“Be it ever so humble, there’s no place like home.” ~John Howard Payne
At first glance, my old home town looked the same. Closer inspection showed the old, juxtaposed with the new. The grocery store, long since closed, where I once knew the meat cutter on a first name basis, had morphed into a mega store in the town’s east side industrial park.
Colville Bay, with its long expanse of white sandy beach paralleling the causeway at the entrance to the town is a breathtaking welcome.
A boardwalk allows residents and visitors to stroll the beachfront and listen to the magnificent ocean breakers. If so inclined this beach is popular for sea glass collectors, windsurfers, swimmers and sunbathers. Stop awhile and visit the seasonal shops showcasing local artisan crafts or grab a quick snack at the lobster shack on the boardwalk.
It’s a town where everyone knows their neighbor. If you are looking for anonymity, you will quickly discover the locals have already pegged you as a visitor ‘from away’. Islanders, with their quirky accents, hinting of Irish, Scotch, or French ancestry are a trusting assembly of grass roots people. It’s an Island community with a distinctive personality, where front doors are sometimes left unlocked; the belief that locks are only for honest people.
They say you can’t go back. Well you can. And I did. A yearly visitor for almost two decades was not enough, however, to prepare me for the culture shock of moving from a metropolitan area, to a small urban community. Each summer, with our two children, my husband and I made the trek home to P.E.I. The children immediately became enchanted, and referred to P.E.I. as ‘the vacation island’, long before they had any awareness of the tourism commercials. Their summertime experiences provided many hours of enjoyment; experiences their urban friends could only read about. Whether it was discovering secluded beaches the tourists had yet to find; deep sea fishing on large fishing vessels; clam digging on the numerous sandy beaches; or catching minnows in a net off the piers, their summer pastimes were boundless.
Wildflowers growing in abundance in the ditches, to be gathered later to adorn our tables, never failed to delight our children. One such afternoon, while driving by one of the countless country fields laden with dandelions, my young son remarked on how beautiful they were. While some residents spent countless hours and money trying to eradicate the pesky dandelions from their lawns and gardens, our little boy saw pure beauty in this delightful explosion of color. I have since become more patient with these pesky flowers, and have given up trying to rid our lawn of them.
A visit to my old homestead was laden with nostalgia. Some things had changed, while others remained the same. An antique pump proudly stands at ready over a shallow water well. Lovingly maintained for the past 70 years, it was no surprise that it was still in working order.
Returning to live in Prince Edward Island after all those years was a dream come true. It has taken me a few years to grow accustomed to this unique culture again, but once I did, there was no going back.
Life on this Island, with its red soil and fresh ocean breezes is akin to drinking a tonic. Until I returned, I had no idea what was missing from my life!