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Wednesday 27 April 2022


He sits on the bench along the boardwalk with a bag of peanuts and feeds the animals. They know him well since the snow disappeared and the air is warmer. He enjoys this time, leisurely giving the nutty treasures to Blue Jays and Red Squirrels as people go by, most greeting him as they admire the antics of the animals. 

He doesn’t have much to say because he’s not there for the people. Besides, his hearing prevents him from understanding much of what others say but the animals don’t mind.

While I watched one day, two squirrels scampered away with the nuts, returning quickly to the man, one coming from behind, quickly jumped to the bench and up to his knee. It took the peanut from his hand. He threw a peanut for the other, as he does with the Blue Jays. The man smiled and talked to them as he sat there, relaxed as he enjoyed the setting and the experience.

Around the man, a number of other birds hang out too. A Robin watches from a nearby tree 

as does a Mourning Dove, waiting for any leftovers when the more aggressive animals are done. 

One can hear the efforts of a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker nearby and see it in the tree behind the man and the other animals.

The area is a playground with snacks for the beasts.

For a few minutes in the day, a person sits and communes with nature. During that time, the cares of a troubled world and those in his own life disappear as he feeds the animals, oblivious to all else.

Everyone could benefit from a few of those minutes.

Sunday 24 April 2022

Picnic at Bubbling Springs

The Covehead Lighthouse stood nestled in the sand dunes as we drove through the national park on Prince Edward Island.

My husband and I were headed for our first picnic of the season on a beautiful spring day. With the temperature above zero and the absence of wind, it was a perfect day for a hike and a hot lunch cooked on the camp stove.

Late last autumn, we explored the Bubbling Springs Trail in the park for the first time and we felt drawn back there to start the season this year. This area is one of our favourites on the island. When we arrived, there was snow in the parking lot, so we expected snow on the trail as well. 

Exiting the car, we heard an unfamiliar bird call and a woodpecker busy in a tree. The call and tapping continued along the length of the trail. I was lucky to take a photo of the bird though a poor one. A flock of Northern Flickers, the yellow shafted variety of the east coast appear to make this area home, at least this time of year.

On the pond which parallels a section of the trail, Canada Geese and Ring-necked Ducks enjoyed the morning sun. They were too far away for good photos.

The spring continues to bubble, doing its thing regardless of the weather or anything else. I wonder if the water freezes every winter.

The trail was indeed snow and ice covered in any shaded areas and water accumulated in the hollows. 

Our feet were wet by the time we arrived back to the car. We didn’t mind however and dried off before we started lunch.

On the old Coleman stove we fried bacon and warmed beans and meat cakes. Sipping a cup of hot tea, we had a quiet lunch, the first of the season, listening to the Flickers in the distance and the Song Sparrows in the trees nearby. 

The pussy willows and the sumac seeds against the blue sky completed the scene. 

We stopped at Covehead on the way home to see the birds in the salt marsh across from the light. The radiation fog rising from the marsh while geese and ducks went about their daily lives, created a peaceful scene which we watched for some time. A few deep breaths later and we were ready to re-enter the world.

Monday 18 April 2022

At the park

We ventured to the national park on Prince Edward Island twice in the last few weeks, both times urged on by the above zero temperatures and lack of wind. These were exploratory visits, to see if our favourite areas of the park were open and if a walk and a picnic were feasible to begin our outings for another year.

Two weeks ago, we visited the western section of the Park at Cavendish. Cavendish Grove wasn’t open but we parked along the road and I took a photo through the gate of our favourite area. It is there we spend a few hours every spring entertained by the spring peepers and several pairs of geese who return there to breed. All was quiet in the Grove that day.

At the Lookout over Cavendish Beach, snow was still visible along the shoreline. The days of snow on the beach are numbered.

Several weeks ago, the Song Sparrows returned to our garden, singing with the advancing daylight outside the bedroom window as they will do for the next four months. Everywhere we go, these melodious little birds are singing their hearts out, as they were that day by the Lookout. They are fast becoming my favourite birds.

We stopped at MacKenzies Brook again where I took some photos of the ever expanding sea arch. When I took this photo, 

I was oblivious to the Bald Eagle stood in the upper right of the photo. On the way back to the car, the eagle flew overhead but this was the best photo I could capture.

Finally we visited Orby Head and the Great Cormorants were back, some standing vigil at the Head already this year.

                            Can you see the five Cormorants in this photo?

We decided that if the weather was at all co-operative, we’d have a picnic at the park in the next week. Yay!

Monday 11 April 2022

Notes from the island

Spring is beginning to take hold on Prince Edward Island but its progress feels slow when I compare it to other areas of the Northern Hemisphere and the majority of Canada. However here spring evolves on island time so we may as well relax and enjoy it. Comparison is too discouraging.

The Covid numbers on Prince Edward Island are high with thirty hospitalizations and there have been nineteen deaths thus far. The vaccination rate is 90+ percent and the vaccine is helping those infected to have mild cases. We will have the fourth doses of vaccine when we are eligible again due to our ages and health issues. We are two months past the third shot. Last week the mask mandate was extended for several weeks while other restrictions were lifted. I will continue to wear a mask into the foreseeable future when shopping regardless of the provincial guidelines. The issue now is staffing in schools and health care facilities because people are away from work with Covid even though most have mild cases. We can’t win with this virus.

I am thoroughly enjoying reading again. I am back to my favourite mystery writers thanks to the local library, reading the books written since I was last able to enjoy them. Cataract surgery has brought some old friends back into my life. In addition to mysteries I have especially enjoyed novels by Rachel Cusk, a writer whose descriptions and insights are like photographs of life, beautifully composed. She is well worth a read.

Currently the island has the highest rate of inflation in Canada. Prices have skyrocketed as they have everywhere and we decided to be smarter about what we buy. Our diet consists mainly of vegetables anyway and we have enough protein in the deep freeze to last for some time. We limit ourselves to the vegetables and fruit, either frozen or fresh which are on sale for the week and we shop selectively at the four grocery stores. Some weeks we don’t have certain items because they are so expensive, eg. avocados. We rarely have fresh tomatoes now but use the tomatoes I canned over the last few years in recipes. It’s the only way we can see to keep the grocery bill reasonable.

This past week, my husband and I changed over our snow tires for summer tires. Because we have rims on both sets of tires, we can change from winter to summer tires and the reverse by ourselves. I am the assistant during this operation and within an hour, the job is done. 

My husband is working on our bikes in preparation for biking season again. My bike is in need of a major tune-up after the accident I had last October. I am nervous to ride again but plan to take it easy and try it when the trails are clear of snow. We need warmer days to melt the snow in shaded areas along the trails.

The barbecue and clothesline have been positioned for another season. So far it is too cold to use either but we live in hope. Soon…

                                                                       For Ukraine

Sunday 3 April 2022

The melt

When we left the car, we heard the plaintive call of a lone gull. As we looked out from the gazebo, 

we saw the Ring-billed Gull just off-shore in open water. 

Nearby Common Mergansers appeared to revel in the calm day as well. 

It was a blue overcast day when at first glance, one could mistake the blue sky for a clear day. 

The birds were busy around the boardwalk. Several Song Sparrows gathered seed at the base of the bridge. 

A female Hairy Woodpecker looked for seeds left by the onlookers 

or watched from a nearby branch if people came too close.

Three days later, with wind on the water and a clear blue sky, the bay had opened more. 

There was enough open water for the return of the Black Scoters we could hear whistling in the distance.  

Soon the ice will be gone for another year. We are as joyful as the Song Sparrows at the prospect.

Update:  What a difference a day makes.