Friday, February 13, 2009

Kelly’s Cross, Prince Edward Island, Canada 10.7.1983: Hay Making and Spruce Shade

These past few days busy. Friday, one thing after another. Went early in the day to see if any mail for me was in the mail room. No; none. Later, recalled that I was promised the check for travel expenses by Friday. Phoned to ask about it, was told it had been sent to the mail room. Went to mail room, the mail room manager, who had told me earlier that there was no mail, looked in the box, and sure enough, there was a letter for me—but not the check. He called the business office, they told him it had been sent c/o religious studies, and we finally found it in the extension box.

This seems typical of how things work in PEI. The letter in the box was a second library card; I had been asked three times at circulation desk for my name, etc., for the card. Friday also discovered that the library had not put a two-volume work I wanted on reserve for student reading—only volume two.

After all that, a seven-mile walk restored my soul—through hilly land, all pasture, potato fields, and buckwheat with its pleasant-unpleasant odor that is just this side of rank in the nostrils. A flock of sheep pasturing were, typically stupid, all clumped along the fence. A herd of cattle ran madly to meet me, heads cocked expectantly. As it was evening, I’m sure the one who was leading all the rest mistook me for her feeder. She mooed in puzzled inquiry as I passed.

I also flushed what I took to be a quail—a bird really like a miniature turkey, with black and white fan tail, and brown body. It appeared to be a bird that struts as much as flies. But I have a nagging recollection that quails don’t have fan tails. Must have been a partridge?

A rabbit also came into the road about ten yards ahead of me. Was fat, and seemed quite tame. It stopped, pulled itself more or less erect, and waited. I stood still. After a minute or so, it hopped on, and I dared to try to move closer. That didn’t startle it, curiously. I was upwind, so perhaps that explains its lack of timidity.

The great benison of the walk was a stretch running between spruce on either side, with fern and bracken in the verges. This was cool and pleasant-scented, and, because spruce doesn’t branch horizontally to a great extent, left the blue sky open.

I also enjoyed seeing the hay-making. Farm machinery here is all old and small—no need for gargantuan machines in these small fields. I passed an old haymaker on his little tractor pulling a wain full, and passed the time of day with him. The tractor broke down just at that time, so I jestingly said, “Better find some binder twine to tie it up”—then saw that part of the tractor was tied together in just that fashion.

Saturday best left unrecorded—gray, gloomy, lonely, and filled with interminable chores.

Today, an eleven-mile walk which began nice and ended miserable. I began by walking through a dirt road, wooded along the road, but fields on the side. This emerged into a paved section and on a hill overlooking the sea to the south (or is sea the correct term? strait?). Was very beautiful; even with the slatey skies, the water seemed to glow with more light than the sky could give. In the distance I could see the land across the water—Nova Scotia? To the left, right on the hillside, looking out the six miles or so to the sea, was a lovely house—the front all covered porch facing the water. The owners have sensibly screened the house from view with a hedge that included mock orange. In a way, the house looked very Southern, with its porch and what appeared to be a large central hall.

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