Chapter 11: PEI Roadside Stands ~ Keeping it Simple

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“I think we may safely trust a good deal more than we do.” Henry David Thoreau         Photo: ELR

Offered for sale wild berries in wooden quarts,
Or crook-necked golden squash with silver warts,
Here far from the city we make our roadside stand
And ask for some city money to feel in hand
~The Roadside Stand~ by Robert Frost

In the poem A Roadside Stand, Frost presents the lives of poor deprived people with pitiless clarity and with the deepest sympathy and humanity.

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Roadside stands are a familiar sight in PEI.    Photo: ELR

It is now fall in Prince Edward Island. The air is cooler and fresher and the morning grass more often than not is covered with a heavy dew and the beginnings of frost. The pumpkins are dotted in many a field and the grocery stores, farmers markets and roadside u-picks are full of the plump orange vegetables along with their smaller cousins the gourds. It is a time to take a deep breath and brace myself for the winter ahead. The leaves are turning yellow, orange and crimson. If you are lucky enough to fly over our Island at this time of year, the sight is breathtaking! Fields of freshly harvested potatoes leave a brownish okra square where once potato blossoms flourished. Grain has been cut and corn has reached maturity and what is left scattered in the fields provide valuable sustenance for the flocks of Canada Geese winging their way south. Our seasons are short and the more reason to enjoy them to the fullest.

new potatoesPrince Edward Islanders are open, friendly, and trusting people. The ‘salt of the earth’ one might say. I love stopping at many a small unmanned kiosk at the side of the road in many communities. Residents and occasional travelers can purchase produce such as potatoes (which is the most popular with our Island being famous for these tubers), strawberries, garden vegetables, and in the fall, pumpkins, gourds and sunflowers. Purchases are based solely on the ‘honor system’; sometimes in the form of a plastic or metal tub attached to a pole, where you can deposit the exact change. There are many roadside stands of this sort and they are open seven days a week. Local residents, who are intent on supporting the 100 mile challenge or the ‘support local’ initiative find these mini marts serve the purpose nicely. Unsophisticated maybe, but they work!

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uPick Pumpkin patch on a main road in Perth PEI.                                                          Photo: ELR

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“on your honor” – pay here….   Photo: ELR

The fall is an especially pretty time of year to cruise all the back roads (and main roads) to see what can be found. Pumpkin patches offer a wide variety of pumpkins, gourds and at some farm markets, a veritable playground while the elders shop for that special pumpkin arrangement for display or cooking.

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Balderston’s farm market Stratford PEI Photo: ELR

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Balderston’s farm market.

Farmers’ markets in the larger cities, towns, and villages host local merchants and Artisans who have been peddling their food and wares for years. It can be a place to catch up on the local gossip, or have lunch of sauerkraut and sausage on a homemade bun, while you chat. There is no reason or rhyme to what you will find to buy, or sample, making it all the more intriguing to cruise the rural roads on a Saturday morning in P.E.I. Arrive early, though, because by mid-day, the farmer’s market in Charlottetown closes up shop!

The fruit stand has been a neighborhood hub for many generations. As a young girl I setIMG_1124 up a small stand at the end of our lane and sold our fresh strawberries from my Mother’s patch for .25c a box. Handpicked by me and my sibling usually in the cooler early morning hours, it was a hot and long day’s work often seeing us pack it in before the heat of the afternoon sun which could transform the berries to mush in a manner of hours.
It’s not as common anymore to sell strawberries at a roadside stand. strawberry-1352

The more common method now is the uPick fields that are around the countryside.
A simple stand located adjacent to an established road/transportation route is the most familiar model. Fruit and produce stands in PEI are seasonal, harvest-based operations.

Whatever your pleasure in fruits or vegetables, you will not leave disappointed. So gather your significant other and/or young’uns and head out for a road trip.  Bring lots of change so you can pick what you like. Be thankful we live in such a beautiful province with farmers who work around the clock in all kinds of weather to bring such harvest to our tables!

Chapter 10: Summer in PEI: Beach Combing and Clamming

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Footprints in the sand.                                                                                                    Photo: EL Roach

“Our memories of the ocean will linger on, long after our footprints in the sand are gone.” ~Anonymous

Washed up and strewn across the shores and riverbanks on P.E.I., flotsam and jetsam (debris and driftwood) lay ‘beached’ from high winds and tides. Unfortunately these same weather patterns tear away the unprotected riverbanks, and the trees that have been growing for decades fall prey to erosion from the same tides. Breaking away and drifting for months or years, beach combers will soon delight in finding these driftwood treasures.

Floatsam on ‘Poverty Beach’ PEI.                       Photo: EL Roach

One thing Prince Edward Island has in abundance is beaches. Someone once said you can never get lost on PEI; to keep driving until you reach water.

Our Island is rich in this way. We may be the smallest province in Canada but we possess the largest jewel in the form of an Island.

beach combing 3I have my own beach. Well it is not exactly a white sandy beach – but a dark coarse sandy one rich with shells, broken glass and driftwood. I collect it all – even the broken glass that has not tumbled in the sea long enough to have the smooth edges like the sea glass gathered and coveted by beach goers.

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Jagged broken shards of glass lovingly displayed in a large vintage pickle jar.                         Photo: EL Roach

I can walk for an hour on my beach (at low tide) and not run out of beach. I do not take this gift for granted. I share this time and this beach with our heron that visits us nightly, the crows in the early morning who choose our beach to have their morning chat or arguments; the snipes who pick their way through the water’s edge looking for a snack; and the majestic eagles who patrol the shoreline daily feasting on whatever the river decides to provide them on any given day.

Driftwood on the Brudenell River’s shore.                                                                  Photo: A. Roach

A piece of driftwood this size has been here, on the Brudenell River for some time, and will be a challenge for a beach comber attempting to drag this one home! Sometimes you can discover the most beautiful pieces of driftwood, like this treasure which resembles Burlwood.

This piece of Burlwood drifted in to my beach and is now on display.                   Photo:  EL Roach

Or if you are so inclined you could rescue an old lobster trap washed up on the beach.

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Abandoned lobster trap on Sheep Pond Beach. Photo: Angie Packer Dunn

The sand flats revealed on low tide are rich with shellfish for the patient, willing to dig for them. Razor fish, soft-shelled clams, and bar clams are there for the taking (as long as your daily limit does not exceed 100). You need a license to fish all bi valves but recreational fishing is allowed (with the exception of scallops and oysters). Daily limits can be viewed on the Department of Fisheries and Oceans website. Shellfish areas are monitored closely and signs will be posted if any areas are closed to the public for shell fishing.

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Digging with bare hands. Photo: EL Roach

This clam digger is brave enough to use his bare hands, although there are other ways to dig without sacrificing cuts and scrapes.

Beach combers digging for clams here on Argyle Shore is on a ‘first come, first served’ basis. With an unhurried pace and the circling of seagulls, you can still net enough for an afternoon meal of delicious bivalves. Receding tides expose hard packed sand flats perfect for digging clams, or a long, casual stroll at sunset.

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Clammers come to shore to dig clams.                                                                      Photo:  EL Roach

“Clammers” who clam for a living use proper rakes and clam baskets to keep their catch fresh. It is back breaking work and they fish in all kinds of weather. If you have the opportunity to watch these fisherpeople, it will guarantee a whole new level of appreciation for the food on your plate!

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Mussel boat harvesting the blue mussels at Seal Cove PEI.                                      Photo: EL Roach

Mussel growers on PEI fish year round and many rivers are harvested with their ‘socks’ marked by the familiar buoys. PEI’s ‘blue mussel’ is a favorite nationwide and is one of the provinces largest industries. As a child I picked wild blue mussels off the rocks on our shore – they have come a long way since then.

As the evening sun sets on this large expanse of sand flats, this father/son duo make their way home, with whetted appetites, to cook up their bar clam and soft shell clam feast.

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Photo: EL Roach

Clay shores and sandy beaches are in abundance in this small province. Whether your pleasure is rocky shores or long, squeaky-clean sandy beaches, it is sure to delight even the most discerning beach comber’s appetite.

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A long stretch of sandy beach can be quickly transformed into a beautiful, rugged, rocky coastline.                                                        Photo: Angie Packer Dunn

P.E.I.’s beach combers habitually collect the abundant sea glass shards, deposited on the beaches on low tide. Some of these pieces have been in the ocean waters, tumbling for decades, to become smooth opaque gems. Ocean worn in all shapes, sizes and colors, sea glass is a collector’s dream, and can be found in local artisan shops, fashioned into intricate pieces of jewelry and keepsakes.

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Sea glass by the Seashore.                                                                                                  Photo: EL Roach

I hope you enjoyed a walk on the beach in PEI ~ if you haven’t had this pleasure, then my wish is for you to have this virtual walk with me.

“Eternity begins and ends with the ocean’s tides.”

Chapter 9: Trout Fishing in PEI

Victoria Day – May’s Long Weekend

“The fish were so plentiful, you had to go behind a tree to bait the hook.” ….R. Fee Roach

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Mid May’s long weekend ‘Victoria Day’, also known as ‘picnic day’* brings young and old alike out on the first sunny weekend holiday. Trout fishing season officially opens and for this weekend only, families can enjoy the experience without the required fishing license. As morning dawned, it was cloudy and overcast. By noon, the wind removed the cloud cover and the sun beamed through the trees. Out came the fishing poles and worms, but not a seasoned fisherwoman, I forgot a bucket for my catch!

DSCF2647A stocked pond in the Caledonia hills, (Ben’s Lake), that has been in business for several decades brought some entertainment and for about $3.50 per pound, I could take my ‘catch’ home. The pond is stocked each season with over 5000 pounds of young trout, each weighing about a pound each. The young fish are brought from a fish ‘hatchery’ nearby, and are plentiful on this spring day.

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After the fish are caught, they are weighed. In a wet sink outside you can clean and fillet your catch, leaving the discarded fish heads and ‘innards’ to be ground up and recycled back into the pond for fish food. Nothing is wasted here!! (Cleaning our catch ~ I did NOT participate in this activity!) DSCF2663SignThe rules for our fishing experience were clearly displayed on the side of the ‘weighing hut’, where we were supplied with fish nets and buckets. Expecting the fishing experience to last for at least 2-3 hours, we were finished, with fish caught, cleaned, and on our way home in little over one hour! It might sound like cheating but it was a novelty that we could enjoy the fresh air, sunshine, and bring home our catch of the day, without sacrificing the entire day.

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Early in the season, there were few flies or mosquitoes. The water was moving rapidly and was free of moss and long grasses. Young families, arriving by the carload were squealing with delight, jubilant over their catches. Little children were experiencing their first fishing trip of the season. DSCF2653DSCF2655 That evening, we feasted on our speckled trout, and made a customary toast to Queen Victoria. I had come a long way from peanut butter sandwiches and orange Kool-aid™!

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*PICNIC DAY: THE EARLY YEARS

As a kid in the early 60’s, a tin lunch box was packed with peanut butter sandwiches on soft white bread, and orange Kool-aid™ in a mason jar to drink. I would then set off to picnic with friends. The destination was within walking distance of course, and the ultimate goal was to find a ‘secret spot’ in the woods; spread out a blanket and feast on the contents of my lunch box.

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Real Trout Fishing – Later The Hard Way

Al“There are two types of fisherman – those who fish for sport and those who fish for fish.” ~Author Unknown~

Real trout fishing (an arduous task for the faint of heart) is an experience in itself. Arming ourselves with fishing licenses, plastic tubs with clay & dew worms, rods, reels & rubber boots, we set off to find those ‘fishing holes’ that may or may not be known to the locals. Lathered with bug spray, we were determined to be undaunted by the black flies, who also came out in droves for the occasion. Many bridges over rivers and brooks by North Lake had a vehicle or two parked with anglers fishing nearby.

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“The fishing was good; it was the catching that was bad.” … A.K.Best

We settled down under one such bridge, and perched on the rocks to wait for the first ‘bite’. A pair of geese and a lone pigeon, startled by our presence, flew off in a huff, verbalizing their displeasure with squawks and honks. A short while later we had to move on. The trout were not biting here! The only thing biting was the black flies!     ********************************************************************************************* This is trout fishing at its finest, with a large dose of patience being the order of the day! Punts and dories dotted the riverbanks along this pond near North Lake, waiting like faithful servants, for their next fishing trip. trout fishing2 The scenery on our trout fishing tour was by far, the most rewarding. Though we didn’t catch trout for our dinner that particular day… we brought home lasting memories of a day like no other. Invigorated by the fresh clean air, sleep came quickly to us that night, with visions of large trout dancing in our heads.

Chapter 8: Spring in Prince Edward Island

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“April Showers Bring May Flowers.”

Beautiful beyond description.                                            Photo: E.D.Stanley

Witnesses to this scene in a field of Queen Anne’s lace will be tempted to overlook the wildflowers, overshadowed by this youthful beauty!

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The calendar tells us it is spring. But anyone in PEI has only to look out the window to refute this fact. Mounds of snow still linger, residuals of numerous snowstorms throughout what some say was one of the longest winters they can remember. With the official spring here I would be remiss if I didn’t blog about spring in PEI of the not so distant past. After moving here, spring was one season I had forgotten about. So over time I made notes about this wonderful season. A season of awakening and new beginnings.

A Typical Spring in PEI

The last remnants of winter snow and ice has melted away. Winter boots and skis are stored away once again, and finally, spring arrives on P.E.I. After ice and snow storms ravaged P.E.I. for four months, spring is joyfully welcomed. April’s heavy rains, and rare days of sunshine bring the first vestiges of green, and new life forms appear.

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Bald Eagle                                                          Photo: Paul Arsenault Photography PEI

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Raccoons are plentiful in PEI.                       Photo: Paul Arsenault Photography PEI

The month of May arrives with small animals appearing in droves. Skunks and raccoons return, as if by magic, to steal young daffodil bulbs, or to hide in compost bins to await their next feast. Bald eagles hover overhead, ready to dive into the shallow waters to feed on fish now visible since the ice has left.

Young red fox cubs are often seen scampering across the fields hunting mice and moles that have come out of hibernation. Food is plentiful now. Mounted on windows throughout the countryside, hummingbird feeders stand replenished, awaiting their first visitors. Islanders love their wildlife! Finch birds that seemingly hibernated in some areas are back singing their spring songs on top of the feeders. They mimic our joy of seeing sunshine and some green grass.

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A young fox cub ready for play.                  Photo: Paul Arsenault Photography PEI

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Squirrels and bluejays often compete for the same food.                         Photo: ELR

Canada Geese dot the cornfields and hay fields feasting in preparation for their young. Ganders stand at attention making their arrivals known with incessant honking. Squirrels and Blue jays fight over nuts and sunflower seeds heaped in feeders.

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A Blue heron swoops in for a landing on the shores of the Montague River where fish are plentiful. A welcome sight, they signal the official arrival of spring in P.E.I.

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A Blue Heron is almost invisible in these surroundings.                                         Photo; ELR

Fiddleheads (young fern not yet unfurled); now abundant near damp and mossy low lying areas are a delicacy for those who relish the earthy flavor of this natural wild growing plant. Fiddleheads are rich with nutritional value and if I was to liken them to anything, I would say they taste like spring!

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Fiddleheads about to unfurl!

In the woodlands of Naufrage, near streams rich with damp soil, other delightful signs of spring are sprouting. You might mistake this wildflower with its large bright conspicuous leaves for buttercups, but a closer inspection of this five-petal flower reveals leaflets similar to a strawberry plant. The “Silverwood” wildflower is related, as they are both of the rose family. This plant provides seeds for small birds and mice and is named for this silvery underside of the leaves. The leaves were believed to relieve the pain of sore feet, if stuffed into the soles of your shoes.

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Silverwood flower commonly found near streams.                                             Photo: ELR

The spring brings the clothes out to the clothesline to capture that ‘fresh air’ aroma that cannot be mimicked no matter how hard they try. The earth is still very damp and the moist clay is ready for planting. We have very fertile soil here in PEI and of course the potato (which should almost be our provincial emblem) will be sprouting everywhere in the countless farmer’s fields from East Point to West Point.

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Rubber boots – a ‘must have’ in the spring. Photo; ELR

The four seasons are very distinct here. One does not blend into the other as I often experienced in another province whereby one day we were wearing boots and the next day, open toed shoes. We wear clothing appropriate for all four seasons and it is prudent that a resident of PEI be the owner of a pair of rubber boots!

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Soon I will back on the shore, enjoying our spectacular sunsets, beach combing and well…just sitting.

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“Just Sit”                                                                        Photo; Paul Arsenault Photography PEI

Chapter 7: A PEI Christmas Tree Farm; in Pursuit of the Perfect Tree

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A frosty snow covered country road.                                        Photo: ELR

“It lifts existence on a plane of snow

One level higher than the earth below,

One level nearer heaven overhead,

And last year’s berries shining scarlet red.”

“A Winter Eden”  – by Robert Frost

Early to mid December marks the time in most households in P.E.I. to gather the family for a frosty outing to your favorite tree farm or tree lot, to choose the “perfect Christmas tree”.

Heading out to find the perfect Christmas Tree.                                         Photo: ELR

This tree farm in Cape Bear near Beach Point, P.E.I. does not have the traffic like most urban tree lots. The owner is a humble man, who remembers each customer’s Christmas tree preferences intimately. I suspect grooming the perfect tree for his customers is a ‘labor of love’, and nearing that magical time for Christmas tree hunting, you can be assured your tree is ready and waiting. It doesn’t get fresher than this!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * Outfitted with hat, scarves, mittens and wool socks, we loaded our 4×4 truck with saws, ropes and an axe. There was a light snow falling and the ground cover was spectacular. The sun was working hard to burn through the frosty haze as we drove over the snowplowed country roads.

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Mr. Jordan expertly cut down a huge tree for us.                                                          Photo: ELR

Our wait wasn’t long. Bumping over the snow covered road, a pickup truck rumbled along. Mr. Jordan stepped out, proudly sporting a nifty chainsaw. I was ready for a lengthy trek through the woods, secretly hoping it would take a while as the scenery was breathtaking! Listening intently to my description of the ‘perfect tree’, Mr. Jordan, led us in a procession through snow laden branches, all the while chatting about his trees. Within a matter of minutes, he led us to…the perfect tree! It shouldn’t have been this easy, especially when I was prepared to look at various trees from various angles. The temperature within our snowy cocoon of trees had dropped significantly. Not wanting to stretch our host’s patience, we all agreed on a 15 foot spruce. Out here on the tree farm, a Christmas tree can be substantially dwarfed by the tall coniferous trees surrounding it!

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The perfect Christmas tree.                                                                                Photo: ELR

It was a bit of a struggle loading this green giant onto the bed of our pickup. While this chore was being expertly executed, what would a snowy outing like this be without some horsing around. One of my ‘tree hunting’ accomplices was about to come face to face with a snow bank!

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A little horsing around. Photo; ELR

On our way home, we took a short drive down to the Beach Point lighthouse for no other reason than a photo op on the beach with snow drifts mingled with sand. The wind was strong and the air a little frostier by the water, but it was well worth the trip.

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Beach Point Lighthouse                       Photo:  ELR

Rewind 50 years:

Photo: google search: Janie and Harry MacLean in their box sleigh led by a horse named Doll. Clyde River.

As a young child, my most favorite part of Christmas was riding along in the back of a box sleigh with our horse puffing giant clouds of steam out of its mouth. My Dad in his ‘parka’ would stand at the front of the sleigh nudging our faithful horse through the deep snow (and it seemed deeper back then) on the way to the woods behind our house. ********************************************************************************************* After a few hours of shaking snow off branches and fingers and toes growing numb from the cold, we would settle on the family Christmas tree. The trees were never perfect in shape, but to a child in the woods surrounded by nature’s bounty, every tree looked perfect. The scent of a freshly cut fir tree is second to none. On the way back to the house my sister and I would stare at the tree in awe…it looked so big taking up most of the room in the back of the sleigh. The tree did not disappoint. Decorated with a menagerie of ornaments handed down over the years, the tree was the focal point of our Christmas décor.

Merry Christmas everyone!

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Christmas in the Country.                                                                                     Photo: ELR

Chapter 6: PEI’s Aboriginal Community: A Mi’Kmaq PowWow

If you are in PEI during the month of August, you are cordially invited to the Abegweit First Nation’s PowWow in Panmure Island on the south side of PEI. This spiritual/cultural event attracts visitors each year from Eastern Canada and the New England states.

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Panmure Island                            Photo: Government of PEI

It was a hot August day; a day when our Island Mi’kmaq community was hosting their annual PowWow. I felt trepidation entering this area of sacred ceremony. In all the years I have lived on this Island I had never attended a PowWow ; not one. I worried I wasn’t dressed appropriately for the occasion. I need not fear. This was a day of celebration. Cars were parked in a grassy clearing in an official parking space in the woods. I slid out the passenger side and was immediately embraced with hot, humid and breathless air in the spruce enclosed thicket.

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Ladies preparing for the ceremonial dance. Photo: ELR

I felt honored to be included… included in this day (weekend) of celebrations. Looking about I witnessed Mi’kmaq dress in various degrees. I didn’t understand. I wanted to understand what the beautiful dress attire meant – whether a beautiful decorated dress on a female or a grand headdress on a male warrior. Needless to say…I was in awe. And I had a lot to learn! ********************************

A Moment in Time

So …I sat and watched…and listened. When allowed… I took pictures, all too aware I wasn’t to intrude at various times during their celebration. There was a time for pictures…and a time to just sit and be present…and to breathe, listen, and be aware of the sacred ceremony taking place. The dancers came in all shapes and sizes from the very young to the elderly. A common theme was their pride in their dance and their ceremony. I was moved as a witness to this professional demonstration of pride in their culture.

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The ceremonial dance – this dress jingled as she danced.        Photo:  ELR

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A male dancer proudly wearing his ceremonial dress. Photo: ELR

A typical Mi’Kmaq PowWow begins with the ‘Sacred fire’ ceremony on the first day and setup of the grounds and exhibitors. The following day(s), traditional and inter-tribal performances and dances are performed throughout the afternoons. On the last day there are the traditional dances and ends with a PowWow feast (usually with Maritime Lobster as the main dish) and a closing ceremony. ************************************************************************************************* I felt at home here. (‘Here’ – is Panmure Island with the sheltered St. Mary’s Bay on one side and an ocean beach on the other). The Chief welcomed us and made me feel at home. I wasn’t a stranger. I loved the sights, the music, and the distant beat of drums as a group of young men in a drum band practiced. There was a contagious feeling of community and belonging. They are such a proud people. And I loved their ceremonial dress. It was indescribable…the time…the talent…and the history behind each ceremonial dress.

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An elder in full ceremonial dress.  Photo:  ELR

I was chastised for calling their beautiful dress…a ‘costume’. Kudos to an elder…for setting me straight- one of those times when I wished my ‘filter’ was engaged. It was not. I apologized. My earlier trepidation upon arrival had now returned.

 

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A wee girl dressed for the occasion caught my attention. She posed gracefully so I could capture her and her dress perfectly. No more than 3 or 4 years old, she is already embracing her heritage and pride in her Mi’kmaq culture.

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A beautiful little girl displaying her ceremonial dress. Photo: ELR

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Photo: ELR

Booths are set up with an array of wares. Handmade accessories; ladies and men’s ceremonial and traditional Mi’Kmaq dresses and suits; musical instruments including authentic drums; children’s toys and a booth selling bear grease – something for everyone! I choose to buy a leather bracelet with a peace symbol; one of my favorite things.

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Booths displaying everything from clothing, toys, and accessories.     Photo: ELR

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Beautiful traditional Mi’kmaq clothing.                                             Photo: ELR

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Bear Grease. Drum makers use Bear grease as a moisturizer   claiming it will keep the drum hide flexible and vibrant.      Photo: ELR

A traditional Teepee was erected on the site – a nod to their history and a clear demonstration the Island’s Mi’kmaq communities wish to preserve and pass on a part of their heritage and tradition. Historically the family teepee bison skin covers were richly painted and drawn upon. This teepee was adorned with powerful wolves howling to a large moon and the eagle, a Mi’kmaq sacred symbol soaring overhead. (For the Indigenous people the wolf signified strength, endurance, and Instinct linked with intelligence and family values and the eagle symbolizes courage wisdom and strength).

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A traditional Teepee.                                                                  Photo: ELR

The afternoon passed quickly and soon the sun was turning the orangy red color of early evening and the unmistakable high pitched buzz of mosquitoes could be heard. Reluctantly we took leave of this happy celebration promising to return another year.

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Wela’lin – Thank you for the honor and for inviting me to share your celebration!

Chapter 5: A Pioneer Cemetery

~ Gone…but not Forgotten ~

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In Memory of Sarah                                                                                 Photo:  ELR

“Many a fervid man writes books as cold and flat as graveyard stones.”
                                                                       …. Elizabeth Barrett Browning

If I were not watching closely, I would have missed the signpost pointing to this quaint little pioneer graveyard. Nestled behind bracken, weeds, and overgrown shrubs, on the north shore of P.E.I., St. Margaret of Scotland Pioneer Cemetery quietly stands. At one time it had been lovingly tended, as there are scarcely any weeds around the grave stones of all sizes and descriptions. These grave markers from yesteryear tell a myriad of stories.

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In Memory of John McIntosh  Photo:  ELR

A large stone marker bears not only the vital statistics of the deceased, but also a description of his accomplishments. The engraving detailed the deceased’s longevity. In memory of John McIntosh, died Dec 14 1881; Age 92 years; Margaret McDonald, his beloved wife died Jan 15, 1884; Age 100 years; Reqiuescant in Peace.

Engraved below the vital statistics, a small vignette proudly proclaims:
“He was for several years a member of Parliament and one of the pioneers of responsible government.”

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In Memory of Margaret                   Photo:  ELR

The graveyard’s stone markers had not fared well over the last century. In dire need of care, with some of the headstones tipping precariously close to the ground, I part the low lying scrub to view the simple memoriam inscribed on a headstone, almost totally obscured by the ground which seemed to be swallowing it whole.
The vital statistics were no longer visible (if they ever were) as well as the surname. I was intrigued by the lone inscription;“In memory of MARGARET”
A crucifix, with a sheep in repose is carved inside an engraved heart. Roses lovingly adorn the uppermost corners, and in spite of the absence of any other information, the message is clear; “Margaret” was loved.

Some of the grave markers were very grand.  There was a marked and vast difference between some of the simpler markers and the tall stately granite stones.  Some granite markers were flush with the ground and the grass, moss and bracken appear to obliterate them completely.

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A stately tombstone:  In Memory of Peter Angus MacPhee; Died Jan. 10 1868 Photo: ELR

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A humble and endearing granite marker flush with the ground…for a Mother Flora and her Son Hugh.                                                                                                                       Photo:  ELR

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Moss grows on this Sandstone marker engraved for Sarah McGillvray.

My visit to St. Margaret’s little pioneer cemetery was on a hot summer day. There was scarcely a sound, other than the occasional bee or insect buzzing around. Sitting on the hard weathered ground, I experienced a communion of sorts, with the souls buried beneath this hallowed ground.

“My words fly up, my thoughts remain below; Words without thoughts never to heaven go.”                                                                            …William Shakespeare

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In Memory of Angus McDonald                                                     Photo:  ELR

[A restoration project was completed on this cemetery since this post was written. For more information visit the site: www.peipioneercemetery.com