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Sunday 20 August 2023

And the birds sang

The day started out as they usually do. We were headed to the boardwalk but as we passed a house two streets from ours, I noticed a young man bent over someone on a front lawn. An elderly woman was stood over them. We stopped and asked if they needed help and she shouted, “Yes.”

I ran from the car as my husband called 911. The young man was a carpenter working on a house across the street. We learned from him later he had heard the woman’s cries for help when she came out of the house and found her husband fallen by a tree on the lawn.

The young man was on the phone talking to 911 at this point, getting instructions as he did chest compressions. Within two minutes two police vehicles arrived. The officers didn’t have a defibrillator but one took over the chest compressions. Within two minutes, the paramedics arrived with a defibrillator and started to work on the man.

As we watched helplessly, I spoke with the woman, asked her name, told her mine and learned they had no family on the island. She shared information about her husband as we both cried and looked on. Sometimes words weren’t possible. Then an officer and a paramedic needed to speak with her and I told her I would check back with her as she thanked me and went with them.

We left not knowing what happened, though the defibrillator hadn’t revived the man.

My husband and I were quiet as we drove away. We continued on to the boardwalk and as we left the car and took the familiar trail, the Blue Jays were their usual chatty selves, the squirrels approached tentatively looking for peanuts, and the shorebirds du jour looked for food along the beach. A Great Blue Heron fished in the marsh. We passed many familiar faces we see and speak with regularly and noticed some tourists enjoying the area too. And the birds still sang.

Life went on…though a man was gone and his wife’s life changed forever. So were we. We were glad to have stopped and offered assistance. We couldn’t imagine doing otherwise. However, we will not soon forget the scene or the faces of either of the two people, one whose life ended and the other whose life was so dramatically changed that day. 

P.S. We have since spoken with the young man who arrived on the scene so quickly. He is to be admired for helping as he did. Not everyone would. 

I have been in touch with the woman whose husband died that day and she is doing as well as can be expected. She and her husband had just returned from grocery shopping that morning. 

You never know…

Sunday 13 August 2023

Enjoying nature

We have stayed close to home for the last month partly because of the humidity and heat. This last week, while it hasn’t been humid, we’ve had high winds and rain just about every day. We walk the boardwalk every day however, between the raindrops, usually in the morning.

Recently, children in the Wild Child Program spent days along the boardwalk, under the trees in one area and along the shoreline, on the grass or on the sand dunes at low tide. 

It looks like a great experience for the kids, exploring the environment and playing as kids do. 

My early experiences on the beaches and in the woods of Newfoundland make me smile when I see children today enjoying nature as they did in this camp. However, I continue to enjoy time in nature to this day as I hope those children will continue throughout their lives.

Meanwhile, the shorebirds continue their visits to our shoreline as they journey south for another year. We spend time every day watching them, birds of various sizes as they feed along the shoreline. 

Recently, a flock of twenty plus Ruddy Turnstones fed among the seaweed piled along the beach. 

These pretty birds breed on the Arctic tundra and stop here to fatten up as they journey south. They poke around the seaweed, exposing food, and appear to enjoy the waves breaking on the shoreline around them.

The herons have been absent for some weeks but this past week they were back again. One hid among the bulrushes in the salt marsh one morning and startled us when it took flight. In the photo below, one fed along the distant sandbar at low tide and was lucky enough to catch a flounder for its breakfast.

A young Great Black-backed Gull was crabbing along the shoreline at low tide with some success as well. Bonaparte Gulls are wading behind it.

I have tried all season to take a good photo of the Common Grackles which spend several months every year along the boardwalk. This Grackle, after it procured a peanut, hopped along the bridge before it took flight. 

The chipmunks are gathering peanuts from visitors too. This perfect specimen was watching in case we offered one. 

It was hard to see but we heard this Grizzly Locust as it landed nearby. This insect makes a sound like a burning sparkler as it flies. Landed on this hard surface, it almost disappears.  

Many of the wildflowers are past their prime now but the scenes along the shoreline as pretty though more autumn-like now. 

Finally today, the neighbourhood crows have introduced us to the new additions to their murder. Below, one is waiting around for a chance to play a bit of basketball with the neighbourhood kids.


Sunday 6 August 2023

Island idyll

Love of the eastern Canadian islands, Newfoundland and Prince Edward Island, where I have lived my life fills my spirit. The elements, the weather and the tides, feature strongly in that life. So too do the elements of land and sea, waves, beaches and cliffs. I am drawn to the sea, from a land rich in minerals and forests as in Newfoundland, and fields of rich red soil as in Prince Edward Island.

There is a freedom on these islands which we sometimes take for granted. I wouldn’t hesitate to take a walk alone at any time, or speak to a stranger. There is a sense that “strangers” are people like ourselves, friends we haven’t met yet.

It is peaceful here too, people commonly talk about the weather as the biggest news of the day.  While social issues including drugs are an issue as they are in many places today, many of us go about our lives unaffected by them. We enjoy nature, physical activity and each other. 

Many people on these islands don’t have family nearby, as young people, for generations, had to leave their island homes to acquire employment. Those of us fortunate enough to have family here, especially grandchildren, are fortunate beyond measure.

As we walk the trails and beaches these days, I leave modern devices, except the camera, behind. I appreciate what is here and keep a visual record of it. The sounds of a river or stream, the birds, the waves breaking on the shore all give me great joy. The vistas before me revive me in spite of the news of a modern world, out there, beyond these islands. 

When the modern world does intrude, as it did with the pandemic,  we hunkered down and looked after ourselves and each other as best we could. As a result, we fared well compared to other areas. 

Our population is increasing now, as immigration has opened our borders to people from around the world. In addition, people are moving to the island from across the country as workers are needed in every industry. We welcome everyone who comes to live here, like our ancestors from around the world came centuries ago. And like us, moving from one province to another, we hope everyone enjoys life on this gentle island as much as we do.

Island life is for me!

Give me an island in the blue sea.

The wind and the waves, let them carry me,

Where the rhythm of life mirrors the tide.

There I will settle, just let me bide…

Give me an island in the blue sea 

Where beaches and cliffs punctuate scenery.

With sand by the plenty and driftwood galore

I’ll put down my roots and enjoy what’s in store.

Give me an island in the blue sea

Where the voices of gulls soaring high speak to me.

Where eagles keep watch over water and sky 

And fly above all as they soar going by.

Give me an island in the blue sea 

With Marram on dunes and the wind blowing free.

The trails and the beaches, they speak to me

And life is as simple as living can be.