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Friday 31 July 2020

The wind through the wildflowers

The weather this summer has been peculiar. We have had hot days with high humidity, but we’ve also had high winds, making the temperatures bearable. These days are sandwiched between days with the temperatures below normal and the breeze cooling it enough to require long sleeves. The wind is a constant this summer.

One windy morning, we headed to the boardwalk early because of the forecasted humidity later in the day. The southerly wind caused white caps in the harbour. That sea was rough.

Also noticeable was the height of some of the wildflowers blowing in the wind. I am 165 centimetres tall or 5 feet 5 inches and many plants were at eye level. 

The roses are almost two meters high 

and I’ve never seen vetch grow this tall.

Queen Anne’s Lace danced in the breeze. Its younger blooms have yet to achieve the height of those nodding above them.

In early June, my husband and I saw a young child and an older couple, possibly her grandparents, place a small painted birdhouse on the remains of a young tree by the waterside. At that time, the three could easily reach the stick to place the birdhouse. The grass was no more than ankle high. Such is not the case today. The grasses tower over me, bending in the breeze. 

Goldenrod is beginning to bloom and has achieved an impressive height as it joins the other tall plants along the boardwalk.

We are in awe of nature!

Tuesday 28 July 2020

The Crick

It’s been a few years since we walked the boardwalk in North Rustico, a community on the north-central shore of Prince Edward Island, known as The Crick by locals. The area was first settled 6000 years ago by the Aboriginal people.  Jacques Cartier, a French explorer, sailed along the coast in 1534. Acadians settled here in 1790 and their descendants still live here today.

A fisherman statue, styled after the Acadian fishermen of the 1920s, stands proudly in the harbour. I wonder what he thinks of the various craft which pass by these days?

The boardwalk along the shore provides views of the harbour and along the way, apple trees and wildflowers line the paths. Brown-eyed Susans smile at us as we mosey along.

The channel through the harbour is busy today with a variety of vessels. Large and small pass near the old wharf as they make their way out of the well protected harbour. 

Outside the harbour, the boats navigate the channel through the sand bars which can shift position causing problems for ocean craft. There aren’t any problems today however.

We watch the boats then return along the boardwalk.

There we sit and relax on one of the benches and take in the scene which includes a heron. It looks as peaceful as I feel in this place.

Sunday 26 July 2020

The tree topper

The golden grand-dog and I headed to the boardwalk early. Georgie doesn’t make it easy to handle her and the camera but I brought the camera anyway. It was another cool morning with a breeze which precluded wearing shorts and short sleeves.

The gazebo was wind swept and as I turned on the camera, a seagull glided past. Then another one or so I thought.

On closer look it was a Great Blue Heron. I glanced at Georgie who was focused on a squirrel and as I looked across the water, there was the heron on the tallest tree.

It was easy to miss too. As a tree topper in the huge tree, the large bird looked small. However this was no mere tree topper. 

It moved around as sure footed as it is on land. It appears that when you can fly, fear of falling doesn’t exist. 

You would think the large bird would be clumsy in the tree but it wasn’t. It scanned its kingdom, shifting position to take in its entire domain. 

The bird must be lighter than it looks since the small branches at the top of the tree supported it.

Georgie was pulling me towards the squirrel so I looked at her and adjusted the lead. When I turned back, the bird had flown from the tree top and was headed out over the harbour. The Great had lived up to its name.

Friday 24 July 2020

Watch your step

During a walk on the beach in the national park on Prince Edward Island recently, we did not have to worry about social distancing. The beach on the north shore of the island had only four other people over several kilometres. We had a section of beach to ourselves.

The sandstone cliffs are always of interest along the coastline.

In the distance, a sea arch grows a bit every year.

The star of the day however was the Lion’s Mane, a purple starfish which is common in the waters around the island. On this day at low tide, it was common on the beach too.

This year the numbers of Lion’s Mane around the island are more than most islanders have ever seen. On the north shore, they were everywhere. Some were left stranded on the sand as the tide receded. Others floated in the waters which lapped the shore.

I stepped on one, slipped and fell on one knee from not watching where I was walking. Those stranded purple gelatinous creatures are slippery. While I didn’t hurt myself, I watched where I walked after that experience.

Thousands of the jellyfish floated in the water. In places they mingled with seaweed so it was difficult to distinguish them from the algae. Others  advanced and retreated with the gentle lap of the waves. Needless to say, we stayed out of the water. Their sting hurts. 

I watched some larger specimens are they moved up and down in the water, contracting and expanding the umbrella. The trail of hair-like tentacles from the underside of the bell shape give the jellyfish its name. A 24 second video shows its movement here. Their dance is like a slow twerk.

As we left the beach several people headed down to replace us in the sand and the jelly fish. 

Watch your step!

Wednesday 22 July 2020

The dog with two families

This is the story of a dog with two families. One family of four, a woman and three children, are the primary owners. The second, two senior citizens, look after the dog when the woman of the first family does night shifts.

The children in the first family walk the dog, help bathe her and play games with her. They sometimes give her morsels of human food. The dog loves being included in family activity and is always eager to go in the vehicle with them. She also sits on the couch on her special blanket.

With the second family, the dog can also lie on her special blanket on the couch. She plays games like find the hidden treat and eats food specially prepared for her to replace or supplement traditional dog food. She goes for walks with the seniors or on picnics where she eats too. She has stare down sessions with squirrels.

Any time the first family visits the second, they bring the dog too. She is reluctant to leave though when they head for home. On her last visit, she hid behind the seniors when the first family was leaving. Then when she finally headed towards the vehicle, she went back to the seniors again. They accompanied her to the vehicle. However, the strangest thing happened when she arrived back home with her first family. The dog refused to leave the vehicle. 

The look on her face says it all.

Oh Georgie!

Monday 20 July 2020


It was one of those moments again. You know, one of those times when you look around and it occurs to you what a perfect moment it is.

I usually live in the present and soak up the experiences I have with the people and the setting around me. I am a happy person as a consequence. I enjoy simple things, from playing with the grandkids to cooking a meal with my husband, coffee with a friend. My favourite things are walks in the woods or the beach with my family, time with the grand-dog and picnics. Reading, photography and writing fill my time as well.

I had made lunch which would be a leisurely affair under an umbrella on the patio. Later we would pick up the grand-dog since our daughter had three night shifts and the kids would be staying overnight on Sunday. I thought, “Life is perfect.” The last time I had this thought was the week before the Covid isolation was imposed. Look what happened then.

However I’ve come to realize that whatever happens, that moment was special and it was my own. No one could withhold it from me or diminish it in any way. It was my perception of my moment in time, a part of my life that felt perfect.

Life is a series of these moments interspersed with times of crisis, tragedy or sorrow which make those perfect times sweeter. Having those moments strengthens me to be able to handle the hard times. 

Watch for the moments. They may take you by surprise.

Thursday 16 July 2020

Now and then at the beach

The wave action causes ripples in the sand which the retreating tide exposes. 

In the distance to the left, the Confederation Bridge looms large. 

To the right, Seacow Head Lighthouse stands guard over Seven Mile Bay. 

This is Chelton Beach, a day use park in Prince Edward Island, a perfect place to spend some time. We visited the park with our grandchildren and our daughter recently.

Of course we had a picnic, after which we walked over the embankment to the beach where it was low tide. We set up on an exposed sand bar for a few hours until the advancing tide caused us to retreat to the shoreline. Meanwhile just off-shore, paddle boarders stood tall above the water. 

This beach had tidal pools but without the animals present at Canoe Cove. There aren’t starfish or clams to explore. Here the two types of jellyfish which frequent the waters around Prince Edward Island were prominent as well as varieties of seaweed.

The jellyfish, some transparent White Moon and lots of purple Lion’s Mane were of interest to the grandchildren because of their fear of being stung. 

The Lion’s Mane are called Blood Suckers by islanders and knowing that, the kids were sure to avoid them and not silently either.

They played in the sand on this beach, 

creating sand walls and digging until water filled the holes where they placed small White Moon jellyfish for observation. They certainly didn’t play with the purple ones.

I walked among the seaweed floating in the advancing tide. Fifty years ago, when I attended university, I enjoyed courses in marine biology. My childhood summers in Maddox Cove, Newfoundland, made me want to know more about nature. All these years later, the beauty of the seaweed waving in the water is just as fascinating to me as it was all those years ago.

Did I just write fifty years? 

Wednesday 15 July 2020

Wild and wonderful

The trails this time of year are bordered with wildflowers which always catch my eye. As the weeks go by, the succession of plants makes any trail look new. I always stop and take in the wild beauty along the way which makes any walk slower. However, these moments of beauty give even the most familiar places, an element of surprise and wonder.

Part of the parking lot near the boardwalk has a natural border of Spreading Dogbane now. It is such a welcoming sight.

St. John’s Wort is blooming along the trails now 

and Ox-eye Daisies are always appealing.

Queen Ann’s Lace is beginning its tenure 

as well as wild roses.

Bindweed always surprises me with its pretty bloom but I wouldn’t want it in my garden. It is an invasive species and is notoriously difficult to eliminate.

The areas with combinations of wild beauty competing for position along a trail are among my favourite places.

Vetch and purple clover join many wild floral scenes. 

There are over two months of this wild beauty left along the trails. I look forward to it!

Monday 13 July 2020

The vegetable patch

The raised garden plot in the backyard has brought us much enjoyment and nutrition in the past number of years. During that time, we have grown a variety of vegetables, some more successfully than others.

This year, we are growing cabbage, cauliflower, cucumber, tomatoes, peppers, yellow beans, kale, onions, lettuce and herbs. We bought our starter plants at a nursery in the country this year and the plants were sturdier than those available in the city.

We have been eating kale and lettuce for weeks now and the other vegetables are growing nicely. I enjoy the Russian kale with a sprinkle of flavoured balsamic vinegar.

Presently I am using a blueberry variety. A few leaves are enough for my husband and I. In the fall, I will blanch and freeze what remains. We usually have enough kale until mid winter. 

There are savings with growing these vegetables even taking the cost of the starter plants into account. For example, a three pack of peppers here is $6 or $7 this time of year and doesn’t decrease much as the season progresses. 

In another month most of the other vegetables will be ready for harvesting. If we have a bumper crop of tomatoes again, I will can some as I have in the past, making tomato jam, marinade or pizza sauce or just bottles of tomatoes. Knowing what is in your food is a huge bonus.

Besides there is nothing better than produce which goes from the garden to the table in minutes. It doesn’t get any fresher or better than that!

Friday 10 July 2020

With the kids

Our three grandchildren spent two days with us recently and it was both fun and exhausting. The kids were excited and my husband and I were rested in anticipation of the increased energy level required.  

We packed a great deal into the two days including time at the playground and splash pad, board games, time in the garden planting and picking produce, walking the dog, art, baking, movie night with popcorn done Nan’s way, a trip to the dairy bar for dessert and walking on the boardwalk. Mealtime sat around talking was always fun. Between mealtime and snacks, these kids are always eating. They love fruit and vegetables though.

The oldest of the three is wide awake, voice engaged, when her feet touch the floor. The other two are slow to start. The middle child, hardly speaks for the first hour, while the youngest is slow to begin but winds up quickly. The three couldn’t be more different. 

One of the highlights of the two days was their time on the boardwalk, feeding the animals. The three were excited to feed the birds and squirrels especially. We put peanuts in the birdhouse on the bridge and the parade of blue jays made quick work of them as they flew off with the shells.

The kids were excited to sit on a bench where we had watched a grandfather and a young grandchild sit and feed the squirrels previously. There weren’t any animals there when we arrived but we tapped on the bench with peanuts and the squirrels soon appeared. 

The three enjoyed passing the peanuts to the furry fast rodents. They soon learned that the squirrels wouldn’t take any peanut shells which were cracked open. After a few minutes, we had distributed a large bag of peanuts to numerous squirrels.

With the girls on their scooters, and the youngest on his balance bike, we continued to the end of the trail. Along the way we spotted four Cedar Waxwings among the dead trees by the harbour. I’ve only ever seen one before along the boardwalk so this was quite a sighting.

My husband and I thoroughly enjoyed the two days with the grandkids. We were both exhausted however, and napped when they left. The house was suddenly quiet but their voices will fill the quiet again soon. Yay!

Wednesday 8 July 2020

The trails through the green

The trail welcomes you in and the golden grand-dog was eager to go. The leafy bloom of summer is well established and various shades of green urge us onward. We accept the invitation and head into the Rotary Trail.

It is easy to walk here with groomed trails through forest beside farmland. Trails off the main path are designed for mountain bikes. There is plenty of room for anyone who wants to bathe in the green.

Bird song fills the air. We stop periodically to listen and look for the singer but to no avail. The trees hide them well now, creating anonymity for those whose song we don’t recognize. 

An unfamiliar song draws the eye upward and there it is in a dead tree, singing its heart out, visible. On this grey day, the sky provides little contrast but this Red-eyed Vireo allows a photo. 

Each section of the trail draws us onward. Around every turn, the path through another green vista invites passage. My husband and I keep going, through a cave-like opening, where the canopy darkens the path except where a spotlight focuses the eye.

We pass a stand of pine which is showing off its new growth. 

Within a huge stand of deciduous trees the canopy shades the forest floor which is covered green now too. Sarsaparilla and fern love this location. 

The canopy and the green floor create a huge room which mosquitoes love as well. We walk through quickly having forgotten the bug spray.

In more open areas, false baby’s breath

has replaced the lupins of a few weeks ago. 

We walked for an hour then left for home, refreshed in body and spirit.