stillpoint

musings from Canadian author Cheryl Cooke Harrington ... home of The Write Spot

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Green Gables


This is a summer of celebration in Canada – we're 150 years old – so it seemed like a great time to hit the road with my friend Kate and discover new-to-us places in this great country. Our ultimate destination: Iles de la Madeleine, a remote and breathtakingly beautiful archipelago in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, five hours by boat from Prince Edward Island. But with so much to see along the way, expect a post or two before we get there.

Our travels took us through Montreal, Quebec City, and Rivière-du-Loup in Quebec; Miramichi and Shediac in New Brunswick; and then across the spectacular Confederation Bridge to lovely Prince Edward Island – famous for its rich red soil, excellent potatoes and, of course, that little red-haired girl known around the world: Anne of Green Gables.

Confederation Bridge, at 12.9 km (8 miles) it's the
longest bridge in the world that crosses ice-covered water. 

Beautiful Prince Edward Island 

We spent three days on Prince Edward Island, enjoying the scenery, red sand beaches, and some of the best fish and chips I have ever eaten. From the window of our ocean-view room in Summerside, we were delighted by the sight of tall ships entering the harbour, part of a Canada 150 celebration tour.


Tall ship approaching Summerside PEI

This trip was a second visit to PEI for me and also for Kate. Our first times were many years ago and we both traveled with husbands who had no interest whatsoever in anything Anne-related. This time, we vowed to see it all, beginning with a drive-by photo op of the little house in New London where author Lucy Maud Montgomery was born. 

Birthplace of Lucy Maud Montgomery in New London, PEI

From there, we headed to Silver Bush – the lovely farm where Lucy Maud spent summers with her cousins, the Campbells. Members of the Campbell family have owned the farm since 1867 and now operate it as a museum. Montgomery called Silver Bush "the shining castle of my childhood" and it's easy to see why... such an incredibly pretty place.

Silver Bush, The Campbell family home since 1867.

The farm at Silver Bush, Anne's "Lake of Shining Waters" in the distance.

The parlor at Silver Bush

A bedroom at Silver Bush

Could this be Anne's Matthew Cuthbert?
No, just one of the guides, waiting to take us on a horse and buggy ride.

Molly the horse took us past the Lake of Shining Waters on our ride around the farm.

After a lovely boxed lunch on the front porch (including glasses of "awfully nice raspberry cordial") we left Silver Bush to travel the short distance to Cavendish and Green Gables – another spot much loved by author L. M. Montgomery whose cousins, the MacNeill family, were the original owners of the farm. Green Gables is now a National Historic Site and part of Prince Edward Island National Park. Kate and I spent a memorable few hours soaking up the Anne atmosphere while exploring the house and grounds (and the gift shop, of course). I brought home a copy of Anne, la maison aux pignons verts (Anne of Green Gables) which I hope to re-read and enjoy while at the same time improving my French. Time will tell.

The green gables that gave the farm its name.

Green shutters and flowering vines.

Green Gables

Windblown peonies in the Green Gables garden.

The gardens at Green Gables.

Dining room at Green Gables. The house is authentically Victorian throughout.

A little bedroom at Green Gables.

Matthew Cuthbert's hat and cane?

Best summer job ever! Interpretive staff playing Anne and her "kindred spirit" Diana.

Alas, we couldn't stay. But if I close my eyes, I'm back on Anne's island... red sand, salty breezes, and favourite stories of my childhood brought to life. Hope you enjoyed sharing the visit! Next up... lobster fishing in Shediac Bay.



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Wednesday, June 21, 2017

picture says it all...





stillpoint... blog of Canadian author Cheryl Cooke Harrington

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Wednesday, June 07, 2017

it's hard being grebe...


Today dawned gloriously sunny in Toronto so I packed up my camera and went for a walk by the lake. We've had a lot of rain and flooding in the last month and water levels are still higher than I ever remember seeing them at Colonel Samuel Smith Park. The swans were flooded out of their traditional nesting spot in the pond and have retreated to the wooded bank. Those trees in the foreground are usually high and dry, well back from the water's edge.

Mute swans at Colonel Sam Smith Park, Toronto

The top of those rock walls are usually a meter above lake level

Out on the lake, the grebes are busy rebuilding after a bullying cormorant destroyed their first attempt at a nest. I hope they'll be successful this time - they're beautiful birds and diligent parents.

Red-necked Grebe on nesting platform,
Colonel Sam Smith Park, Toronto

Red-necked Grebe pair working on their nest

Grebe nest in yacht club basin at Sam Smith Park

Red-necked Grebe on patrol

One of those nasty Cormorant bullies, too close
for comfort, as a Grebe keeps watch from afar.

I heard but couldn't spot an Orchard Oriole that had a group of bird watchers all a-twitter. Spotted but couldn't photograph a lovely little Wilson's Warbler, and watched a Robin capture what I thought was a gigantic worm but turned out to be this tiny Brown Snake. The Robin eventually abandoned it on the path. Maybe his eyes were too big for his beak? High above, someone else waited to claim the prize.

Brown Snake

Mine!

Back on the pond, this Mallard Duck and Red-winged Blackbird made it easy for me to photograph them, almost as if they were posing to show off their best features.


"Alright Mr. DeMille, I'm ready for my close-up."

Wind-blown Blackbird

Until next time, may all your rambles be happy ones!






stillpoint... blog of Canadian author Cheryl Cooke Harrington

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Wednesday, May 24, 2017

hawk in the 'hood


This handsome red-tailed hawk spent an entire morning hanging out on the fence behind my building. The neighbourhood robins were absolutely frantic but aside from an occasional imperious glance, the hawk ignored their scolding and even the occasional daring dive-bomber.







 







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Wednesday, May 10, 2017

babes in zooland...


A few weeks ago a friend and I spent a happy morning getting to know the two and four-footed residents of the High Park Zoo. A Toronto institution since 1893, the little zoo made news world-wide last year when its resident Capybaras escaped and went walkabout for most of the summer. The whole city seemed obsessed with finding the missing rodents. News reports regularly showed camo-clad people hunting through the bushes around Grenadier Pond brandishing cameras and nets... but the wily Capybaras eluded every sleuth and would-be captor. Eventually, one of the pair was spotted and lured into a trap by zoo staff. The other ran wild and free for a while longer but finally the duo, appropriately named Bonnie and Clyde, were safely returned to their newly-reinforced pen inside the zoo compound. 

Plans are afoot to move the Capybaras to upgraded quarters with a much larger swimming area and other rodent spa amenities. Meanwhile, Bonnie and Clyde seem content to bask in the sunshine and show off their three little "Capy-babies" – aren't they sweet?


There's a contest going on to name the Capybara babies.
What would you suggest?

This little dude looks as if he's plotting his own escape!


Soaking up the sun.

There are plenty of other critters keeping the Capybara family company in hillside paddocks. Here are a few of my favourites.

Bison, looking a bit itchy as he sheds his winter coat.

The Highland cattle were more interested in breakfast than visitors.

A sign on the Llama enclosure read, "Watch out, we spit!"
Apparently that's how you know when they're tired of your company.

Wallaby, enjoying his breakfast.

This Yak seemed quite interested in my camera.
I love how alert and intelligent he looks.

We waited, hoping for a tail display, but
this gorgeous peacock turned his back on us. 

As soon as we walked away, we heard him shouting and
feather-rattling, so hurried back to see. Turn around, turn around!

Finally. Isn't he glorious? Oh, that vivid blue!

So ended our day in High Park. It was my first visit in many (many!) years. Now that I know what I've been missing, I will definitely return more often. In case you missed it, while in the park we also visited the Cherry Blossom festival on Grenadier Hill. My photos are here








stillpoint... blog of Canadian author Cheryl Cooke Harrington





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