe it was accustomed to being fed by humans. We have never fed foxes and we’ve only seen one other fox in this area although we have heard them calling at dusk from their den. This one watched us for a time, then moved off. 





I hope squirrel wasn’t served for lunch.

Wednesday, 3 April 2019

Spring into freedom

One of the sure signs of spring in eastern Canada is a child on a bicycle while there is still snow on the ground. Such was the case recently when we accompanied our daughter and the kids to the boardwalk while the girls rode their new bicycles. 





As I watched them, I remembered what it was like to have a new bike, or even a “new to me” bike. The sense of freedom when I could ride off on my own was unmatched in my childhood. This ability to move around independently and quickly was thrilling. Riding with a friend was even better.


On the boardwalk, the girls rode ahead of us and stopped periodically to wait for us to catch up. 





They were thrilled on the bikes after the long winter and enjoyed trying them for speed and manoeuvrability.


Meanwhile their almost two year old brother didn’t want to ride in his stroller as he had done on our last visit there. He walked the entire way back to the car. The little guy was thrilled with his freedom to choose where to walk, on the snow along the side, the boardwalk itself or the nearby pavement. 





His mother indulged his joy in the moment while we walked ahead with the girls.


Love of freedom begins early.


Monday, 1 April 2019

Around sunset

The sun drew me down to the harbour in the evening. It was low in the western sky, shining on the wharf and buildings to the east.





Out at the harbour entrance, the sun illuminated one of the octagonal sides of Indian Head Lighthouse.





Within half an hour, as the sun touched the horizon, the east side of the harbour glowed. 





Out at the lighthouse, the light began its sentinel duty into the approaching darkness. 





Birds resting on the ice, lifted silently and headed inland for the night.


I watched as the blue deepened. Out of the south, a jet, probably out of Halifax, followed its great circle path as it rose above the tranquility.




What did the passengers see of this scene?


An occasional passing car broke the chilled silence as the temperature dropped. The glow was gone and the sky darkened across to the western horizon. Night had fallen.

Friday, 29 March 2019

Early spring at Cavendish

The sun draws us outside these days, even when the the wind is high. Such was the case yesterday when my husband and I headed to Cavendish Beach for a walk. The desire to be outside again is strong now as the daylight hours are lengthening and the sun feels warm.


Beach access was denied but we stopped at the look-out area nearby. 





Much of the ice which was packed against the shoreline weeks ago 



                                                                               March 13/19

has disappeared. Now pans of ice float in the Gulf of St Lawrence and are piled against the shoreline in a few areas.










We walked around the look-out, took some photos and left quickly. Georgie, the golden grand-dog was the only one who was warm.





Wednesday, 27 March 2019

The rose bushes

The rose bushes along the boardwalk by the harbour in Summerside are beautiful in the summer. Then autumn brings the beauty of the rose hips. This time of year, as the bushes emerge from the drifts and snow accumulation of winter, the branches and twigs are a highlight, though a few rose hips remain as well.




In one area, six rose bushes always catch my attention.




I love  the detail of the bushes against the vastness of sea ice and sky. A visit at sunset is magical as the darkness descends.


Then, focussing on a few of those bushes, one can see the Indian Head Lighthouse in the distance. 






The intricacy of every branch and limb of the rose bushes stands out against the ice and twilight sky.





The branches all but disappear into the setting sun.






Monday, 25 March 2019

Break-up

Evidence of spring is visible at low tide along the beach. The ice is melting and snow is collapsing and crystallizing along the shoreline and on the harbour. The sand is exposed in some areas now.



Cracks in the ice run parallel to the shoreline. 




At high tide, the sea fills the openings in the ice. 




Spring break-up has begun.

Friday, 22 March 2019

Minutes into spring

We began the evening at dinner with some good friends in the city for the day. A toast to spring was appropriate after the long winter. When we left the restaurant, far away the sun was crossing over the equator and the sky looked brilliant. I needed the camera.


By this time of day, the clear sky was joined by sister wind, adding a windchill factor to the twilight. Bundled up, I headed for the boardwalk to capture the supermoon on the frozen harbour just minutes into spring.


I passed other photographers on their way home with long lenses in tow as I headed along the trail. They meant business. With my point and shoot camera, I was drawn further into the quiet of the deepening darkness. 





Below the bridge, the mallard couple had returned for the night, swimming in the ever widening stream. 





The real attraction was the sky however, as the blue joined the colours on the western horizon.




As I walked along in the cold air of twilight, I wondered if I’d be able to stay long enough to see the moon over the harbour. But as I rounded the bend, looking back towards the city, I paused. 





The huge moon was like a beacon to spring. Its reflection was punctuated by snow drifts from the last storm, a reminder the spring melt will be slow.


The boardwalk in either direction was empty and the wind wasn’t high enough to howl, but the cold made me pull up my hood. The quiet was deafening. This place, alive with the sounds of people, birds and squirrels during the day, was now a bed chamber with a beacon cum night light. The blue deepened around me as I captured a few more shots and turned to leave.





As I walked along, I wondered where all the animals were nestled for the night but inspired by the occasion uttered, “Welcome spring.” Then all around me nature whispered, “Shhh.”


  

Wednesday, 20 March 2019

The mouser

We had a week recently with the golden grand-dog, Georgie, and she kept us busy. We always groom her at the beginning of our time together, my husband and I both trimming the long golden hair. Georgie enjoys the attention and the treats which accompany the procedure. There is always enough fur left to cover another dog.





Georgie also enjoys time in our backyard. During one of her visits there, we watched as she stared at the snow for a long time, dug for a minute and pounced on something. Then she came to the door to come in.


When she came inside, Georgie had a mouse’s hind legs and tail hung from her mouth. My husband and I both tried to pry her jaws open so Georgie wouldn’t swallow the mouse but to no avail. We had to give up and listen as she chowed down on the little creature.


Now we call Georgie the golden mouser. However, during our walks on the boardwalk with her, Georgie appears to be eyeing the squirrels too.








Monday, 18 March 2019

North shore in March

A beautiful March day drew us out of the house for a drive along the north shore of Prince Edward Island to the coast of the national park. We were the only people in the area.


There is still ice along the coastline 





but off-shore, the blue water of the Gulf of St Lawrence is a sign of what is to come.


Along the shore, the red soil is obvious after the winter winds blew sand over the grass. 





We stopped in several places where benches were inviting on this warm March day. 





It was a welcome change to sit and relax in the sun, which feels so good on the face.





The opening in the red sandstone cliff at Mackenzie’s Brook looks bigger since last autumn. 




Meanwhile, the sea ice languishes in the March sun.