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Tuesday 29 September 2020

Look down

About this time every fall, a walk through the woods causes us to look up at the coloured beauty of the deciduous trees as they relinquish their leafy greens.

However, if we only look up, we will miss the beauty of the forest floor.

Recently along the trails at Rotary Friendship Park, the undergrowth drew the attention of my husband and me. Summer green has paled or become a combination of yellow-green or yellow. 

Taking in the full scene spread before us, the hint of orange-red with some summer green fills the spectrum for autumn colours right at our feet.

My favourite autumn scenes include ferns. Some stands of the feathery plants are almost completely yellow. A hint of green around the perimeter is the only remnant of summer’s colour. Red in the plants in the background enhance the scene. 

Young trees add their own beauty to this stand of ferns.

Coniferous trees line the trail in some areas and ferns in various stages of colour fill the spaces between the trees.

Some species of ferns have yet to “autumnate” and their green adds another layer of colour which includes trees in the foreground and background.

While I love the new green on spring, the vegetation of autumn makes my heart sing. 

Sunday 27 September 2020

Farm country

We cycled four times last week, with our latest outing on Saturday. It was a beautiful autumn day, with a breeze cool enough to be comfortable. We rode eastward in the centre of the island along the Confederation Trail, in an area we hadn’t explored previously. We enjoyed the countryside and everything it revealed.

The area is farm country and old barns were a common sight as we rode along. 

Fields of crops such as potato almost ready for harvest or field corn, 

are common sights on the island. 

However, we also passed a huge field of carrots, some harvested, 

some still in the earth. We had never seen such a field.

Old barns were a common sight but one newer barn held cows.

Outside that barn, a vine had taken over the usual vegetation, covering it completely.

Asters and goldenrod are growing along the sides of the trail but daisies were prominent along the edge of the trail and fields over a two kilometre stretch. They were a pleasant addition.

Near another old barn, four horses were feeding on hay. There wasn’t enough rain this year for grass to grow much. 

One house near the trail is obviously the home of a fisherman. An old boat lies in repose out back 

and nets are drying nearby.

People are preparing for the cold weather, getting wood ready while the temperatures continue in the comfortable range.

It is interesting to have a glimpse into the lives of farmers and fishers on the island as we ride the trail which connects all of us.

Thursday 24 September 2020

Lighting the way

Lighthouses figured prominently in our summer of the pandemic. We visited a number of them in different parts of Prince Edward Island. While we don’t often visit eastern PEI, lighthouse visits were worth the drive a few hours away to see the shining sentinels.

We visited Cape Bear, on the southeast corner of the island. Built in 1881, the tapered square stands above the cliffs casting its light over the Northumberland Strait. 

While we were there, a fishing boat passed nearby, illustrating the need for the light along the coastline in the days when it was established there.

What is unique about this place however is by 1905, another building at this location housed a Marconi wireless telegraph station. This was the first Canadian station to receive a distress signal from the Titanic in April of 1912 after the vessel hit an iceberg on the Grand Banks, off the south coast of Newfoundland. Cape Race in Newfoundland received the first signal but Newfoundland was not part of Canada at that time.

Today the Marconi building is gone but the lighthouse has a museum where one can see the links to this past.

We had a picnic lunch under trees within sight of the cliffs.

Then we drove north along the coast to see the Panmure Head lighthouse.

It was built in 1853, the second built on PEI, a wooden, octagonal structure with a keeper’s house nearby. The light was automated in 1985. The four story structure is now maintained by a local group, as are many of the lighthouses on the island.

In an adjacent field, two horses grazed, unconcerned about the steady stream of visitors nearby. 

On the water, recreational craft speeded past or caught the breeze in their sails. 

Below along the shoreline, people enjoyed the beach.  

For this lighthouse lover, these two were well worth a visit.

Wednesday 23 September 2020

Bicycle by the sea

It was a beautiful September day and we drove to the national park on Prince Edward Island in advance of post tropical storm Teddy. A year ago, a similar storm, Dorian, caused a tremendous amount of wind damage and our visits to the park were finished for the year.

With the possibility of another park closure, we had what could have been our last picnic in Cavendish Grove for 2020. We picnicked on a red bench which in the spring offers a great view of the water where ducks and geese swim with their young. This time of year, the pond is dry and grown over. Asters bloomed around us.

We brought our bikes along for our first expedition off the Confederation Trail. We started in the Grove after lunch and cycled to the Homestead Trail, through forest and farmland along by the sea. This trail was an adventure. 

It has a gentle but long downward slope which sounds great for a cycler. However for this senior, new to biking, the trail had a rut which I had to stay in as I sped downward, brakes engaged and nerves frazzled. If I strayed out of the rut, I was in the trees or up on lumpy grass and who knows where. Either way would have been disastrous. The shadows on the trail and my poor eyesight made it hard to see details of the trail too. I cycled downhill on a balance beam through a tunnel of trees with impaired vision.

At the bottom of the slope, I stopped and cheered. It was scary but exhilarating, an adrenaline rush. My husband, behind me on the trail, watched the whole spectacle and thought I was a goner a few times. His experience on the E-bike was more controlled, or he is more skilled. Luckily we could loop back to the entrance rather than have to cycle up that particular slope. Otherwise, I’d be there yet.

After the balance beam, the trail opens to a clearing beside New London Bay.

In the distance the sand dunes on the other side of the bay are visible. As you follow the trail, you can see the Gulf of St. Lawrence on the far side of the dunes. 

A pond empties into the bay and we heard unfamiliar birds along its perimeter. 

I had the wrong camera for photos when they flew away.

The upward grade required I walk the bike a few times. 

The view of the water, both sea and pond, kept me going however. 

Besides, what choice did I have?

The last part of the trail with the dancing shadows 

and the smell of apples fallen from the trees were perfect precursors to autumn which was a few days away at that time. 

The ride was exhilarating but difficult. However, I am stronger with each ride and always enjoy the surroundings and the company. Cycling has been a great addition to life for my husband and me. 


Post tropical storm Teddy hit us yesterday afternoon with high winds and torrential rain. There was a lull in the storm overnight but it’s miserable again this morning. This evening we will find out about damage around the island. However, this storm is not as bad as Dorian by the look and sound of it.

Happy autumn or spring to everyone around the planet.

Sunday 20 September 2020

Touch of colour

It was a dry summer and many trees are showing the effects of the dry weather. Leaves are withering away on some trees making us wonder if there’ll be much fall colour this year. Regardless, the Rotary Friendship Trail was welcoming as we headed out, drawing us into the forested greens along the trail on a cool but pleasant day.

While some of the deciduous trees look spent, the conifers are vibrant and full. The shortening daylight hasn’t affected them yet, not that we can see.

Many deciduous greens are beautiful although they look muted. As we continued, shocks of autumn maple red dotted the canopy, 

lifting the eyes and us with them. Along the ground, young trees stood out among the ferns which were far from spent.

Sometimes an area looked verdant, with hardly a hint of autumn colour. Other times, around a turn, one arrived at sunlit beauty, teasing us about the weeks to come.

Some wildflowers, such as aster and goldenrod are hanging on to their blooms for another few days. They make a beautiful September garden. 

Behind some goldenrod, the colour of fireweed which has gone to seed makes an autumn scene. 

On the boardwalk by the harbour the next day, the wind was blowing as we looked out over the scene from the gazebo as we always do. 

However, the shoreline had the appearance of autumn which had developed over the previous days.

A few days later, we cycled on the Confederation Trail. We can comfortably do 16 kilometres or 10 miles now. We headed west, driving through a small community with a lovely park and farm country where cattle were our companions 

as potato fields waited for harvest. 

Autumn will continue to sprinkle her magic over the island.


Thursday 17 September 2020

Birds of the shoreline

Most of our walking this summer has been along the boardwalk in Summerside. As July slipped into August, the migratory birds were feeding along the shoreline. Low tide was the best time to see them.

A Spotted Sandpiper was perched on a rock looking south. I wonder if it was pondering the journey ahead.

This Solitary Sandpiper stood on an island in the salt marsh.

Contrary to its name, it had a buddy there too and they flew off together.

These tiny birds were visible along the shoreline for a few days. The Semipalmated Sandpipers blend in so well with the shoreline, they are difficult to see. 

Semipalmated Plovers were around longer than their Sandpiper friends. They are hard to spot among the rocks along the shoreline.

For several days, Black-bellied Plovers were among the birds along the shoreline in the harbour. They are unusual visitors to this location but we were happy to see them. Their markings are unique and quite attractive.

Another larger bird is the Ruddy Turnstone. A few were present on the beach at low tide when the Black-bellied Plovers were around. The Turnstone’s markings are unmistakable as well.

Yellowlegs were common visitors to the shoreline all summer. In August the Greater Yellowlegs were in small flocks. 

Lesser Yellowlegs were alone as they fed along the shoreline.

My favourite photos of the birds are those with two species together. This photo has a Yellowlegs and a Killdeer.

Some birds are not as easy for me to identify, such as this one.

Most of the birds have flown south now but occasionally we are surprised to see some migratory birds along the shoreline. One day recently, twelve Great Blue Herons fed along the shoreline of the Summerside Harbour at low tide. The birds don’t mind the busy street nearby or the occasional senior stopped to photograph them.