As my school-board colleagues were sending me "happy summer" texts this past week, I got thinking back to my first few years of teaching, and the sincere but often misguided efforts I made to promote equity in my classroom...
There are many reasons I love PEI, two of which are the night sky (sorry, no photos), and the tremendous canvas of colours and textures along the North Shore of the Island.
Like many people my age, I can't help by marvel when I consider the vastness of the universe. And, like many people younger than I am who share my mainly urban lifestyle, I rarely get to see first hand fodder to inspire this consideration. Light pollution, and lots of it, often rule out even the most amateur stargazing adventures in and around the city.
But on the Island, on any quasi-clear night, thousands of stars are easily admired with the naked eye.
Many times have I put off taking out the recycling or compost bin until after dark, and been richly rewarded with an astronomy display seldom emulated in a planetarium!
During the daytime, it's the palette of the most distinguished artist I admire as I roam the beaches of St Peters Harbour and the surrounding area...
We're lucky enough to have found a spot on PEI's north shore, a walk to the ocean, and in a harbour that looks across to the incredible and ever-changing dunes of Greenwich National Park. There is also an old, land-locked lighthouse within walking distance.
My ideal day on the Island includes at least one walk to the ocean, and so I am often by the water, admiring and sometimes snapping photos of the russets, greens and golds that dance with the clear waters and blue skies to form my most favourite piece of art!
The vastness of the landscape is what impresses me most, I think. Everything is just so huge, without ever appearing pretentious.
Sneakers the Wonderdog, who seems to love the ocean as much as I do, often accompanies me on these meanderings when she is here, and frequently swims with me in these waters, touted online as the "warmest north of the Carolinas".
Yesterday, we walked towards the lighthouse in old St Peters Harbour, and stopped along the way to admire (chase) some large herons who were doing a little evening fishing in the estuary near the lighthouse "pond". (Whereas I am impressed with big skies, she is impressed with big birds!)
The water was delightfully warm and peaceful, and the view of the old lighthouse from there was astounding. As I did not have my camera with me, I wanted to come back the next day to take some photos.
Of course, an iPhone doesn't really do it justice, and I am never able to capture the wildlife, though I did manage to take a few pics tonight of two herons who -- rather than flying off when Sneakers and I approached -- made like sticks and sat very still at the top of some old, dead trees.
My doggie didn't spot them, but I did! :-)
It's my seventh summer on the Island now, and my sixth here in our house on the north shore... I'm frequently amazed at the ever-changing tapestry of the coastline. It's as if the artist is mulling over the finished product, and keeps adding new bits, or removing what she's changed her mind about: A little less gold here, a little more rust there, some taller grass here to add texture and depth, and some shading there to enhance the appearance of light.....
The result of all this wind- and water-induced shifting about is an endless delight to the eyes as the outdoor gallery constantly features new works by the same artist on a favourite theme!
Much has been written and discussed lately about Airbnb, the self-professed "rent out your spare room for a little extra cash" website and app.
Not all of the commentary has been flattering. Home wrecking incidents and competition for affordable housing are highlighted, and some local governments are imposing heavy (and in my opinion unfair) restrictions on hosting.
Personally, I think that – – done "right" – – Airbnb is a great way to build community and make the world a kinder, smaller, safer and more respectful place.
Here are some of my top reasons for hosting on Airbnb…
Meet Interesting People
Over the past several years, we've had the privilege of hosting a variety of noteworthy visitors, including an engineer working on the island runway extension at the airport I fly out of in Toronto, two retired biologists (ornithologists), a group of Polish astronomy students, and a PhD student working on the Hadron collider. We've also had our share of artists and musicians hoping to be inspired by new surroundings on PEI and and in Toronto, as well as travellers coming to North America for their first time and stopping in for a night or two at one of our places to rest up and get their bearings before setting out on a cross-Canada camping tour.
Whoever comes to visit, we almost always end up having some deep conversations over breakfast or before turning in at night, about the state of various world affairs.
Sharing ideas about ways to support and promote things like sustainability, feminism (and equity in general), responsible parenting and/or dog ownership and a wide range of other important topics invariably flow from these sorts of conversations.
Airbnb facilitates the sorts of "kindred spirit" relationships that no sports team or dating site could ever hope to foster!
Share Favourite Local Hangouts
Another reason I enjoy hosting on Airbnb is that I get to share some of my favourite places in Canada with others who have not yet discovered them.
Whether it's where to have dinner, or the best place to catch a beautiful sunrise or sunset, as a lifelong Torontonian and an avid wanna-be PEIslander, I am fairly knowledgable about both locales, which works out well for visitors trying to get a sense of what they should do with their limited local time.
I'm always eager to share my favorite, less-touristy hotspots with both our Toronto and PEI visitors, and get a real kick out of other people getting as excited about a place as I have been when they, too, discover it.
Support the Local Economy
People who use Airbnb tend to be people who would not necessarily use a more traditional hotel, either because they can't afford it, or because they prefer a more personal, authentic accommodation experience. And so I feel like hosting brings spenders into town who might otherwise not be here.
At the very least, they have to buy food/visit local restaurants while staying, and, often – – as in the case of the antique and curio-hunter staying in my kids' play house tonight – – they buy a lot more while traveling.
Since I provide essentials and a few little frills at all my listings, I am also pumping money into the local economy that might otherwise not have been spent.
Practice and Develop Life Skills
Running a side hustle like renting a spare room on Airbnb allows one to develop a number of important skills. First and foremost, I love hospitality and the art presentation, two skills I learned by necessity the summer before my mother died.
Painfully uncomfortable and often nauseous from either the cancer or the toxic chemo she was taking to buy herself a few more months to get her affairs in order, my mother spent much of her final summer on earth tucked into a sleeping bag on a fold-out lawnchair nestled into a corner of the garden she loved so much. I returned to Toronto the summer of '94 from a stint working at a hotel in southern Germany, where I had learned about presentation at a mid- to high-end restaurant on site. I quickly put these skills to use preparing small, tasty drinks and light meals, enticingly presented, for my mother, while as she/we played host to various friends and work colleagues of hers who had come to basically pay their last respects before she finally moved into palliative care at Toronto Grace that fall.
Hosting through Airbnb some 20 years later has helped me to revive these skills and honour the memory of my mother as I prepare artfully designed breakfast services for my various guests.
Even when we have visitors availing themselves of more basic, "self-serve" accommodations, I always prepare a nice breakfast basket and fresh flowers (when available) to make the first impression pleasing to the eye. These frequently get rave reviews, and I relish helping make people's stay a delight.
Developing one's ability to be a great host is a skill which I feel is easily transferrable to many other parts of one's personal and professional life.
Imagine if we all treated one another in our day-to-day lives as valued guests in our personal space… How much kinder a place could the world become?!
I also feel like being an Airbnb host it helps me refine my critical thinking and diplomacy skills: As a host I constantly need to assess the safety and feasibility of a situation. For example, should I accept this particular booking request or are these people just looking for a place to party?
I read reviews, research guest profiles, and – – if needed – – craft carefully-worded, diplomatic messages inviting new users to flesh out of their profiles and consider including a personal picture of themselves rather than their pet Chihuahua, in order to establish trust within the Airbnb community.
And as I am reading those user reviews, I consider how well I myself behave when I am a guest; am I respectful? Quiet? Tidy?
When Airbnb offers me options like "instant book" (which strike me as tailored to encouraged quick turnover and impersonal service) I develop the resistance to the temptation to make a quicker buck by rejecting that option, so that I can maintain the integrity of personal, clear communication between myself and my would-be guests before manually accepting any reservation request.
Become a Mentor Parent
This summer, my kids caught the Airbnb bug: Spurred on initially by the thought of making a few extra bucks for spending money, they pimped out their new Playhouse on Airbnb.
One of my twins in particular really got into the swing of things, writing a little welcome message in a guestbook on site, and preparing and rehearsing a "spiel" he gave to guests when they first arrived. He also had to negotiate with his brother about a fair pay arrangement, given the inequitable split in workload. Finally, there was the learning that there are different sorts of people in the world, and just because someone is not "like us", doesn't make them a "bad" person.
While the charm of being hosted by a 12-year-old monozygotic twins paid dividends with guests, my kids were learning valuable people skills and collaboration in return, both transferrable in the "real world".
We've had many conversations over the past few months about what it means to be a good host. As I have learned and continue to learn from my own experiences and from other, fellow hosts, hosting through Airbnb has helped me guide my young entrepreneurs in this learning.
Pay for the Extras
A lot of people think you can make buckets of money off Airbnb. And in some contexts you can. (Take, for instance, those who purchase multiple properties for the sole purpose of accommodating such short term rentals in cities were demand is high, or if you happen to have a spare room in a city like Boston, which has the highest hotel rates in America.) But if you are doing things as they were originally intended, that is, renting out "extra space" in your own home periodically, and you live in a more "normal" city, then the fiscal payout can be negligible.
By the time I buy the extra pillowcases and towels, refresh the flowers and/or buy the baskets to display the snack or breakfast items, pay taxes on my extra income (yes, I claim it like an idiot!), there is not that much left for "fun money". And there are some days when cleaning up after my guests and preparing perfection for the next ones seems considerably more of a time-consuming chore than the few dollars I make off the side hustle are worth.
On the other hand, if you do rent often, you can, over time, make enough money to save up for special projects or alleviate the burden of those little extras we all enjoy but most of us can't really afford. Some of the things I've paid for with Airbnb earnings outside our regular budget include dinner out with my girlfriend, shows and musicals, ice cream and other outings with my kids, car rental while traveling, and a playhouse for my kids (almost).
Now I'm saving up for a deck for my music cabin on PEI! :-)
It frustrates me when those who embrace and participate in creative disruptions like Airbnb are penalized. On PEI, for example, you have to be registered with the tourism board to run a bed-and-breakfast. The official reasoning behind us government cash grab is that they want to ensure an excellent user experience, since their economy still have a late depends on tourism.
But how do you meet the standards of such an operation with things like a play house without electricity or running water that is never the less in-demand? (The treehouse my boys and I stayed in earlier this summer – – also without running water, and no breakfast offer – – was doing a booming business at $30 a night!)
Besides, with almost exclusively five-star ratings, what is the tourism board really worried about? (on Airbnb, guests are strongly encouraged to rate their hosts anonymously in areas such as communication, cleanliness and overall value, so if someone is running a less than stellar operation, they won't be in business for long, even without the tourism board meddling in their affairs!)
It seems to me that there is room in the economy for both five star hotels and five star Airbnb listings. Someone who is bringing a sleeping bag and paying $22 a night to stay in a playhouse wasn't going to pay $125 at the official B&B up the road anyway, and those who are staying at the "official" hotels, are not being negatively affected by their Airbnb-surfing counterparts.
And in the meantime, ideas are exchanged along with smiles and often outstanding hospitality, making the world a smaller, kinder, safer, smarter and more creative place – – even for kids!
This has been the summer of comings and goings on PEI; kids left at different times, with some overlap of visiting friends and also Tats, and now, finally, some time to myself at the end!
These various visits have resulted in a little more driving than usual, most recently, a necessary trip to Moncton, as Tats, who could only spare a weekend for the Island this summer due to school, couldn't find a flight home from Ch'town.
We decided to make a road trip of it with Alex and Sneakers in tow, and do a little geocaching along the way.
After a fabulous lunch at the Landmark Cafe (officially my new favourite restaurant on the South Shore, BTW -- but make reservations, it gets busy!), we made our way to the gateway village where I took a nap, Sneakers had a run and a pee, and Tatsy and Alex played on the playground.
We also stopped in for the obligatory Cows ice cream and picked up some chocolate covered potato chips for Tats' work/school chums before joining the lineup of cars waiting to pay good money to get off the island!
Once in New Brunswick, we did a little more geocaching, and then raced to the airport to drop Tats off for her 8-o-clock flight back to YYZ.
Where to Sleep?
Knowing I probably wouldn't have it in me to do the long drive back home to PEI's north shore again in the same day, I had planned ahead and hunted around for a relatively affordable place to spend the night.
One of the things I love about AirBnB is the ability to find unique and interesting places to sleep, on the cheap! I figured, if I can find a $30 tree house in Crapaud, then surely there must exist a spot for a 12 year old boy, a rambunctious dog, and an old lady to spend the night!!
Sure enough, a search only a few weeks prior to our travel date turned up a barn just outside of Moncton. For $20, Alex, Sneakers and I would be dry (and safe?) for the night.
The property at Indian Mountain is newly owned by Melanie, a young gal in the film industry, who envisions a large, self sustaining gathering space. She proudly showed off her property, pointing out where the berry bushes had been planted, and illustrating some of her future plans.
She's already begun renovating; the upstairs of the barn has had one wall almost entirely replaced with a large panel of windows that looks out over the back of the property, towards the woodlot and pond. Also upstairs are two punching bags, several small tents and a hammock, the ambiance enhanced by strings of Christmas lights hung here and there.
Downstairs is a "bar" and a large open area where just last week, Melanie told me, they had a DJ and set up a screen on which people were playing "old school Nintendo".
Seems like a pretty cool space!
Sleeping Arrangements, Starlight and Kittens
The idea on the property is that people can just pitch their tent -- if they have one -- anywhere inside or outside of the barn, and use the facilities on site (Mel was just in the process of installing a shower the night we stayed over). Lucky for us, Melanie let us use a spare room in the small house next to the barn -- we hauled our sleeping bags onto mattress there, and set up a little "nest" for Sneakers next to our bed.
Before turning in for a restless night, both Alex and Sneakers discovered the two barn kittens that lived on the property. Curious little cats, they were not deterred by an overenthusiastic dog, and held their own, offering in no uncertain terms to scratch Sneakers' eye out if she didn't back off!
The night sky out in rural New Brunswick was at least as lovely as the one on PEI, and Alex and I stopped to admire the stars before going inside the house and locking ourselves and our wildebeest into our bedroom for the night.
The Next Morning
After a predictably restless night on an uncomfortable bed with a kicking child and an anxious, pacing dog in the room, it was finally time to pack up our things and stuff ourselves back into our rental car for the drive home to PEI. Before we left, we picked two apples (as invited to the night before by Mel) off the tree on the property; the apples turned out to be quite tasty, as I discovered two days later, when I finally got around to eating them.
Alex and Sneakers slept pretty much all the way to the Bridge, and I sustained myself with the promise of a nice, long nap in the hammock later that afternoon!
As we approached the Bridge, I saw a sign that announced breakfast was being served at the restaurant on the conservation ctre just before the Bridge, and eager for something more substantial than the emergency snacks in our car cooler, I turned off the highway and into the parking lot, arousing Alex from his passenger seat slumbers with my change in driving direction and pace.
Jourimain Nature Centre
The large park that precedes the Confederation Bridge crossing was one I'd not heard of before, and I was delighted to find this space: There are trails for walking, and a beach at the base of the bridge from which one can (and we did) take some incredible photos.
As tide was out, and it was quite early in the day, we let Sneakers off leash, and she and Alex splashed about on the beach, hunting for seashells. Alex and I found a small sand dollar -- a rare find -- and I tucked it away carefully in one pocket of my pants, where it was soon crushed when I jammed my phone in there, forgetting it was already holding precious cargo!
After a nice time at the beach, we parked under a tree and set Sneakers up on a cozy bed in the back seat, windows open more than a crack. Then Alex and I walked through the interpretive centre and into the restaurant to enjoy some eggs and pancakes before leaving New Brunswick.
Argyle Shore... Again!
We had stopped at the red shore the day before with Tats, only to discover tide was in, so there was no "beach", and the stairs led directly into the ocean! Today our timing was a little better, and Sneakers, Alex and I were able to enjoy a nice walk along the rocky shoreline before climbing back into the car for the final leg of our trip home.
While I don't enjoy driving as much as I used to, and find chauffeuring a bit of a chore, I did enjoy the opportunity for this particular mini-road-trip of sorts. Spending quality time with some of my few favourite people in the world and discovering new travel treasures like the barn and the beach at the bridge are things that make the hassle of driving worth it!
on the island, towards the end of the summer, I've seen the signs for Old Home Week. But I never really understood what it was.
This year, however, an opportunity presented itself, and now I know what Old Home Week on PEI is!
Last Friday, we dropped a friend off at the airport around 5 p.m., and had several hours to kill before picking up my girlfriend, who was just coming down for the weekend, but on a later flight. So rather than drive all the way back out to the house, Alex and I decided to check out this Old Home Week business and see for ourselves what all the fuss is about.
Turns out it's a bit like the CNE in Toronto, but on a smaller scale.
One similarity to Toronto' exhibition is the opportunistic parking business that springs up around the fairgrounds during the week: Just like in Toronto, Ch'town locals with homes backing onto the street adjacent to the fair put up hand crafted signs inviting people to park on their lawns -- and they pack those cars in! Alex and I estimated that on one lawn, there must have been at least fifty cars, which -- if they turn over 2-3 times a day -- garner the property owners a cool $5-6K in cash each year!!
As it was already quite late at night, the line ups were long, and Alex was pretty tired, we elected not to go on any rides. And although we did throw away $20 on one of those unwinnable ball-in-the-milk-crate carnival games, we spent most of our evening in the farm animal building, admiring the award-winning cows and alpaca, and trying our hand at some brain puzzles.
We also stopped to check out the horse races (but didn't do any betting).
Soon enough, it was time to hunt down our car and head back to the airport to collect our next visitor.
As Alex remarked, we were glad to have gone to check it out, but Old Home Week is one of those things where once is enough.
So, sleeping in an 8x8 "room on stilts" with two silly, kicking 12-year-olds was perhaps not my most brilliant plan ever, in terms of relaxation techniques while on vacation. Though in fairness, one cannot say it wasn't an adventure!
Perusing the AirBnB listings on PEI recently, I came across a budget listing for a no-frills "treehouse" in Crapaud, near the lovely, little village of Victoria-by-the-Sea.
Knowing the boys would love it, I booked one night.
After camp on Monday, we set off for Crapaud, making a brief stop en route to pick up a giant pillow which I had scored on Kijiji for the boys' playhouse which was due to be delivered to our property in St Peter's Harbour later in the week.
I had forgotten how hilly the south-west part of the Island was, and I enjoyed the scenery while the boys slept in the car, tired out from their first full day of camp.
The lovely thing about PEI is that everything is pretty close, so within about 40 minutes, we had arrived in the general vicinity of the treehouse, and as the boys woke up from their powernap, I tried to divine the somewhat sketchy directions included with my reservation.
We soon found the property, and sure enough, there was the treehouse!!
A Japanese exchange student staying in the main house checked us in and showed us the 2-piece washroom we could use, and then we climbed up the ladder to our room for the night.
The boys eagerly set about arranging the room: Organizing sleeping bags, pillows (including the new giant one we had acquired earlier in town) and various personal belongings they had brought with them for the night on the hooks and little "shelves" that lined the inside of our rustic hut amongst the trees.
We also had a little kitten climb the ladder and visit us. (After some petting, she just curled up outside the cabin door.)
Once out stuff was arranged in the tiny room to everyone's satisfaction, we drove 4 minutes to the nearby fishing village of Victoria, and enjoyed a great dinner (even vegetarian protein available!!) and excellent service at the Landmark Cafe, following which we picked up some ice cream on the wharf and sauntered around the lighthouse and antique market, taking silly selfies and admiring the imposing clouds in the evening sky.
We also saw PEI's oldest tree ("That's nothing compared to the trees we saw in Buenos Aires, right Mom?", Alex was quick to point out).
And then it was back to the treehouse.
We read a few chapters of our current read-aloud together (Deborah Ellis' Sacred Leaf), and then attempted to sleep.
I will say that the mattress itself (a reasonably roomy, high quality, inflatable affair) was considerably more comfortable than I had anticipated. It was my two restless bedmates who were the problem. Every time they moved, the mattress squeaked.
And also I had to pee. And I was not going to haul my corpulant, over-40 self down a rickety old ladder at 11:57 p.m. And 2 a.m. And again at 4:38 a.m. No way, no how. (Fortunately, I had anticipated that particular problem, and had done some advance planning accordingly, the details of which I will spare the reader.)
And there were mosquitos. (Not a lot, but enough bother a finicky sleeper.)
I debated whether or not to fish around in the catch-all bin we had brought with us for some mosquito repellent, and opted for some ear plugs instead, pulling the sleeping bag up over my head.
In between tossing and turning, I surfed Kijiji for deals and posted random photos with uninspired hashtags on Instagram.
Finally, blessedly, the morning arrived, another beautiful sunshiny day o PEI, and I roused the two sleeping bunnies to pack up their gear and get back in the car for the ride back into town for Day Two of Art camp. But not before using the real washroom, in the main house!!!
The ride back to Ch'town was uneventful; we enjoyed watching the pastoral scenery out the window while munching on cut-up peaches and strawberries and little boxes of dry cereal I had prepared ahead of time as a sort of en-route breakfast.
I wouldn't do it again, I don't think, and I am desperately looking forward to my real bed tonight. But my one night in a treehouse was worth it: A fun and affordable mini-adventure for all!!
You know you need to work on work-life balance when your personal blog that's supposed to be a fun, regular hobby has sat idle over over a week, and your IN box is overflowing with more than 600 emails -- ugh!! Ahhh, but summer, and PEI. Time.... time to relax, time to catch up, time to daydream...
From the first glimpses of the red, green and golden beauty from the sky, I could feel my muscles relax and my blood pressure lowering!
This beneficial effect was quickly enhanced by land therapy via open fields, children playing, our beautiful old lighthouse and the stunning colours of yet another unique sunset, all of which I availed myself as soon as possible after landing.
Indeed, whether it's watching my not-so-little-anymore kids running in the open field behind our house, and commenting on how tall the trees are growing ("Mom, I remember when they were this small!", remarked Simon, amazed), or catching a glimpse of no fewer than 4 red foxes on the way to the drive-in theatre, or enjoying an instagram-worthy brunch at a neighbour's house, spending time on PEI is time well spent.
And then there are the adventures, like spending a night in a tree house in Crapaud, or "biking" through the washed-out road down by the Harbour to the farmers' market in Morell...
The serendipitous connections that the island seems to foster are also fun: Two weeks ago I spent a few days in Fonthill, Ontario, facilitating an assessment workshop for teachers there. This week the B and B owners I stayed with flew into Cable Head and delivered my nightshirt, which I had accidentally left behind -- turns out they are both pilots, and, stumbling across the website I designed for the airpark owner a few years back, decided to fly down and check the place out!!
We enjoyed a (veggie for me) burger together at the BBQ on site later that afternoon, and joked about the excellent service provided by the BnB pyjama deliverers!
My "Office" in Town
But it's not ALL play and no work; one of my favourite weeks on PEI is the week the boys go to Art Camp at the Confederation Centre in downtown Charlottetown. (TB to 2013 here!)
In addition to being super fun for Alex and Simon, the week also affords me the opportunity to spend several undisturbed hours at Beanz, a pretty great little coffee shop (with the most amazing and delectable assortment of homemade squares!!!) a hop, skip and a jump from the Arts Ctr.
And hey, speaking of Beanz, check out the swank new outdoor seating in the pics below -- Beanz patio got a facelift!
Installed in my mobile office along with a tasty double fudge cream, choco-- oops, er, I mean, a nice, healthy salad, I spend my precious wifi-accessible hours doing some professional reading, taking online courses (Jo Boaler, here we finally come!!), or catching up with emails. (The backlog and overflow has gotten so rediculous that I recieved a notification from my provider the other day that they were going to stop sending new mails if I didn't get things under control soon!!!)
When not slaving away at my laptop, I stroll the streets of Charlottetown, enjoying this year a new sense of inclusion in the capital city of this once fairly homophobic province while running my errands or just sauntering around this picturesque Birthplace of Confederation.
Now it seems "we love you LGBTQ folks" rainbows are everywhere. Amazing what an openly gay leader can do for place's climate of inclusivity!
At 3:56 p.m., I pack it up and hustle off to pick up my babies, and then it's off to the beach, or the lighthouse, or tonight, a treehouse on the Island's south shore!!
The days pass quickly while drifting slowly along -- I feel very blessed to have this place to come to at regular intervals throughout the year.
With great anticipation I awaited liftoff from Pearson; although my time on the island this May would be extremely short (2 nights), I was looking forward to breathing in the tranquillity that I knew was awaiting me there... this little taste would tide me over until I return in August for my usual month-long stint.
A female FO on the West jet flight and a host of fluffy clouds viewable from my window seat promised good things to come...
A first sight of the island less than two hours later did not disappoint; into view came the much anticipated red soil and patchwork of carefully sectioned-off farmers' fields so charmingly ubiquitous on PEI.
The barely-audible-yet-distinct little sighs of passengers around me confirmed that I was not the only one on board completely smitten with the view.
Sighs turned to delighted chuckles when our pilots informed us over the aircrafts loudspeaker that it was a balmy 26° locally!
Not long afterwards, we landed in Ch'town, where the vast majority of those disembarking were greeted by some friendly islander with whom they were lucky enough to be connected. Among them was Brian, "our" islander, a neighbour and friend. Soon we were installed in his car and rolling along hwy 2 towards our little corner of the island.
At my insistance, the first stop was the lighthouse beach not far from our home -- I wanted to check the old structure was still standing (it was), and that the ocean was still where we left it (it, too, was just fine, though terribly cold, as I discovered when sticking my toe in!)
No matter, what we lost in swim time, we made up for in magnificent beach views and pre-sunset photos...
Upon our arrival at the house, I found my first task awaiting me: The good people from the census department had been by a few times, it seemed; several "friendly reminders" to complete said document had been stuck in the door, the first two having been removed by our friend and the cleaner before him.
I had already done my legal duty and filed one such in Ontario, so punching in the I.d. number and explaining that this was a seasonal property only was a fairly brief intrusion on my short holiday in Paradise.
The next morning before breakfast, it was off to our local beach!
There we discovered that the usual beach access had been blocked off due to the fact that the fellow who owned the vacant lot there had finally decided to come home to roost. This was evidenced by the in-progress foundation and the mock-up that was miraculously on display despite somewhat windy conditions. And by the porta-potty blocking the path to the beach!
After we found our way to the ocean via an alternate access, we walked for some time along the water, and I took the opportunity to try out the panoramic photo feature on my phone's camera!
After our beach walk, I enjoyed a nice nap in the hammock, following which I set up my drums in the music cabin and warmed up my rusty chops!
A quick walk in the back field after my drumming session revealed the trees were still standing, the purple lupin were coming in nicely, and a few critters had set up their homes out back!
My girlfriend, meanwhile, texted a photo of Sneakers; back home in Toronto, she (the dog) had just successfully graduated from Part Two of her dog training course: The biting wildebeest could now successfully be told to "go to your pillow", and generally stayed there for up to 2 minutes -- especially if treats were involved!!!
For us weekend islanders, though, it was time to head next door and attend to the reason for the season: the annual community lobster dinner!
As has been our custom for some years now, a group of summer islanders and year-rounders gathers to enjoy the first lobster of the season (and numerous salads, deserts, baked goods and beverages) together and welcome spring back to the island.
The atmosphere was thick with excitement; most of us had not seen one another since new year's, and many not since last summer -- everyone was eager to catch up on local news and of course to eat, drink and partake of general merriment.
Approximately 40 people gathered to enjoy the warm spring evening, some of us even eating together in the screened in porch!
Another opportunity for a panoramic image also presented itself in the twilight sky that is one of the single most impressive views on the island... yesterday's golden sunset had been replaced by a magnificent canvas of magenta, rose and indigo hues.
I paused to admire it for a moment before returning to the jovial conversations inside.
The next morning, we took a different route to the waterfront, again enjoying the fresh morning air on the island.
The same harbour offers an unlimited assortment of vantage points, each one featuring its own unique brand of awe and wonder. Still, silent sometimes, the rural parts of the island provide almost constant inspiration for personal reflection. To be here is to engage with one's innermost thoughts, hopes, dreams, fears... one is constantly musing, about life, about human relationships, or about oneself.
All too soon, it was time to go.
After a quick lunch and a handing-off of leftover groceries to the neighbours (during which brief interlude we witnessed a low-flying eagle being chased out of the area by two angry and possessive crows, and a bushy-tailed red fox on the prowl for the same mouse or rabbit that the eagle had probably been hunting), we packed ourselves into Brian's car for the drive back into town.
We were not headed directly to the airport as we had to make a VERY important stop in Charlottetown, first! ;-P
Important and much sought-after provisions having been procured, it was finally time to leave the island for real; we ate a simple supper at the airport restaurant before heading through security and into the waiting area to take our seats along equally unenthusiastic island-leavers, and waited dully for our boarding call.
PEI departure shots from the aircraft are too sad; also I did not have a window seat on the way home, unfortunately. So I did not take any pics out the window.
Let us leave the weekend memories at red foxes, beach walks, musical reunifications and nice chats with island neighbours and friends. A refreshing weekend promise of the summer to come, and a much-needed infusion of rest and relaxation to get me through the final six hectic weeks of school!
Click the image below to hear/view a screencast I made about this collaborative response my class created after our recent field trip to Toronto. (Please, be gentle, I am new to screencasting, and am still learning!!)
We used Padlet to capture our collective work.
After writing for several teacher and multiple birth publications, including ETFO's Voice Magazine, Multiple Moments, and the Bulletwin, Vera turned her written attention to prolific blogging for some years, including BiB, "Learn to Fly with Vera!" and SMARTbansho . Homeschooling 4 was her travel blog in Argentina. She now spends more time on her Instagram (@schalgzeug_usw) than her blog (pictures are worth a thousand words?!) Contact Vera by clicking the photo above.
The views expressed on this blog are the views of the author, and do not necessarily represent the perspectives of her family members or the position of her employer on the the issues she blogs about. These posts are intended to share resources, document family life, and encourage critical thought on a variety of subjects. They are not intended to cause harm to any individual or member of any group. By reading this blog and viewing this site, you agree to not hold Vera liable for any harm done by views expressed in this blog.