Sometimes there doesn't seem to be a lot to talk about here on the river. Like much of PEI, at this time of year, everything seems to close up and go home, including the heron. People of the island say that after "old home week" (which is the long weekend in September) the island, from Tignish to East Point, slowly closes like those clams you have been digging for all summer. The bridge escorts the tourists off the island, providing them with a 12km, two-lane, engineering miracle across the Northumberland Straight. This enables the well worn traveller the opportunity to reflect on this tiny Canadian province that they have been able to travel and experience in their seven day reprieve from their reality. There is no doubt that somewhere on that bridge is the warp...black hole..altered dimension (whatever you want to call it), that one drives through coming and going. I think that I figured it out about half-way in our crossing when we left PEI the first time. I knew we would be back and I felt elated, rather than sad. She had hooked both of us with her red sand beaches, oysters by the plenty, azure and blush sunrises and her breezes that caressed my temperate steel-city skin. The seventeen-hour drive home afforded Mike and I the opportunity to explore the possibility of retiring to, what I thought of, as "Canada's best-kept secret." I have been thinking that perhaps it is time to give up some of this island's treasures - what brings someone to this little spec of Canada?
Picture - Northumberland Provincial Park 2020, some random kid :)
Now, I know that a lot of people are not happy with snow, but I have to say, here on PEI it is just part of the lifestyle. I am going to say that the snow situation is somewhat of an urban myth. Most people visiting from outside of the Atlantic provinces seem to think that we have miles and piles of snow. Well, there have been some years...like 2015...just before we moved to PEI. It socked everyone in, to the point that you could not see the island from the satelite map - like the wee island didn't exist. And of course, poor old Newfoundland is always in the news...50...60 ...70(!) centimetres last year. People couldn't get out of their doorways let alone meander up their streets. Last year would have been a good year for COVID in Newfoundland - no one was going anywhere anyways.
Well, here in North Enmore, we had a "green" Christmas. New Years was the same (Happy New Years by the way). So finally, yesterday the red banner was on my weather network... "special weather alert for Enmore...10 to 15 centimetres of snow to fall between noon and midnight." I gotta say, this old girl gave a whoop! and threw another log on the fire! Mike and I had to make our way to the Ellerslie Rite Stop (there is another blog there!). to pick up milk, eggs, marine paint and dryer venting. (kidding on the last two, but you can get that there!). It is a short trip, about 7km, however the snow started falling pretty heavy and the wind was giving the snow a pelting sensation on the windshield. We landed home with supplies for the night - milk and storm chips. Yes, they are potato chips - islanders love their potato - in all forms- but there ain't no content household without the storm chips during a blizzard. In fact, during the storm of 2015, a potato chip company cornered the market on "storm chips." You can buy your own bag (containing the favs; ketchup, barbeque and regular) at any store now. Slap down your $3.99 and you got it "in the bag." Island Life. Gotta Love it.
So, today Mike has spent his retirement time outside on the John Deere, creating a path to the roadway, making a mini parking-lot and apparently taking a "rip" (as they call it) on our vintage snow "sled." (when did they stop calling them "ski-doos?") At last, FINALLY, something to play in!
I have never been much of a gambling gal. Never been to Vegas. Never bought myself a scratch card in hopes of winning the million(s). I think I find myself too much of a "realist" to know that the odds are stacked against me for winning and I would rather spend my $10 on ice cream :) . But here on PEI, "winning it big" is an underlying theme to being an islander. "Chase the Ace" is in every small community on the island - you will see the signs as you drive through Summerside, Miscouche, and Richmond. Sometimes the prizes are in the tens of thousands! It's not a car accident at the side of the road-it's the fire truck with lights rotating like a weather vane on a windy PEI day - selling tickets for "Chase the Ace" at Day's Corner, next to Randy's Pizza (and no, there is not a "Randy"). When you purchase a ticket for "Chase the Ace," you are actually hoping to win the opportunity to choose a card (from what remains from the deck of 52 cards) in hopes of drawing the Ace. Each week the prize expands as islanders work themselves into a frenzy of excitement - thinking about what they will purchase with the big prize if they should win...pizza at Randy's...a new four-wheeler...a new watercraft...a parcel of land "up west"... the list goes on and on. So it should not be a surprise to anyone (particularly an "Ontarioite") that BINGO is also a community event on this beautiful island. Every legion (which I think they have more of on this island per capita than they do grocery stores) has their BINGO night. With COVID, of course, the BINGO nights have either been cancelled or certainly re-jigged to fall in line with Dr. Morrison's expectations. Then there is radio BINGO.
I was asked to participate in Radio BINGO by my friend Mary, who was having a total number of 6 of us (in compliance with Dr. Morrison) at her home. The BINGO "cards," which are actually newsprint sheets of BINGO cards, are purchased from just about any grocery or convenience store (who knew?) on this little island for $8 for 5 sheets. Mary has a plethora of BINGO dabbers and food. There was no need to extend myself beyond the eight bucks. I was in. The evening began with a glass of home-made red win, a handful of "Toffifays" and the other hand dabbing the centre of the card (like the other ladies..I had no idea what to do besides consume wine and chocolate as I have done that before). Mary had her phone at the ready for the radio station as we prepped for the 7:00pm start of the game. Our anticipation (or mine did) grew with each country croon we listened to before the "ball drop" started. Like tittering schoolgirls, the group of 50plus women clung to the radio (phone) like families did in the 30's, waiting for their favourite radio shows.
The radio (phone) breaks out with the sound of what seems to be popping corn. I, however, know that is is actually the sound of the BINGO balls flying around in their cylinder, waiting to be launched. I have to admit, with my first dab, I was hooked by the anticipation. All of us around Mary's kitchen table suddenly became razor-edge focused on the task at hand - DABBING. I could not imagine a BINGO hall filled with this kind of energy - it would be electric! It could be life-threatening!
In my ignorance, I suggested that Radio BINGO was a great idea for our COVID plan...only to find out that Radio BINGO has been going on for years. Who knew?
This little island never ceases to amaze me.
Just another reason "Why I love PEI."
There is something about the in between of Christmas and New Years. One may become quite reflective. No doubt, 2020 is a year that I will be glad to have in the rear view mirror. I am hoping that we can do some relaxing on the river this year, since 2020 was busy with the construction of the Riverview Loft. But it is now complete and we are welcoming guests who are self-isolating for 14 days here on the island.
I have been retired for approximately 5 years, relocating to PEI from Ontario. Creating a recreational living unit was something Mike and I wanted to do since we purchased the house.