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Friday, 2 December 2016

The view from here


During our recent excursion to Seven Mile Bay, my husband and I observed the bridge from one of the roads to the shore. 

 


As we approached the shore, we saw a paddle boarder out on the water with the bridge as a backdrop. 

 

It was only 9 degrees Celcius that day and one could imagine how cold the water was if should she topple. However, the young woman had no trouble staying upright. My elder self imagined her as a yoga partitioner with a keen sense of balance though her youth probably gave her the physical stability. 

As she paddled, 

 

traffic entered and exited the bridge, including many trucks. She appeared oblivious, peaceful. She had her own place of serenity in the world.

 

Watching her, we were at peace too, a peace unknown in much of the world. It is one of the reasons we love this place.

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Back to nature

A forest is one place where reduce, reuse and recycle are all done in an exemplary manner. Plants, or parts of plants, having lived their span of days or years, decompose into the earth or become a substrate for other organisms to speed up decomposition. All goes back to nature.

Leaves of the deciduous trees never go to waste in a forest. Neither do needles of mature coniferous trees like pine, all of which add to the humus or organic material in the forest floor.

 

Fallen trees or parts of them become homes for moss, which, over time, breaks down the tree, returning it to the earth.

 

Bark mushrooms take their place on trunks of dead or dying trees, breaking them down further as well. 

 

The curious jelly-like slime mold also does its part on old branches and tree trunks. One such mold is called Witch's butter and according to Eastern European legend, if it appeared on one's door or gate, it meant one was targeted by a witch's spell.

 

Animals take advantage of the environment too, as insects invade trees and woodpeckers dig holes in search of them.

 

Then there is Usnea, or Old Man's Beard, which hangs from branches and trunks of old trees. It is a non-plant, consisting of algae and fungi in a mutually beneficial relationship. Its presence in a forest indicates the air is clean since Usnea absorbs pollutants and will die in extreme cases of pollution. Our ancestors used it for its antibiotic and anti-fungal properties and, even today, it is used in emergencies in the forest. 

 

In my youth, I studied biology in university. Over my teaching career, I left teaching science and biology for administration and counselling. This past year, I have come to realize how much I enjoyed biology and missed it. I, too, am back to nature.


Monday, 28 November 2016

Juniper

Tamarack or larch trees are known as juniper trees on Prince Edward Island. Juniper is present throughout the island in mixed forests like the one we visited recently in Breadalbane. Juniper is a deciduous cone bearing tree or conifer, losing its needles in the autumn after they turn a golden colour. 

 

As we walked under some juniper trees, the needles fell on and around us. The ground in those areas was covered in yellow needles.

 

Juniper is the hardest and strongest of the softwoods. It is also resistant to decay and as such is a popular wood for poles, posts and railway ties. There was a time when shipbuilding was big business on the island and juniper was a preferred wood for use in the industry.

 

Another interesting feature of the juniper tree is its intolerance to shade. The trees can grow up to sixty feet in height and in a mixed forest, they must be in the over story or they die. In keeping with their intolerance to shade, junipers prune themselves.

 

One half to two-thirds of the trunks of the tall trees will have empty branches with the needles only on the top portions. 

It is a unique tree and a versatile wood which gives a mixed forest a glorious crown this time of year.

Sunday, 27 November 2016

Friday, 25 November 2016

Beauty of the beach

Our recent visit to Seven Mile Bay, Prince Edward Island, was filled with views of the beach, geese, seaweed and The Confederation Bridge. It was a gray day and the cloud cover gave the feeling of the edge of twilight, my favourite time of day. Occasionally the sun brightened a section of sky.

Initially, there was a breeze off the water but it ceased as we walked. A section of the beach is lined with cottages, 

 

and some enterprising owners have fortified their shoreline with rocks to help prevent erosion. In another spot, someone had discarded some mustard plants over the bank earlier in the year and they flourished 



and looked cheerful along the shoreline. A night shade plant had gone to seed as well; its brilliant red berries caught the eye.

 

Several streams interrupted the shoreline and babbled their way down the beach. 

 

The sound blended with the ocean's melody to create a peaceful symphony. 

 

Sitting by a stream was music for the soul.

 

Nearby some ducks broke the reverie as they quacked and swam around their pond, mere feet from the high tide mark. They fit into the soundtrack, providing another note.

 

It was a place of natural wonder.

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

The dining room

The room is massive, 

 

the floor carpeted 

 

and the walls are wood. 

 

Overhead, the ceiling is high and blue at first, then cloud white. The decor is natural materials and the air conditioning is on, but it is comfortable.

Homemade bread is on the menu, made into sub rolls and filled with slices of fresh chicken breast cooked this morning. Switchel, fresh brewed black, unsweetened tea, is served รก la thermos. It is self service and we sit comfortably in our camp chairs at the portable table brought from home.

As we feast, spruce trees, at least fifty feet tall, sway in the breeze on slender trunks. Deciduous trees, having shed their clothing, stand majestically in their gray-black beauty. An unseen hand touched a dimmer switch making the trees as silhouettes against the sky, wallpaper for the room.

 

We eat slowly, consuming the natural wonder of the place, the sound of the breeze and the occasional creaking tree. Conversation is easy after forty plus years, but silence in this place feels natural too. Soon the cold and snow will keep us indoors more than we'd like, but today, this room is perfect.

Monday, 21 November 2016

Clarity

The patio furniture is put away now; anticipation of the winter to come necessitates preparation. However, this day there is no wind and the temperature is pleasant.

 

We sit in our camp chairs, taking advantage of every minute we can in the fresh air. It is quiet during the day in the neighbourhood. All the young neighbours are at work, caught in the rush of life when children are young and full of needs and wants; mortgages demand attention. 

This day is different for me, a year older and reflective, I sit with a glass of wine waiting for dinner to cook. In the not too distant past, my husband and I were like those families, raising our daughter, caught in the rush of work and family life, balancing both, sometimes successfully. Like everyone else, we did our best.

It is not only the day that is different however; it is the time of life. We are not young, though not elder seniors either. Our friends, about fifteen years older, are selling their home and moving into an apartment now in another province, downsizing their lives of material and activity as they look to the future. Their practical approach and the excitement with which they are looking forward to this next stage of their lives are encouraging to witness. They are ready and embracing each other and the future, such great examples of how to approach the great uncertainty of life.

 

Best wishes, Hiltrud and Carlo, on your next exciting adventure.