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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


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.


Friday 15 March 2019

Working to spring

There is open water by the bridge 

but looking out the bay, the ice is solid. Far from shore, equipment and people are on the ice.

Two quads with four people are working at an oyster bed site. Work continues there all winter in spite of the ice.

The conditions this day are perfect.

It is zero degrees Celsius with little wind. The sun is bright and strong. In the distance, a truck is on the ice by a fishing shack.

It is a perfect day for smelt fishing too. However, rising temperatures with the warmth of the sun will make the ice unsafe before long. 

Spring is in the air.

Wednesday 13 March 2019

The porch

It is common to hear the word 'nar' used in Newfoundland to mean no. You might hear things like

"We caught nar fish today." 

Or, " I got nar cigarettes."

However, one of the most interesting uses of nar is with the word porch; the value of which is connected to the weather, an important character in the culture and lifestyle of the province. So much of what people did, fishing, farming, hunting, or harvesting wood, depended on the weather conditions. In fact, the long preoccupation with weather even continues today because it can change in a few minutes. If you don't like the weather, wait five minutes, is commonly heard in Newfoundland and other parts of Atlantic Canada.

As a result of the often harsh weather, homes in Newfoundland are designed for the elements. Whether a porch is attached to the outside of the house or the interior entry of the home, it is almost essential to any Newfoundland dwelling. It separates the main living area of the house from the outdoors, like a weather or windbreak. Years ago porches also served as storage areas for wood or supplies. 

The importance of the porch is understood by the saying,

"The worst thing you can have on your house is nar porch." 

So true...

Monday 11 March 2019

A nudge

Our daughter was an infant and I was still on maternity leave. We lived in Buchans, Newfoundland at the time. One Friday afternoon after my husband finished work, he and I left our daughter with our friend and went to Grand Falls to shop. Grand Falls is about an hour drive from Buchans..

How nice to get away for a few hours! The demands of being a new mother had taken its toll over the last several weeks. Getting away for a few hours would give me a new perspective, at least that's what I thought.

We shopped around as we did pre-baby and relaxed as we ate supper. What did we talk about? The baby of course! That day, it was amazing that shopping for groceries felt new and interesting after being house-bound as a new mother.

The beautiful winter evening was darkening as we headed home over the road to Buchans. We talked about our experience of parenthood thus far and plans for the summer. We were within a few kilometers of home when it happened. We looked to the left of the car, a Volkswagon Rabbit and there it was, along the center line, headed in the same direction, next to the driver's side door. When I looked over and up all I saw was the underbelly of a huge bull moose.  At eye level I could see its knees. My husband was surprised but kept going, steady as he usually is in such circumstances. The moose kept going as he was too, parallel to and inches from us. We soon outran him. Eventually that night our hearts returned to their regular beats.

We left an infant that day, totally oblivious of the potential danger to ourselves and the impact it could have on her life. We realized we had decisions to make about her future in case we weren't as lucky next time. We were nudged by a moose so we did our wills to take care of our daughter’s future. A new perspective indeed!

Friday 8 March 2019

Joy among the blue jays

On a mild sunny day, my husband and I headed to the boardwalk with food for our old friends.  The peanuts and black sunflower seeds are popular with the birds and squirrels. Sometimes the blue jays are not interested in the peanuts. This day, we enjoyed the antics of the jays as eight of them vied for the nutty treats.

When we stopped at the bridge, two blue jays sat in the trees watching the proceedings. As we put down some peanuts those two flew in for the nuts while others flew to the limbs they vacated.

Before long, the eight birds flew in succession to take the peanuts and flew out again to deposit them elsewhere.

The steady flight of birds onto the bridge,

the retrieval of peanuts

and subsequent escape into the trees 

was fascinating to watch as it looked like the effort was co-ordinated by the flock.

At one point, one jay, in her excitement to retrieve the peanut, knocked it off the railing. You can imagine her dismay but the photo says it all.

Every now and then, an experience in nature is joyous. Feeding the jays was such an occasion. Their enthusiasm for the peanuts we offered, their painted colours and beauty in flight, provided a rare glimpse into blue jay behaviour and an interaction we had never experienced before. Nature at its best.

Wednesday 6 March 2019

The giant

It is a giant in the field. The only tree for acres and acres. Someone decided long ago to leave it there when the land was cleared for farming, so it stands alone on an elevation overlooking the farmland and the countryside. It commands attention.

The type of tree or its age are unknown but the intricacy of its filamentous web of twigs is highlighted against the blue sky. They reach for space to give maximum exposure to the leaves which now are furled as buds.

The same twigs emanating from the trunk expand its dimensions and add to the intricacy of the old giant.

Hawks or eagles probably love this tree with its vantage point overlooking the fields. Crows and blue jays may enjoy this perch as well. Do the smaller song birds visit after the larger predators have had their turn?

Despite the chemicals which may be used on the fields, the tree appears to be healthy, though looks can deceive. I would like to see it through the seasons, to make a better judgement. For now, it stands dormant in all its naked beauty.

Monday 4 March 2019

Feel good story

If the sun is cloud covered, it looks like perpetual twilight every winter here on the east coast of Canada. Add the wind and it’s enough to keep me inside. However sun on a calm day changes everything. That bright ball in the sky which eludes us so much this time of year, has a profound effect on how I feel.

Add the sun and I want to go outside for a walk, take photos or walk among the shops downtown. Even the wind isn’t a complete deterrent on a sunny day.

The sun on your face on a calm day is welcome after so much time indoors. Warm coats, hats and mitts mean your face is the only area exposed. The light makes you reluctant to go indoors again though, wanting to capture just a few more rays.

Even if you don’t venture out, a sunny day warms the house. An armchair near the window is a perfect place to read a book in the warm embrace of the sun. Just a few more months and a beach chair will replace the armchair and a breeze will cool off that intense heat. That’s to come. For now, the warmth of the sun shining through the window is almost perfect. Even the wind doesn’t matter here though you can hear the gusts hitting the house.

In the car, even the necessity to use a visor against the sun is welcome compared to the alternative. There is a sense of elation which comes from a drive through the country on a sunny day, even in winter.

Soon the sun will melt all the snow and ice, soil will warm and embrace seeds for various crops. Again the balance of sun and rain will be crucial.

For now though, those rare perfect calm sunny days of March keep us looking ahead to the next one and the next, until the sun returns with its spring and summer heat and light. For now, we absorb when we can and feel good.

Friday 1 March 2019

Just ducky

The bridge at Grand River, Prince Edward Island, is an area where the water runs swiftly enough to prevent freezing. 

There are always birds east and west of the bridge and February was no exception. One day recently, I saw a variety of birds, especially ducks. 

They looked to be friendly with each other, some dabblers, others, divers. Below are American black ducks, male and female Common mergansers, Barrow’s goldeneye and Common goldeneye.

The black duck is stood on the ice. A male merganser has the tuft of feathers on its brown head. The females are white and black. The Barrow’s goldeneye has the white bars on its side. The Common goldeneye is in the front centre of the photo.

The next photo shows the difference in size from the large American black duck, a dabbler, to the Common goldeneye, a smal diving duck. 

In the final photo, I have all my ducks in a row, the Common goldeneyes anyway.