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Sunday, 30 August 2020

Notes from the isle

Leaves are tired now after a busy two months. Many are dull and looking spent, ready for the burst of autumn colour and a quick requiem. I always feel sad as the glory of the summer leaves fades. 


We had an extended period of heat and humidity this summer. Thankfully it was windy most of the time, making the heat bearable. An electrical storm and rain last week changed the weather however. Since then, it’s been windy and cold, with temperatures below normal. Warmer clothes are the norm now.


There is a bounty of vegetables from the garden this summer. Every day we eat tomatoes. Cucumbers, yellow beans, and peppers are on the menu often. Cabbage is ready to be picked as well as onions. I will preserve some tomatoes since we have too many, even after sharing.


This time of year the shorebirds are busy along our coast as they prepare for migration. I enjoy watching these creatures as some skirt the waterline. Others blend into the rocks and sand along the shore and you can’t see them easily until you watch quietly for movement. Such a simple, wonderful pleasure in life is comforting during these troubled times.


We have had some tourists here this summer, but limited to other Atlantic Canadians where the Covid virus has had minimal impact thus far. Here on Prince Edward Island, we’ve had 45 cases due to travel with one not recovered and without hospitalizations or deaths. The damage to the economy is huge however and recovery will be slow. And that is without a second wave which could be more devastating than the first.    


The children are headed back to school next week and anxiety levels are high. Our two granddaughters, in Grades two and four are in different cohorts, with 30-40 students each. This will mean huge exposure if an infection occurs. This insidious disease which is asymptomatic for days can spread far and wide from one case at school.   


The research about the virus, its long term effects such as neurological or cardiac impairment and the possibility of re-infection are scary findings. Masks and the other precautions are a way of life now and into the foreseeable future. 


My husband and I lead socially diminished lives, restricting ourselves to our grandchildren and our daughter. For now anyway. With school re-opening, we may lose them again as during the first two months of the lockdown. At least my husband and I have each other even though there are times when the house isn’t big enough. It is good we each have ways to keep busy. However, staying physically active is a must and the physically distanced communication with other walkers along the boardwalk is a lifeline for us and many other seniors here.


There will be many apprehensive people in Canada and beyond this autumn.





Thursday, 27 August 2020

Lessons in cycling

The bike rack is finally in place and we can load up the bikes and head out for a few hours. I continue to use my daughter’s bike 





while my husband is using his e-bike. He would not be able to ride a traditional bike for any length of time due to health issues and the peddle assist gives him the ability to cycle.


We learned a few important lessons during our most recent cycling expedition. The loading and unloading of the bikes on the carrier requires some time. Now the newness of the process makes us slow to complete the task and we should to be faster with experience.


The e-bikes are over 27 kilograms or 60 plus pounds each so I have started using weights to strengthen my arms. I can lift the bike with my husband but I would like it to be an easier exercise.


I mustn’t look at the sides of the trail or that’s where I will go. I hope this disappears with time. If I catch a glimpse of something of interest, I stop and look. That’s how I photographed these Joe Pye Weeds.





There was a section of the trail with many beautiful blooms. At another stop, the Newfoundlander in me couldn’t help but photograph the dogberries. Lots of them mean a bad winter ahead. No surprise there!





Until I learn better control of the bike, I cannot ride too close to my husband. He has much better control of his bike than I do of mine at the present time. Also, walking through the gates rather than riding through them is a safer way for me to move through.


A little pocket camera, like the one I used for these photos will have to suffice. I won’t be able to ride with my regular Nikon around my neck.


My legs are strong and I did well with our 7 kilometre ride. We stopped a few times on the way back but I did well overall without a spill this time. 


We both love cycling and will go again later this week. The combination of walking and cycling now are great ways to enjoy nature and get some exercise. We hope to ride a few trails before the snow falls but a stop for a picnic is in the near future.







Tuesday, 25 August 2020

Wood Islands

We visited the Wood Islands Park on the east coast of Prince Edward Island this past week. This day use park is across from the ferry terminal and features a beautiful lighthouse. While my husband and I have taken the ferry on a number of occasions, we have never been to the park.


The ferry had recently left port for Nova Scotia and was visible in the distance.





It was a beautiful day and we walked around the small park as hundreds of Cabbage Whites made the rounds of the late summer flowers all around us. 





This one is a perfect specimen while many others look tattered at this point in the season. 


I saw something bobbing in the water periodically and watched for it to resurface again. It was a long distance off shore. 





This is the best photo I could manage of the seal who was fishing as birds flew over the water to the breakwater nearby. It is the first seal we’ve seen here on Prince Edward Island though they are common along the east coast here.


Cormorants and seagulls have taken up residence along the breakwater. It looks like a few Great Cormorants were hanging out with the Double-crested birds. Great Black-backed Gulls were obvious among the seagulls.





I walked down to the beach and was surprised to see dozens of Bank Swallow nests along the shoreline but not one bird was visible. They may have left for warmer climes already. 





Opposite this park is the fishing port of Wood Islands which lies adjacent to the berth for the ferry. Lobster season finishes at the end of June along this part of the coast so some boats are out of the water already.





Close to the lighthouse lies a Victorian Rose Garden planted there by one of the light keepers. Most of the roses are spent now.





However nearby, some of the biggest, reddest and shiniest rose hips made me wonder about rose hip jam. 





In one jam recipe, it takes a kilogram, 2.2 pounds of rose hips to give 500 ml or 2 cups of jam. You have to cut the hips and discard the seeds. I won’t be making that jam any time soon.


There is a back range light near the main lighthouse in the park. It houses an amateur radio station with an antenna nearby which makes the Canadian flag on top look like a postage stamp.





We had other stops that day and already were two hours from home so we didn’t stay long. However, this park is worth another visit.




 









Sunday, 23 August 2020

Birds of a feather

Over the last several years I have come to enjoy watching birds. These days, as summer is taking her last breaths, some migrating shorebirds spend time along the beach in Summerside. I enjoy standing in silence along the shoreline photographing the migrants and some of the full time island birds. Sometimes the results are curious.


This mallard had a perfect reflection in a blue stream.





As she proceeded up the stream, the reflection of the reeds on the water changed the scene entirely.





Sometimes I take photos facing into the sun to see silhouettes. These crows were such a photo.





The beach in Summerside provides perfect camouflage for some of the little shorebirds such as Semi-palmated Plovers. Can you find two of the little birds among the stones along the shoreline?





Taking photos of water while facing into the sun results in a silver setting for bird silhouettes. The Great Blue Heron is unmistakable.





The Greater Yellowlegs is not quite as easy to identify.





This is a Black-bellied Plover which I had seen earlier otherwise I would never have been able to identify it among the sparkles.





Sometimes you just want to have all your ducks in a row.





Update:


I mistakenly called the crows ravens. Thank you to https://her55kim.blogspot.com/ for the correction.


My husband and I hope to go cycling again this week. We’ve had to wait for a hitch for the car so we can attach the bike rack. I will use our daughter’s bike again. My new one isn’t expected for another month.


Tanza at https://www.healthanddynamiclife.com/ asked if there are wild horses on Prince Edward Island. While there are many horses on the island, there aren’t any wild horses. There are such horses on Sable Island off the coast of neighbouring Nova Scotia.



Thursday, 20 August 2020

Along the way 5

We passed this barn and paddock with the horses when my husband and I were cycling. I’ve seen horses at this farm previously but they’ve never been in the area near the road. I had to stop.





The old fence alone is reason to stop and look however. It looks like fences from years ago when you cut the wood yourself. In Newfoundland, people like my grandfather called this wood longers.  No pressure treated lumber here just longers which are nature treated over time. One such fence was built on a plot of land in Summerside recently. 





How many years has the fence been around this paddock? It has aged, looks ancient even and has so much character. It also does the job needed of any fence.





As I slowly approached, two of the horses walked away. However, the horse with the crescent on its forehead stayed.





It continued to eat, selectively picking its favourite morsels from among the ground cover. At one point it picked up a Queen Anne’s Lace with some grass but quickly dropped it. The lacy blooms are safe where the horses are concerned.


At one time, this farm had trotters for harness racing which is popular on Prince Edward Island and has a long history here. They ran in this paddock but these horses are much bigger than trotters. Are the days of harness racing over for this farm?





The barn is holding up well. With the horses and the old fence around the paddock this is an island farm setting which illustrates island culture and tradition.


Tuesday, 18 August 2020

Lots of lace

The wildflower Queen Anne’s Lace always grabs my attention. I notice it everywhere we go on Prince Edward Island this time of year. The plant has a root which resembles a carrot, hence its other name Wild Carrot but the lacy name is so much prettier. 


The bloom itself is a beauty one would want in a flower bed if it wasn’t so hard to control. Before long, the plant would fill the garden and a lawn. However, I love the sight of these tall beauties in the wild and I always photograph them.


The flowers grow out from the top of a stem in a cluster called an umbrel. 





There may be a single purple flower in the centre top of the umbrel as there is here.





Along the boardwalk by the harbour in Summerside, Queen Anne’s Lace grows among the other wildflowers.





My favourite photos however are those taken with the sea in the background.





During our recent visit to Black Marsh, Queen Anne’s Lace in one of the wildflowers which grows along the trails there.





In one area, it is an excellent companion for Fireweed which grows on the opposite side of the trail.





At the entrance to the trail, there is an area at least 15 meters long where the Queen’s flowers fill the space out to the edge of the cliff. There are hundreds of thousands of blooms. The sign warning of the edge of the cliff is redundant as long as these blooms are present blocking the way to the edge.





Before long, all blooms will be gone and the seed pods will have their own beautiful shape. 





This lace has a beauty all its own.


Monday, 17 August 2020

Inspired

This is the story of two people in their late sixties determined to ride bikes again like they did when they were kids. Well, not anything like that but you get the idea.


This pandemic has inspired us and many others to buy bicycles. We tried our daughter’s bike and enjoyed the freedom of the open air along the way. We’d like to take our bikes to various areas of Prince Edward Island to ride the trails.


One of the blogs I enjoy, Debbie @ It’s all about purple, link below, has an ebike which she uses in and around New Jersey. She inspired me. My husband was eager to try the ebike too when he learned of it. Debbie


We ordered two Rad Power bikes, one of which arrived this week. Mine will arrive in September. These bikes are peddle assist with a battery which can help if you need it. We have health issues which will make the assistance valuable when required. Our younger selves could never have imagined such a bike. We had to try it. 


Off we went at 7 a.m. to one of the local trails. It was going to be a hot day but the early morning breeze made the heat bearable at this early hour.  I had our daughter’s bike again and my husband was on his new Rad. We were doing well until I had to go through a gate to the trail. Down I went on my left knee, as if in slow motion, onto a mass of tiny pebbles below. It was hard to rise with the bike on top of me. I had pebbles stuck in the broken flesh of my knee but no other injuries. I was able to continue on and even tried the new bike with and without the pedal assist.


Along the way, a man in a wheel chair wheeled himself along the trail while a friend walked beside him. That man was an athlete in every sense of the word. While we were stopped to clean my knee, a man with a prosthetic arm sped by on his bike. These men also inspired us.


We hope to ride in different areas of the island on the Confederation Trail, the Heritage Roads and in the National Park on the bike trails. Cycling is another dimension of physical activity and experience we hope to enjoy for as long as our health allows. 


I feel like a kid again waiting for her new bike and so excited to ride. I hope my knees can take it though. I’ll keep you posted.


Thursday, 13 August 2020

Black Marsh Trail 2

It’s a long way down so I didn’t want to stand too close to the edge. Fences keep people safe in a number of areas.





Lookouts, strategically placed, provide good views. The coastal path of the Black Marsh Trail is one of my favourites.


This trail parallels another trail through the forest along North Cape, each part of the trail providing a unique island experience. Both open to the Black Marsh, a huge peat marsh which drops off the sandstone cliffs onto the beach 10 meters below.




There are some unusual plants on the Black Marsh. The only one we could find was the pitcher plant. 





My husband and I are from Newfoundland and know this plant well since it is the provincial flower of that island. The plant lacks chlorophyll and is carnivorous which attracts insects into the pitchers on the ground where they are digested. The flowers are unique. We didn’t expose the pitchers in the bog at the base of the plant because we didn’t want to disturb the marsh.


Walking along the coastal trail near the marsh, one sees the effect of the icy blast of winter on the trees along the cliffs. 





They are art now, weathered remnants of former majestic glory. They have found an artistic raison d’ĂȘtre in this natural gallery until the sea finally claims them.





The sea stack draws visitors to this place as well. It has changed over the years of course, from its days as an elephant in the late 1990s to the shape it presents today. 





On the way back along the coast, we stopped at the lookouts. 





The trees clinging to the edge of the cliff defy gravity.





I walked the trail to the lighthouse and watched as seagulls floated on the breeze. 





Bank swallows darted overhead. After numerous photos, I captured this shot of one leaving the nesting area. It’s hard to capture bank swallows in flight.





We had a picnic and made a few more stops before we headed home. 







Tuesday, 11 August 2020

Black Marsh Trail 1

The Black Marsh Trail is one of my favourite trails on Prince Edward Island. Located at North Cape on the northwest tip of the island, the trail has two routes, through a forest and along the coast. My husband and I have walked a number of forest trails on Prince Edward Island but none is as unique as this one.


I vividly remember the last time we walked here in April 2017. Snow lingered among the trees then and everything was brown. The effect of the icy blast of wind off the water/ice has a huge impact on the trees which is particularly obvious in winter when the deciduous trees are bare and the other vegetation is dead. 





However, you can see the effect in summer as well.





This is the location of a wind turbine farm so if the sight and sound of wind turbines bother you, this is not the trail for you. I don’t hear the sound after a few minutes. My husband does but enjoys the trail in spite of it. 





The seaward side of the coniferous trees along the forest trail show damage from the icy blast of the wind along this coastline. 





The deciduous tress and shrubs, if they survive, grow to fill in the path through the forest along with some wildflowers. We stopped several times to take in the green tunnel.





The open parts of the trail pass beside the turbines in some places. In various areas the trees show the damage. The Queen Anne’s Lace and goldenrod are some of the few wildflowers which can live here.





Before long, we came upon one of the entrances to the coastal part of the trail. 





The two sections merge before you reach the Black Marsh. But that’s part 2.