Martha’s calendar

The Cove Journal | by JoDee Samuelson

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Every summer when family visits the Island, daughter-in-law Stephanie brings along the most recent copy of Martha Stewart Living and spends hours lying on a beach towel in a sun-induced trance, studying every page and occasionally calling out highlights from Martha’s calendar: “Martha’s making strawberry jam. Do we have any strawberries?” Or, “Martha’s horseback riding today.” Or, “She’s harvesting the garlic.” This year we probably did harvest garlic about the same time as Martha, which was, for us, two weeks earlier than usual. 

The heat has pushed everything ahead as the Island sizzles under an unrelenting sun. Our squash huddles limp and wan all day, but fortunately perks up in the evening, especially after a bucket of dishwater is carefully poured on the mound. Yes, we’re saving dishwater: we keep a basin in the sink and hoard every drop. We need a good rain to replenish our rain barrel—a good long rain, a real soaker.

No complaints about beach weather this year. You know how when you’re swimming along you sometimes hit those cold spots from underground springs? Well, even those spots are warm. Late one afternoon, eyes closed, I was floating blissfully along when I became entangled in a cluster of foam and tangled eelgrass: it actually felt steamy!

Speaking of eelgrass, my son sent me an article on the BBC website titled “Denmark’s 300-year-old homes of the future.” On the island of Læsø many old houses have roofs thatched with bundles of eelgrass, and enterprising craftspeople are trying to turn eelgrass into other building materials. Eelgrass is fire resistant and it decomposes reluctantly. Not so long ago, Prince Edward Islanders used eelgrass for insulating and banking their houses. Maybe it’s time to send a mission to Denmark and see what’s happening over there.

I don’t know how wildlife likes this temperature, but our seabirds seem reasonably content. The other morning at low tide my friends and I walked across the Cove and on a sandbar in the distance we spied a large gray lump: a piece of clothing? a dead creature? It turned out to be a sleeping herring gull. Of course gulls must sleep sometime but I’d never actually seen one all by itself, head tucked under its wing, dozing away in the sunshine. Our interruption caused it to rise sleepily to its feet and actually yawn before it sank down again and tried to get its thoughts together. It was gone by the time we walked to the other side and back. Well, it wasn’t gone. It was fishing, along with a flock of Bonaparte gulls, plus numerous “common” gulls (I don’t know how they like to be called “common.”)

So this season has rolled along for humans and birds alike. Of course we’ve missed our much-loved visitors and our annual Martha Stewart update, but it’s been an amazing summer with plenty of adventures and happy times, and I don’t think Martha could improve on anything.

Jodee SamuelsonThe Cove Journal
JoDee Samuelson

Born and raised in the Canadian prairies, JoDee now lives in “the Cove” on the Island’s beautiful South Shore. She was a maker of animated films for most of her working life, and presently putters at less demanding artistic ventures like carving owls, painting Island scenes on small woodblocks, and playing ukelele.