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Monday 29 April 2019

Ground fog

It was striking! Driving by the fields near home, the fog rose from the red soil into the quiet air. 

After days of rain, the soil and air were saturated. 

It had been cold overnight and with the morning light, the sun warmed everything. 

The ground fog rising from the long field was eerily beautiful.

I had my camera as I often do and on our way to the boardwalk, we stopped to take in the scene. 

The fog didn’t have much elevation nor was it thick but it stopped traffic in several places as people admired the phenomenon.

Nature often surprises us!

Friday 26 April 2019

The horizontal tree

It is knotted and gnarled. The wood is weathered and the grain is exposed in areas. 

Insects or other animals have had their way with it too. It has little resemblance to a tree but the old twisted trunk and the spruce boughs stretched along the ground are distinguishable upon closer look. In many ways it is a horizontal tree.

This curiosity sits in the shadow of the lighthouse at Seacow Head, Prince Edward Island. The only other vegetation around the base of the lighthouse on the seaward side is grass, with a line of trees behind the structure.

On the leeward side of the tree trunk, a few branches bring nutrition to spruce boughs. Its seaward side has nothing but stubs of branches which have long ago succumbed to the harsh exposure, drought and freezing salt spray, though it sits meters above the Northumberland Strait.

Two years ago, when my husband and I first saw this tree, the trunk was taller and all of the spruce boughs were green. 

Now the trunk looks more shrivelled and the green of the boughs is limited to the tips. Time is ravaging the old tree although it looks like this survivor will hold its ground for another year.

How has this solitary tree withstood these harsh conditions to stand and eventually stretch across the Head? 

There might be a lesson here.

Wednesday 24 April 2019

Bits and bobs

The last of the snow from the front lawn is finally melted. We are always the last in the neighbourhood to lose the snow. The long driveway accumulates so much snow which is piled high by the plow. When it finally melts, the lawn is unfamiliar after the long winter.

The clothesline is out in the backyard again and the first clothes have been hung to dry. Comforters, duvet covers, blankets and bed clothes made the first loads. Consecutive days of rain and snow have precluded other loads but with the first sun, drapes will have their turn. That may be a week or more away.

Barbecue season has begun. The barbecue too made the spring migration from the garage to the patio on the last fine day and the first meal has been cooked there. The migration of the patio furniture doesn’t begin for another month or whenever the rain ends.

The neighbourhood crows are courting. This time every spring, the males do their fancy aerial acrobatics for the females. It is common for two or more to vie for a female’s favours, looking as if to dive bomb her, but she doesn’t flinch and appears amused by their antics. The size of the birds makes their acrobatics an attention grabber.

A beaver has moved into the boardwalk area again. The telltale signs around the bridge and the decreased water flow into the stream mean its dam is working. Other walkers have seen him but we haven’t been so lucky. My husband and I showed our granddaughters the chewed off poplar trunks and the dam area before he is shipped out, as was the last beaver who took up residence there. It is amazing the impact such a small animal can have on the environment. 

Finally, on Friday past, Canadian astronaut David St. Jacques had this photo on his Twitter feed, showing the Canadian Maritimes in their spring glory. 

NASA photo

St. Jacques is in the last half of his over six month stay at the International Space Station. Prince Edward Island is left of centre in the lower third of the photo. The snow and ice around this gentle little island is almost gone. 

Can blooms and blossoms be far behind?

Monday 22 April 2019

Out of the fog

The weather has been miserable for days with wind and rain and the promise of much more to come. However, compared to other parts of Canada, we don’t have any flooding. Early Sunday morning it wasn’t raining so I decided to go for a quick walk, with an umbrella in hand.

It was overcast at home but as I drove downhill, it was obvious the harbour was shrouded in fog. It changes the look of the environment and I was glad I had my camera.

It was low tide

and the fog made it impossible to see much beyond the shoreline. 

Over the hour I was there however, the fog appeared to dissipate somewhat. 

The city began to emerge from the fog 

as did the lighthouse, 

which had been invisible. I watched in the quiet of the Easter morning  

as the veil lifted giving the promise of a better day. 

How appropriate!

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.


Monday 8 April 2019


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


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.