The Smell of the Sea

Join me as I remember Prince Edward Island, Canada, where I left a piece of my heart:

As the rental car drove from the airport across a dark island, the sunrise seeped a slow beacon of light into the landscape, illuminating a veritable fairyland. Mile after mile of tall pink and purple spires misted the roadsides. This first magical glimpse of the island encapsulated my whole stay. At every turn, nature’s pulse–in the pure prime of spring, wildly abloom and bursting with the freshness of new–quickened my own.

In late June, wild lupines blanket the island

At last, we pulled into our destination, a rental cottage on a fifth generation dairy farm in Cavendish. Directly behind the cottage, silvery birch groves and dark stands of spruce skirted rolling hills of lush glorious green where tranquil cows grazed. Above the mellow moos of the cows, sea waves crashed.

Imagine the ice cream these contented cows make

In front of our cottage, across the road, a two-story, well-kept, white farmhouse with green shutters and a green roof and sprawling white milking barns nestled into a panoramic view of the sea. This picturesque setting was where the owners lived. Twice a day, they rounded up the cows from the pasture behind our cottage and paraded them across the busy road to be milked.

Each morning, at the early (4 a.m.) clang of the gate, which the farmer opened to allow the cows to cross the road, my youngest son and I bolted from our beds and raced to the barn to watch the milking. Complete with a playful puppy, kissing calves, and a litter of brave kittens, each moment in the barn promised a new and exciting adventure. A mixture of pleasing smells permeated the air, the enticing aroma of hot coffee, the sweet scent of straw, and the salty scent of the sea.

While the cows ate, the farmers attached an electronic milker, which sent the milk through a series of pipes into a large vat in a chilled room. Buckets of warm milk were given to the hungry calves and a saucerful to the momma cat, who strolled past the huge hind legs at a much safer distance than her kittens.

 

Mr. Alvin MacNeill of Parkview Farm

 

 

While talking with the quiet, yet eager to share, farmer, who was born here, grew up here, and never left here, I asked, “What’s it like to work on a farm by the sea?”

He gave me a sheepish smile. “I’ve never worked a day in my life.”

Success at its finest! And I could tell by the twinkle in his eye, it was true.

How lucky I was to stay in a setting with a heartbeat such as this.

Thrilled, I settled into my celestial experience for a way-too-short week.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Under a pearly pale sky, I climbed the craggy red rocks clinging the seashore and explored the tide pools teeming with sea stars and moon snails and shellfish.

On a bike the color of luscious lemon ice cream, I rode along a trail fringed with wildflowers that stretched for miles beside an island inlet. For all of you Anne of Green Gables fans, while pedaling over a bridge, I nearly catapulted into the sea when I spotted a Gilbert Blythe look-alike in an old wooden rowboat fishing below me. I searched the pilings for dear drenched Anne but, alas, only saw her in my imagination.

I visited historic lighthouses and, of course, a multitude of Anne exhibits.

One afternoon at low tide, I went on a kayak excursion with my family to dig clams. Under an infinitely blue sky, we paddled to a shimmery sandbar, then raced along the sea bottom searching for telltale dimplings of clams hiding in the sand. Once spotted, we plunged our rakes deep, amidst excited squeals, “I found one!” “Over here!” “Look at this!”

When the tide trickled in, we returned to our kayaks and paddled the half-hour trip back to shore where our guide, a crusty, retired lobsterman, used our catch to make a spicy clam chowder.

“Best on the island!” he bragged, passing out steaming paper cupfuls.

But my most memorable experience occurred in the acres of gardens surrounding a restaurant, the Prince Edward Island Preserve Company.

After a delicious meal, my family and I walked the trails along the edge of a pond.

When I slowed to admire and photograph the spectacular array of flowers, my family disappeared ahead.

At a fork in the trail, I chose a quiet path that led into an ancient stand of spruce, shadowy and still. As I strolled along, each spongy footstep treading on decades of dropped needles, gnarly limbs surrounded me in a secret shrine. At the top of a hill around a bend, I found this:

Poem reads: All of my ambitions, hopes, and plans, I surrender these into Your hands. For it’s only in Your will that I am free. Jesus, all for Jesus, all that I am and have and ever hope to be.

As I stood in solitude before the life-sized hands of Jesus, a little bird twittered a trill, and then, miraculously, out of nowhere, a string quartet (not recorded, this was live!) swelled into a soft, serene harmony. My mouth dropped. Where was the angelic music coming from? I looked around but saw no-one. Was it a gift, heaven sent? While standing beneath the fragrant firs before this touching testament of love, being serenaded by sensuous strings, my vision pooled with unshed tears as I thanked God for the beautiful memories and whispered, “If I die, I’ve lived.”

Later, I learned a string quartet was rehearsing for a wedding on a secluded balcony overlooking the pond. Even so, to this day I remain convinced the timing was not of mortal origin.

Thank you for sharing in my memories of Prince Edward Island. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I!

No peacocks here, but I did find this dragon on the beach.

Though I appreciate each and every comment, please understand, in order to maintain balance in my life, I do not respond to comments. Thank you for your visit.

All photos and words property of Peacock Prairie.

Latest Comments

  1. Beverly Hilton ( Rachel ) says:

    Most beautiful story. I can feel the peace in your words

    Like

  2. cindy knoke says:

    I can smell every bit of it.

    Like

  3. Cathy Ogren says:

    Absolutely gorgeous pictures! So peaceful!

    Like

  4. Jeffrey says:

    I really like the cats, cows, and dog.

    Like

  5. Laurie Sarkipato says:

    You combo of camera and narrative is plain magical!

    Like

  6. Lisa Teeter says:

    Happy May Day Julie!!

    You are such an incredible writer!!!  Please don’t stop!!!

    Like

  7. Julie@frogpondfarm says:

    And thank you for a wonderful post that I so enjoyed! Beautiful images my friend and superb memories ❤️

    Like

  8. Leslie Leibhardt Goodman - Writer says:

    Hi, Julia, Because your blog is so beautiful and deserves recognition, I have nominated your blog for the Liebster Award. https://leslieleibhardtgoodman.wordpress.com/2020/05/15/liebster-award/

    Like

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