Friday, August 21, 2009

Cavendish Sands


Two summers ago Hilary and I enjoyed a trip to Prince Edward Island, the smallest of Canadian provinces and perhaps the quaintest. It had come about as a consequence of an inherited gift and we were long overdue for a holiday. All planning of the itinerary was left to my wife and she did a fabulous job. There was much excitement leading up to the flight as we had consumed the excellent travel literature available from this province.

Visions of sandy beaches, exceptional golf courses, lobster-fests, fiddle-fests, endless fields of potatoes and white wheat, Green Gables fairy-tale farm and acreage, Charlottetown centre of Confederation conferences, beautiful theatres, tiny red and white lighthouses and the nine-mile bridge recently joining the island to the mainland.

We were stunned to learn that the capital city had a population in the thirty-something thousands! But not a thing was missed in the mix - lush parks, excellent restaurants, maritime boutiques near the harbour, exquisite homes facing the interior bay, galleries, centre for performing arts.

From the city we went north to Brackley Beach adjacent to the breath-taking Park on the north shore. Our little cabin accommodation came complete with auto access to the Park. I was surprised to have Hilary wake me at 4:30 A.M. with the plan of going to the east end of the beach for sun-rise. Great idea! We watched the scurrying swarms of piping plovers at the surf. These are a species peculiar to the area. After sun-up we passed a marshy inlet with no less than sixteen Great Blue Herons fishing. No wonder the drive was named the Blue Heron Route.

The next day after a satisfying "Mom and Pop Shop" breakfast complete with neighbouring horse stables, we headed for the home of Anne of Green Gables, Canadian heroine penned by Lucy Maud Montgomery and known world-wide. This was near Cavendish. The interpretive museum in the farm did the typically excellent film representation one has come to expect from the National Film Board of Canada, handling story, place, persona and time-setting with equal success. (We also were impressed with the films at The Citadel Fortress in Halifax Harbour.)

The small Victorian home, Lovers' Lane, Tool Sheds and Livery Building were just as my wife had imagined. I could hear this collective sigh issuing from all the women visitors as they recalled all the lazy, romantic summer readings which had made Anne and her circle, friends for life. I saw the movie. I missed the books. But they were certainly in the household and shared happily by Hilary and Lauren.

That evening we came back to Cavendish Beach to await sunset. A large and diverse crowd of visitors relaxed with cameras at the ready, but concern developed as a heavy cloud bank appeared to be rolling in from the Ocean. Would we get the sunset's glory? Would it be lost to the fog? Turned out that we got the best of both - rich orange farewell beneath a mysterious roof of mist. I remember chatting in this process with two tall Irish twin sisters in their sixties, one a widow living in Australia, the other married and hosting a wedding in the Maritimes.

Oh yes, they had both been raised on the stories of red-headed, ambitious, adventurous Anne of the Island.

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