We have just returned from one of my favourite places – Prince Edward Island, Canada. PEI is located in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and separated from mainland Canada’s Nova Scotia and New Brunswick provinces by the Northumberland Strait.
Our rental cottage was situated on the Hillsborough River, where we overlooked the harbour of Charlottetown. To say the least, the views were spectacular and ever-changing from day to day. Any cottage on the water is always my safe place – the place where I feel I am home. Rental makes no difference to me…I am home.
Water is restorative. It calms me and nourishes me. I am drawn to water and often declare that I was born to live on the water which always makes my husband jokingly retort, “You do. We live in a city that is located on a river and a lake. What more do you want?” He knows that what I mean is to live on the water with a deck or a screened porch or sun room facing the water, windows (of course) with panoramic views – that is my true intent. But his point is taken as water is water and I am grateful for what I do have.
At our rental cottage we enjoyed the serenity and calm that only such a vacation spot can give.
We were graced each morning and early evening with a Great Blue Heron who only visited us when the tide was out. There, amongst the blue mussel shells and clam shells and strewn remains of kelp, she would land on the shore and stay for hours, always still. Her slight movements were measured and few. She would lift her legs slowly, so gracefully, and allow each to hover in the air before she placed it down. It was a show of elegance each and every time.
On most days, at any time of the day, any kind of inclement weather, we would sight double-crested cormorants – their constant diving for fish true entertainment value. A black bird with a yellow/orange patch at the base of its bill, we could easily spot them with our binoculars.
On another occasion we were lucky enough to spy seals (harbour seals) swimming by our cottage…a whole family of them. How effortlessly they swam; no, glided by us. So close to the shore of the river that we didn’t even need binoculars to sight them. Bliss, yes? Yes!
And yet in spite of all the daily bird sightings, one of our most memorable visitors was a family of four red foxes who apparently seem to roam freely in Prince Edward Island, and especially in the area where we were located.
Our assumption that foxes were nocturnal was incorrect! They visited the lawn in front of our cottage (we watched them from the sun room, literally three to five feet away) numerous times throughout the day. Sometimes they would gambol and frolic on the grass as if putting on an afternoon matinee. (Okay, let’s be honest. How often have we wanted to use the word gambol and never had the opportunity?) And although we were fascinated by the family, we were also a little unnerved of their constant presence. (They might be fascinating, but they are also wild.)
The fox family or group is called a skulk; the male, a dog; the female, a vixen; the young, pups. A fellow cottager, a permanent resident, informed us or warned us not to feed them (no, thanks!) as some summer visitors do throw them scraps, and she feared that only emboldened them, not to mention spoiled them of their natural hunting instincts. On a couple of occasions, we did notice the father fox (the dog) prance by the cottage with a couple of hotdog wieners in his mouth; another time, a shoe.
But after a few days of entertainment, the show ended. They disappeared. Perhaps they were aware of the week-end approaching – an influx of more people.
Our vacations are often remembered by such moments. We don’t give a second thought to the flight, or the car drive, or the hotel room…unless such a moment occurs. Red foxes in PEI; a fishing history museum in Twillingate, Newfoundland; puffins in Nova Scotia; sheep bells resonating on a hillside in Portugal; the early morning fog rolling out on the Costa Del Sol in Spain; the beautiful, intricate scrolls and filigree in wrought iron gates in Savannah and Charleston – oh, the small details that, for me, are indelibly etched forever in my memory bank. Nature is a prevalent theme in my memory photo book, but creativity, art, and the kindness of people are recurring images, too.
I am drawn to creativity (because it is the best of people) – the beautiful works of wrought iron of Philip Simmons in South Carolina; a ceiling in a tiny church or a cathedral that knocks your socks off; a row of red Adirondacks that flank a cobalt blue sea – that’s a photo album that I cherish internally.
A perfect V of Canadian geese flying overhead and I am instantly remembering a kite’s ribbons, undulating in the sky – an image from last year’s vacation.
It’s these small, but significant, details that inspire me and push me to travel more. No, not travel more – take more notice and be mindful (wherever I am).
The older I get, the more I turn inward to assess and review my authenticity. Who am I? Why am I here? What is it I am meant to do? Questions that Deepak Chopra urges us to reflect on when we meditate.
And every year that passes, my contemplation or reflections become more and more simpler.
I am. I am meant to love and be loved.
I am here to just enjoy the moment. All of the small details matter.
I am connected to all. If I am connected to all, then I strive not to judge others. And I am meant to be kind and compassionate. That is love.
I am here to see the beauty – in everything. And if I love and am loved…then I love myself, too.
I matter. You matter.
Just as we are. We do not have to do anything else – just be. And love ourselves.
The more we love ourselves, the more we can (and do) love others.
It’s really pretty simple. We are gifts.
Red foxes remind me of all that.