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Archive for the ‘Seasons’ Category

Clyde River history committee member Joanne Turner recommended to us that we view this series that she had enjoyed, Tales from the Green Valley, on YouTube. I had a chance to view it over the past week and thoroughly enjoyed it. Did you ever want to know what it would be like to live in 1620? Here’s your chance. Five history scholars agreed to live for one year on a farm in a valley near the Wales border. Did they work hard? Yes, it mentions that they burned over 4000 calories a day – equivalent to a high-performing athlete of today. Nothing, and I mean nothing, was wasted. A thatched roof takes a lot of material, patience and skill. Some of their chores would still be similar to those in the 1800s when our ancestors moved to Prince Edward Island e.g. clearing the land, churning butter and making soap. Click on the screen below to link to the YouTube series and enjoy. Please feel free to share your comments and insights below after viewing the series.

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Spring clean up of Murchison Place Park will take place tomorrow – Saturday, May 13th, 9:00 a.m. until noon. Take along a rake, work gloves and any other useful garden equipment e.g. wheelbarrow. Refreshments will be served.

It’s a great time to catch up and clean up.

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img_5223“We don’t really have much of a winter before January.” Newcomers from other provinces and countries say we told them this when they moved here. As they confront us this week, we look a little sheepish and our lips are pursed ever so slightly.

What they don’t know is we Islanders can be in some amount of denial about the weather ourselves, like it’s actually part of our identity. We brag about the sunny days and downplay the squalls. We even deflect the discussion to storms occurring in other places. “Yes, but did you see the weather they are having in Vancouver?”

We only really discuss it truthfully among ourselves. In fact, we don’t even have to discuss it. It’s communal knowledge that can be conveyed with a glance. It’s almost part of our DNA.

Those new to PEI can find our weather confusing and will not fully understand the ocean effect. Islanders have a more innate sense of predicting weather and will adjust our behaviour as easily as the local wildlife, squirreling away food and water and hunkering down, hoping the power doesn’t go out with yet another gust of wind. Rural folks with farms are operating in full gear protecting their herds and flocks. The survivalist instinct kicks in, no explanation necessary.

However, we will say to those from away, “Yes, it’s bad, but this is an unusual year, maybe the worst since the 1970s.” It’s our way of putting them off, knowing we don’t have to come up with another excuse until next winter. And with any luck, there will be a bad winter in Texas.

Heck, maybe we aren’t that different from other Canadians or even those from the New England States and northern Midwest. And who knows, it could still be raining on Christmas Day.

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Drone over Clyde RiverOur ancestors would look at us strangely if we said there was a drone flying over Clyde River taking photos, but that is what is happening. Oswald tells me that Scott Stevens has been contracted by the Golf Association of PEI to take photos via drone of the 16-member golf courses in PEI. The benefit we get is to see Clyde River and neighbouring communities from a birds eye view in all their spectacular beauty. The golf course looks great, Oswald and team.

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IMG_2760.JPGI travelled out from the city to the Strawberry Social last evening hosted by the Clyde River Women’s Institute. They had a great crowd. As folks arrive, you get a little sticker with a number which is called when seats are available. Alex Dixon says he comes at the same time each year, and this year he had a higher number, deducing there were more overall. I had a chance to sit with J’Nan and Kirk Brown to catch up on their news. They are celebrating their wedding anniversary this summer and still smiling brightly. As usual, they are expecting summer visitors. Not surprising, they live in heaven down by the river.

Sandra Cameron hosted history enthusiasts in the Emily Bryant Room during the event and she had lots of visitors. There are so many things to see. Each treasure tells a story, rather, generations of stories. I recounted one story to some visitors about the small salt dish with a pink hue on the second shelf of the display case which could easily be overlooked. The dish was Lee Darrach’s, the Lee that fought in both WW1 and WW2. He was in the Halifax Infirmary during the time of the Halifax explosion. The explosion catapulted the salt dish onto his hospital bed. He saved it as a testament to having survived once again. He passed it on to his brother Hector which was then given to his grandson and he gave it us. It sits on the same shelf as Lee’s photo in uniform and the two Christmas cards and many letters he sent to his family during the war. These were donated to us from his other grand nephew in Florida. As part of the Capturing Memories project when we invited donations of artifacts, I stopped being surprised by synchronicity. These historical items were coming home along with their stories. This is a memory room, and when we linger by each humble piece, we can remember the people who came before.

J’Nan invited me to drop down to her farm to get a dozen blue eggs from her Ameraucana hens after the social. She and Sidney Poritz who owns the adjoining property debate which of them has the more beautiful land. I am happy to stand on her front yard looking across their fields to the rivers. It’s where the West River and Clyde River meet. Sidney lives on the homestead of my great grandparents. That is where Lee Darrach was raised. I have the letters his mother wrote to her boys between 1904-07 talking about daily life. This was all Darrach property at one time. J’Nan recalls Mrs. MacNeill who lived here before she and Kirk purchased the farm. Mrs. MacNeill told her “the view sustained me”.

As I drove out the long lane from J’Nan and Kirk’s, I was struck by the sunset over Dunedin. The synchronicity of this moment was not lost. I stopped, took a few shots and emailed my favourite to J’Nan with a subject line “Sunset in Heaven”.

Editor’s note: Earlier stories were written on the Brown’s (This Old Barn has some Stories to Tell) and Poritz (Darrach-Poritz Homestead) properties.

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Strawberries

Strawberry Social

The Clyde River Women’s Institute will host their annual Strawberry and Ice Cream Social on Wednesday, July 13th from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. at the Riverview Community Centre, 728 Clyde River Rd. Come meet your friends, neighbours and, of course, those home from away, and enjoy a dish of ice cream with strawberries and sweets. Take out not available.

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In Riverview Community Centre, the old schoolhouse in Clyde River, there are books tucked away in the library whose glory is now in the past. The odd assortment ranges from the early 1900s to the last days when students crossed the threshold to the little room and the big room before school consolidation in the early 1970s when they were then bused to Cornwall and Charlottetown. These were the times of modernized education which broke off from the earlier days when one’s small community and school contributed to the education of young men and women. In those humble school rooms, where families were not too many generations from Scotland and England, literature was considered an essential part of their early and oftentimes brief education. My mother, in the last years of her long life, could still recite poems she was required to memorize in her days at Clyde River School. They were poems that she would carry through life and, at each stage of her years, the rhythm and nuance of the lines would resonate a little more deeply. Maybe it’s time to dust off those old books and peak inside to gather a glimpse of their learning.

Our first book is a MacMillan Pocket Classic featuring Longfellow’s The Courtship of Miles Standish and Minor Poems. The introduction by Dr. Will David Howe, Professor of English at Butler College, introduces us to Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Henry was born in 1807 in Portland, Maine. His parents were Stephen and Zilpha (Wadsworth) Longfellow, descended from Yorkshire families who had emigrated in the later half of the seventeenth century. They named him after his uncle, a Navy Lieutenant who had died at the Battle of Tripoli three years earlier. His poetry was strongly influenced by the countryside where he grew up among beautiful views of the bay, mountains and forests. Music and reading were highly valued in their home.

Longfellow wrote a letter to his father to express his desire to pursue an education in literature of which his father was not pleased. He already knew French, but wanted to learn Italian so as to understand the language of literature. He attended Bowden College, a liberal arts college in Maine and later taught there. He travelled to Europe where he studied German, Dutch, Danish, Portuguese, Finnish and Icelandic languages. He secured a distinguished professorship of Modern Languages at Harvard. He became a full-time poet in 1853. His first wife died in childbirth in 1835, four years after they were married. He married his second wife in 1843 and they had six children, but she died tragically in 1961 when her dress caught fire despite Longfellow’s heroic attempts to save her. Longfellow never recovered from her death. He spent much of the following years translating foreign language works until his death in 1882.

Longfellow’s family history offers some familiar parallels to early settlers to North America. Children were often named after someone beloved who had an untimely death. Parents wanted desperately for their children to have a better life in a new land. He was highly influenced by the beautiful landscapes that surrounded his home, and there remained strong ties to his ancestral home. His sister died of Tuberculosis. Often wives died in childbirth, and tragedy happened leaving children without a mother and where a husband was forced to live out his days as best he could, tending to a large family.

Longfellow’s life’s desire was to promote modern literature to those beyond the highly educated elite in America. Within his lifetime, he became one of the most popular poets. For now, in the depths of February, with the hope of summer in our hearts, we will feature his poem, Woods in Winter. It was written in 1839 while he was renting accommodations at a house that was once the headquarters of George Washington, a home that he later owned and is now the Longfellow House in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Woods in Winter

When winter winds are piercing chill,
And through the hawthorn blows the gale,
With solemn feet I tread the hill,
That overgrows the lonely vale.

O’er the bare upland, and away
Through the long reach of desert woods,
The embracing sunbeams chastely play,
And gladden these deep solitudes.

Where, twisted round the barren oak,
The summer vine in beauty clung,
And summer winds the stillness broke,
The crystal icicle is hung.

Where, from their frozen urns, mute springs,
Pour out the river’s gradual tide,
Shrilly the skater’s iron rings,
And voices fill the woodland side.

Alas! how changed from the fair scene,
When birds sang out their mellow lay,
And winds were soft, and woods were green,
And the song ceased not with the day.

But still wild music is abroad,
Pale, desert woods! within the crowd;
And gathering winds, in hoarse accord,
Amid the vocal reeds pipe loud.

Chill airs and wintry winds! my ear
Has grown familiar with your song;
I hear it in the opening year,
I listen, and it cheers me long.

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