The Cove Journal by JoDee Samuelson

Redpolls by Mari Basiletti
Redpolls by Mari Basiletti

It was one of those hushed grey mornings with nature in a state of reverie. Down at the Cove the sea was gently breathing, its vast surface softly rising and falling… when out of the blue a wave splashed on shore, followed by another wave, then another. Had a wind come up? Not a bit. Then we spotted a ship far out to sea, perhaps a Coast Guard vessel, creeping imperceptibly along the horizon, and realized that these waves must be the ship’s wake hitting the shore. 

A ship’s wake travels around 8 km/hour (twice as fast as normal walking speed), so if the ship was in the middle of the Strait (7 km away) those waves had been traveling for almost an hour! Not that it particularly matters, but it’s interesting to realize that every wave has a story, starts somewhere, needs a push to get going. And of course we all make waves every time we move…

Normally we wouldn’t be watching open water this time of year, but it’s been a warm winter and the ice along the shore comes and goes. Some days it’s treacherous to clamber over the rocks, but the next day the ice has melted and it feels almost like spring. I’m writing this in the middle of January so I realize that anything can happen: huge dumps of snow might be right around the corner. Remember the winter of 2015 when storms in January, February and March dumped 497 cm [200 inches] of snow on the Island? 

We do miss the snow, its blue shadows, its imaginative drifts, its magical transforming qualities. A cosy blanket of snow tells the crocus, tulip and garlic bulbs that they can relax, take their time, let their roots get comfortable. A few days ago we noticed garlic shoots pushing their way through their seaweed mulch, and promptly raked up more leaves and branches to pile on top of this important crop.

The bare ground and empty bushes must affect wildlife. A flock of Bohemian waxwings recently sailed into the yard and milled around looking—or so we suspected—for mountain ash berries; disappointed, these beautiful creatures flew on without a backward glance. Normally our mountain ash trees are laden with crimson fruits, but September’s hurricane stripped them of every single berry. Rosehips, spruce buds and mushy apples are available, but birds have their favourite foods just like we do.

In the Cove there are blue jays and chickadees, juncos, hairy woodpeckers, mourning doves, crows, starlings and an occasional goldfinch. Down by the shore a startled spruce grouse goes a-whirring noisily into the undergrowth, and two mallard ducks paddle contentedly in the black brook. 

But wild creatures seem scarce this year. So we’re thrilled when a congregation of redpolls takes its evening chat in our honeysuckle bush. These sociable little birds feed on birch, alder and spruce seeds (we have all of these). They don’t mind cold weather, and can sleep in burrows under the snow. But there’s no snow so… oh dear, our redpolls didn’t stay long. Away they go in perfect unison, their wings making tiny waves.

Born and raised on the Canadian prairies, filmmaker and artist JoDee Samuelson has lived on the beautiful south shore of Prince Edward Island for the past thirty years.JoDee always loved drawing and was encouraged in all her creative pursuits by her mother, who was a commercial artist before marrying a Swedish minister. JoDee’s interest in filmmaking began when she took part in an animation workshop at the Island Media Arts Co-op in 1989. Her animated films have been shown at festivals around the world, winning numerous awards for the Island filmmaker.