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Sunday 31 December 2023

Happy New Year

As the sun sets on 2023, we live in hope for a better 2024.


Monday 18 December 2023

Memories of Isabel

It has been a difficult ten days on Prince Edward Island. An accident on the highway took four lives and destroyed several families. However, in such a small community as PEI, the event itself and the circumstances touch the lives of many.

Early one evening, four young people, on their way to a youth group meeting, were struck head-on by a truck which veered into their lane. Three of the young people died at the scene, a fourth is in hospital having lost his two brothers and an eighteen year old friend in the accident. Several days later, a passenger in the truck died. The driver, who is twenty, will be charged with impaired driving causing death.

For me, this has stirred up the memories of the death of my friend Isabel in tenth grade. She was killed by a drunk driver as her family was going to church one Saturday evening. Her classmates sat vigil at the funeral home with her closed casket because her family was in hospital. 

However, I didn’t leave Isabel at the graveside that day. She has been with me through my life, the brilliant fifteen year old who didn’t have a chance to live. She didn’t get married, have children and grandchildren, have a career, or travel. Every life experience was taken away when someone chose to get behind the wheel one Saturday afternoon, taking a young girl’s chance of experiencing the joys and sorrows which make a life. It is fifty plus years since that day and the tears as I write this are as close to the surface as they were back then. Isabel became a statistic but not to me.

As a teacher, I sponsored a group of Students Against Drinking and Driving, S.A.D.D, in a high school where I worked. It was important to me to address the issue with students, creating an awareness of the danger of getting behind the wheel where you make your vehicle a weapon because of alcohol. Young people needed to know what to say and do when others might do the same. Parents needed to provide money for a cab or a ride home. Plans need to be made before the drinking starts. Young people often take such learning into their adult lives.

Alcohol can destroy lives in many ways. An alcoholic in a family can affect generations in that family and society at large in often unseen ways. Weaponizing alcohol by drinking and driving has an immediate effect on others maimed or killed by a choice and those who know and love them.

In fifty years time, others will be thinking about the lives lost recently. Words aren’t enough!

Sunday 10 December 2023

Time with the animals

Temperatures have been low enough the past few days to freeze the shallow water in Bedeque Bay at Summerside. 

The animals which live along the boardwalk have been preparing for these winter conditions and walkers have been entertained by their efforts, including those of the Red Squirrels.

These small, industrious rodents are present most days when we walk the trail. If they are absent, you can bet there is a predator in the area.

Last year, my husband and I watched a squirrel as it harvested cones from a spruce tree, chopping off the cones which fell to the boardwalk where the squirrel hastened to cart them away to its midden*. This year, we watched one of the squirrels harvest winterberry holly berries.

A gazebo overlooks the salt marsh in the area of the trail we frequent. We always begin our walks at this gazebo, to see what is happening in the marsh that day. One day in October, when we arrived at the gazebo, we heard a squirrel in the winterberry holly tree by the side of the gazebo. 

The tree had lost most of its leaves at that point, and the red berries were quite obvious. Watching the tree, we saw a squirrel harvesting the berries, unconcerned about the humans who could almost reach out and touch it.

The little rodent worked furiously to cut off twigs of berries as you can see in this short video here.

By the time we were leaving the gazebo, the squirrel was headed to its midden with a twig of berries in its mouth.

Overhead, the birds always entertain as well, including a flock of Canada Geese which yesterday was headed inland ahead of the forecasted high winds and rain. The birds didn’t have it sorted as to which one should lead the V on the way. 

Eventually a small flock broke away from the undecideds and managed a great V.

On the home front, Daisy, the Golden Retriever, visits every week. This week she met BB, the crow with the broken beak which visits us every day. BB now looks in through the glass in the patio door, usually when we are eating at the kitchen table. Daisy and BB watched each other for several minutes. 

Surprisingly Daisy didn’t bark at the crow. I think now they are friends.

*midden: an underground tunnel where a Red Squirrel stores its food. It is separate from its nest or drey which is in a tree.

Sunday 3 December 2023


Our new Golden Retriever grand-dog, Daisy was six weeks old when she joined our daughter’s family about two months ago. We have spent time with her, including numerous walks, sometimes with her alone when she is in our care, or with our daughter and/or the children. Regardless of the circumstances, Daisy always is entertaining. 

When we walk the Confederation Trail, Daisy walks off-lead and really enjoys running around.

When I am in the rear, taking photos, Daisy runs back and forth between us, just checking in. 

Along the boardwalk, which is much more crowded, Daisy is on lead which she does well with too. 

Wherever she is, she eats leaves, chews sticks, and requires constant vigilance.

After a walk, any mat becomes a bed for a snooze, even if space is at a premium.

Daisy’s least favourite part of any day is when the children leave for school. She watches as they wait for the bus and when it leaves, she whines. The dog always welcomes them enthusiastically when they return.

This past weekend, Daisy and our grandchildren visited on Saturday. I took photos while their grandfather made cookies with the children. Daisy managed to poke her head into the scene too. She would not be denied. 

I can understand why many seniors look for an older dog when they want a canine companion. The time, energy and patience required to train a pup is a huge investment. A friend’s dog recently died

and she is looking for an older rescue dog, like the previous one

My husband and I are happy to have Daisy in our lives. She brings unconditional love, companionship, fur and ultimately returns home. She is as sweet as she is beautiful. However, we’re not sure she knows she’s a dog.

Sunday 26 November 2023

A carefree day

We spent a day with our grandchildren this past week and saw them several other days as well when we drove them from school or activities. It was a busy week but a great one which we thoroughly enjoyed.

My husband and I, as former teachers, always plan for days with the kids though we are never stuck for things to do when they visit. Over time, we have come to realize what the children really want is our time and attention, for us to engage with them. The medium doesn’t really matter. A cuddle on the couch, a game of hide and seek or art/crafts work equally well as long as we are involved too. 

That day, when they arrived at our house, we generated a list of toiletries people need and shopped for the list of items which we donated locally.

A walk along the boardwalk with peanuts always attracts the animals which the kids thoroughly enjoy. The chickadees love to eat from one’s hand when shelled peanuts are offered. 

Squirrels love peanuts in shells and will take those with uncracked shells back to their dreys.

That day, we had Daisy with us too, their three month old Golden Retriever which is the latest addition to the family. 

Daisy loves to interact with other dogs which causes others to stop and interact with us too. 

Walking a dog is a wonderful way to meet people. The children were pleased to speak with people.

At home with their mother and step father, the kids have a daily limit of time on devices. While they complained at first, they have days now when they don’t use that time at all.

After lunch, we had quiet time for a half hour and while the seniors rested, the children could use I-Pads. The girls asked every five minutes if the time was up. They were anxious to do the craft project we were doing for the Christmas table. We will celebrate Christmas early this year since they will be away for Christmas. Meanwhile less time on devices is always a good thing!

Later, before they left, we all watched part of the Grinch movie which we quite enjoyed. We didn’t get any baking done, although their grandfather and I had prepared to do several recipes with them. Consequently the list of projects for next Saturday with the children is growing.

It was a busy day but a great one for making memories. Besides, the troubles of the world are forgotten when one spends time with children. I wish people everywhere could enjoy such a carefree day. The world needs more of those.

Sunday 19 November 2023

Around here

With the miserable weather around here the last several weeks, my husband and I have kept our walking close to home. Most of the time we encounter rain without the benefit of an umbrella because the wind is too high. As long as we’re warm, we manage.

Dramatic skies are often present as weather fronts move into the area. With some of the autumn berries along the shoreline, a view of the lighthouse almost looks festive.

By this time in the autumn, the trees are bare, even in sheltered areas. 

Some mornings, snow lingers along the trail as overnight temperatures are too low for rain.

For the next few weeks, juniper, also known as tamarack or larch trees will lose their yellow needles which are quite lovely now.

The ducks which call Prince Edward Island home for a few months every winter have taken to the waterways around the island. Surf Scoters are on the bay in Summerside and are a nice addition to the avian population.

Meanwhile, the usual residents are busy too, like this Bald Eagle which we’ve seen numerous days hunting from sand bars at low tide. We always enjoy these birds.

Recently after our walk, we drove to the head of the bay to see the geese which frequent that area. American Wigeons and Common Goldeneyes floated around, many with their heads nestled under their wings while the Canada Geese were quite unconcerned. 

We have seen several rainbows this autumn, but I haven’t always had the camera to take a photo. This is the best photo I’ve been able to manage of the elusive arcs.

Finally today, meet BB and his pal. 

They are among our crow friends who visit us every day. BB has a broken beak, hence the initials. That bird has adapted to the broken beak and learned how to pick up food in spite of the partly missing appendage. BB requires longer to feed and will drive the other crows away when he is eating and they’ve already finished their portion. We hope BB will be able to survive the winter! 


Sunday 12 November 2023

Two blue sky days

We have had two weeks of rain, temperatures in the low single digits and high winds. Sometimes the rain becomes sloppy, wet snow. We haven’t been able to have any picnics and we’ve confined our walks closer to home. Most days, we walk between the raindrops. 

The skies are occasionally dramatic with heavy cloud cover and this recent deep blue with the clouds looked foreboding though beautiful. It was the bluest cloudy sky we’ve ever seen.

On the last beautiful blue sky day prior to the change in the weather, we drove to a beach which is new to us at Tracadie, on the central northeast coast of the island. Tracadie Harbour sits among sand dunes, an area constructed by the sea itself, without the fortification of sandstone cliffs.

In the harbour, the sea is surrounded by flats of sand exposed at low tide and dunes which are farther inland as time and the sea add more sand. The red sandstone cliffs elsewhere on the island are noticeably absent.

Cormorants stood along the shoreline in the harbour, enjoying the October sun, probably anticipating the long flight south.

We walked towards the beach which borders the Gulf of St. Lawrence and a Bald Eagle caught my eye in the distance. It sat surveying the area from atop a dune along the Gulf coast.

Along that coastline, the pristine beach stretches out to the west and appears to go on forever. 

This coastline is not developed although an occasional house/cottage dots the shoreline. To the east, the entrance to the harbour is marked with two buoys. 

The remnants of an old wharf stretch diagonally across part of the beach, some of it submerged at high tide. 

Besides the eagle, 

three other people were on the beach that day but a restaurant near the parking lot was attracting people for lunch. We enjoyed our picnic lunch nearby. 

Tracadie is a place of rare beauty which is peaceful and natural in a modern world. We will be back.