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Friday, 26 May 2017

The beach at New London Bay lighthouse

Walking on this beach is unusual because of all the activity mere meters from shore in New London Bay. The beach stands at the entrance to the bay and a channel is marked for boats. My husband and I took my brother, Frank and my sister-in-law, Michele there when they visited last week.

We walked the beach within sight of the lighthouse 



as the lobster


or mussel fishing boats 


powered alongside us in the bay, headed home after a morning of work. We waved to the crews who waved back or blew horns in response.

For Frank and I, the shoreline with the boats in the background, brought to mind our grandfather O'Brien and his fishing career. When he first began fishing in Newfoundland as a young lad with his father, Edward, they rowed to the fishing grounds, fished all day and rowed home. We wondered what he would say about these boats and the seafood fishery.

Some crews threw offal overboard as they motored into the bay, 


causing a feeding frenzy for the gulls. 


The flutter created great photo opportunities.


The beach showed the effects of winter but little garbage. The only garbage we saw was a deflated helium balloon from some occasion which is but a memory now. We were reminded of the hazards such balloons present to wildlife. This one was mired in the sand.


The old lighthouse stands watch as it has since the 1870s. Its tapered construction makes it look small from a distance. Behind the sand dunes, it is protected from the sea as it operates on solar power these days. The lonely hours tending the light are part of history now.


Much has changed with the fishery too, a modern industry today, which developed over the one hundred years since our grandfather rowed to the fishing grounds for cod. Today, this area of New London Bay is a great location for watching these modern boats as they head home from work.

What work did your grandfathers do?

Wednesday, 24 May 2017


No matter how long it's been since we've seen each other, the days my brother, Frank and I shared with our parents, make time slip away. The shared experiences make wonderful memories and conversation neither of us can have with anyone else in the world. 


My brother looks like Dad and I resemble Mom, so Sam and Mary live on in the appearances of their two children. Our gestures are reminiscent of our parents as well, as our spouses can attest. Still, in the above picture, my father's eyes stare back at me and my blond-haired, blue-eyed brother with the fair complexion, looks like the Irish O'Briens of my mother's family.

Remember a big part of any conversation. The days of our youth are the good old days which we can laugh about now. Stories abound as memories flood back, one triggering another. Between us, we can generate the details of events and circumstances, as we finish each other's sentences.

Where are they now? Childhood friends and classmates have children and grandchildren so there is catching-up to do. Stories of school events, teachers, sports, music lessons, Sunday dinners, and church are all shared memories.

Because of our age at this stage in our lives, conversation always comes around to who has died. We are at the stage when the older generation is almost gone and our generation is beginning to disappear. Questions center around the person's age and cause of death.

Favourite conversations revolve around our parents, those two people who shaped our lives and helped make us who we are today.


However, the words and phrases used by our parents and grandparents are part of our vocabulary today as well. Nan's pronouncements about life, Dad's assessment of world affairs, and Mom's spiritual wisdom and vernacular are all part of the family history, memories and traditions. The hard work of our grandfathers is not forgotten either. Those two men did a great job supporting their families in difficult times. Today, laughter accompanies quiet moments of remembrance.

Meanwhile, my daughter, Claire, gave birth to our grandson, Owen, this past week while my brother and sister-in-law, Michele, were visiting. 


Owen joins Sylvie and Caitlin as the fourth generation from our parents, another little one to teach about his mother's ancestors and Newfoundland heritage. My brother and I look forward to sharing the memories of our side of the family with him.

What's it like when you get together with your siblings?

Monday, 22 May 2017

Cavendish Grove

After several busy days at home we were ready for an excursion. We headed to Cavendish and by accident, turned into the Grove. It was a great discovery with over 12 kilometers of trails. We were pressed for time, and didn't explore too far that day but we will return.

Spring has taken hold on Prince Edward Island now and the Grove showed us its splendor. Sugar maple trees, which are not common on the island but are to this place, were in bloom. 


Some trees have their leaves, including the willows. They were resplendent in their new spring colour. 


Around the ponds, the old bulrushes stand their ground 


while nearby new plants are ready to take their place. 


The birds showed their spring behaviour as well. 


A pair of geese appear to be nesting on the banks of one of the ponds. 


A family who lives near the pond and visits there often told us a pair of geese come back there every year. Goslings mature in and around the pond. We hope to see them this year.

A pair of red-winged blackbirds, male and female, darted around the old bulrushes on another pond. We were fortunate to see a female of that species;


the males are the showy ones who make their presence known all of the time. 


Bees were out in full force on the dandelions all over the Grove.


It was good to see so many of them. The Grove was a-buzz with spring.

Friday, 19 May 2017

The beach near Brander's Pond

Brander's Pond is mere meters from the Gulf of St. Lawrence. A river flows from the pond onto the beach and into the Gulf. As my husband and I neared the trail to the sea, we paused and looked at each other.


"We won't be able to have lunch on the beach today. The sand is blowing around," he said.

Approaching the beach, we realized it was not sand but ground fog. It emanated from the damp sand, just inside the waterline.


Then the wind blew it further on-shore where it quickly dissipated. It created an ethereal look to the beach. 


We walked in the fog, watching it rise around us. The air was cold and the breeze made it necessary to wear gloves. However, it was fresh, clean and invigorating. Walking there, I forgot about my aching hip and knees, feeling like my younger self for a few minutes. The brief experience of that younger body felt good.


This area of coastline is shallow. A sand bar is visible under a thin layer of water. The waves, which were high that day, broke a distance from shore, creating white water. The ocean sounded powerful.


Faces were everywhere, carved by that power, etched into the soft sandstone. 


Every year, the faces change with the erosion of the cliffs.


This year, they were more obvious than ever before.


We were the only people on the beach and walked for almost two hours. We had lunch sat on a huge piece of driftwood as the fog rose around us. It was a dining experience, as if from a mystery novel. Every day on this gentle island brings new wonders.

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Giant's rampage

A giant lumbered through here, towered over the trees and pushed many of them aside as he went. That's what I imagine as my husband and I hike the Hilltop Trail in Breadalbane, Prince Edward Island. 


The trees are broken or cracked, some even toppled from the roots. 


There is an abundance of firewood though it is not easily accessible. Therefore nature is doing the work of decomposing the old wood. Slow and steady, season to season, decomposition of the old trees progresses.


The trail runs along by the Dunk river. There is a picnic area on the bank of the river just below the trail. Looking down, it looks like the giant has placed tables for us to use or will we be served for dinner?


In places where the sunlight can reach the forest floor, young trees are growing, renewing the old forest. Such trees will eventually replace all the dead wood which nature reclaims.


An old shed across the Dunk River looks like the giant put his foot down through it. Nothing escapes his destruction when he is trudging through this forest.


We hope never to meet him on the trail.

Monday, 15 May 2017

Foggy dew

The city was shrouded in fog, thick as pea soup. We waited for two days to go to the Citadel in Halifax and along the coastline in Nova Scotia but the fog was persistent. We are not accustomed to this kind of fog any more but wanted to go to the Citadel. Away we went.

The Citadel stands on a hill over looking the Halifax Harbour. It was a British military fortification established after Halifax was founded in 1749. It gives a great view of the harbour, but not that day. 

The photos tell the story.






You know it's foggy when...

While the Citadel was open, the museum was closed. Our visit was brief!


                            Can you find the Canadian flag in this photo?

Back in Prince Edward Island, life on this gentle island brings occasional mornings of fog. This spring, there have been a few days with the cloud-like mist at ground level. My husband and I ventured into that foggy dew recently to take some photos. 

The sand dunes


The marsh


The river


The boat


I much prefer the foggy dew to the pea soup.

Friday, 12 May 2017


Every place has its sound, that ambient noise which you become accustomed to over time. Here in Summerside, the wind is the one which has impressed me. The days without wind or a breeze are remarkable.

Our few days in Halifax recently did not give us time to settle on a sound which represented that city. However, the sounds were different from those we hear daily.

The fog horn was busy. While we are Newfoundland born, for most of our lives we lived in central Newfoundland where there was little fog. Now in Prince Edward Island, Summerside has fog occasionally but we have not heard a fog horn. Halifax was reminiscent of my youth in eastern Newfoundland where fog is a way of life and the fog horn signals a way through the atmospheric pea soup.

We stayed downtown in Halifax, not far from the train station. The sound of the train is also reminiscent of our younger years. As children, both my husband and I knew the sound of a train but it impacted our lives in more important ways as family members worked with the railway. That sound put food on the table. Newfoundland and Prince Edward Island lost their railways in 1989. The sound of the train in Halifax was a welcome comfort.

The air conditioning in the hotel room was noisy. Living in eastern Canada, there is usually a breeze and temperatures are rarely high for long. At home, our air conditioner is an open window, not a noisy machine, though we have one which we have used on one occasion.

We turned off the air conditioner in the hotel room and opened a window. The downtown traffic was much noisier than in our neighbourhood in Prince Edward Island where many nights, not a car goes up our street. The question became, traffic noise or noisy air conditioner? We opted for the traffic which decreased on the city streets over night. 

What is the ambient sound where you live?