A Walk on the Edge | 2021
Each year, Dr. Laurie Brinklow’s intrepid students from her Islandness: Culture, Change and Identity class take a “walk on the edge,” then document their experience – through words and images – of what it’s like being out on the edge of the Island. And because our class is in the winter semester, the experience isn’t of the usual sun, sand, and sea…
Here are the assignments from the 2021 cohort. Enjoy!
My friends always knew that the mountains had their backs, almost as if it were an ever-present hug waiting for when you needed it most. Although the mountains may never resonate with me as deeply as they do with some of my friends, I can at least relate to what they are saying.
Me, I grew up with the ocean. I grew up in Halifax, Nova Scotia, where the second largest non-freezing harbour in the world is a twenty-minute walk away from my house. Me, I grew up with the ocean. I have spent hours walking the seashore at my family’s cottage, feeling the roll of the sand under my feet, moulded by the ebb and flow of the tide. Me, I grew up with the ocean. It is a privilege to be able to discern what is fresh fish, and what is frozen fish, purely by the way the flakes break in your mouth. Me, I grew up with the ocean. Continue reading
I’ve been coming to this beach since I can remember, in every season. Since I was 3 years old, and possibly before. I know this piece of the island, of our planet, better than any other. As good as my own backyard where I grew up. It’s my favourite place on earth, besides my bed on a stormy day.
I’ve come here before in the early spring only to find all the sand washed away from the cliff that everyone clambours down to get to the beach. Just a pile of uninviting red stones left behind. Only to return in the early summer, before beaching season, to find the sand had returned, waiting to be churned up from brown to red by visitors’ eager feet. I’ve come in the winter before, but never on assignment, so I’m seeing the beach with a new perspective. Continue reading
In the summer, the beach smells like sand and sunscreen. There are forgotten buckets littering the sandbars and footprints leading to the surf. Now the beach smells crisp like snow with a frosty bite. I am nostalgic for summers but I prefer the solitude of winters here. In the winter there is, as Anne Shirley would say, more “scope for the imagination”. Which led me to writing “Contemplations on the Cove”.
“Contemplations on the Cove” looks to the duality of place, specifically an edge of Prince Edward Island. This particular edge presents an opportunity to look at the duality of childhood and adulthood, summer and winter, as well as fact and fiction. Understanding the place as an island is relevant as well because, for me, islands embody the duality of ocean and land which is a vital tenet to understanding the concept of Islandness, as I know it.
Walking down to the pier this week was a beautiful experience. I had wanted to see the beach since I had arrived on PEI in August when I saw the island from the window of the plane. Something about the ocean has always fascinated me; the breeze, the sun, the water, the atmosphere, everything about it brings me joy.
The day I walked from downtown to the pier was a sunny and windy day. Just standing on the pier I felt a sense of joy and could not stop smiling. The wind was mild, and the sun was so warm; I felt almost too warm in the winter coat and left it unzipped so I could feel the wind blow through me. Continue reading
9 degrees below freezing, sunny but cold. I finally get to see The Bridge from a shorter distance…the longest bridge in Canada, as well as the longest bridge in the world, crossing ice-covered water. There is not much traffic on the bridge, but the sound of trucks can still be heard from afar.
I try to picture the scene when Northumberland Strait is fully covered with ice…I try to be as calm as the Island now, yet the waves of my thoughts are bringing me back to Saint Petersburg, Russia, where I have stayed for the longest time besides my home island and Prince Edward Island. I guess part of me is still there, as in my dreams I keep wandering in their resplendent cathedrals and palaces. Endlessly. Continue reading
I am an island with water as a connector surrounding my circle of life. As I walk my ever expanding beach it is the water of my experiences that breathes life into who I am.
For the first 12 years of my life cycle, I lived on Brighton Road and on North River Road close to Charlottetown’s Victoria Park. My lake was Government Pond. My mind danced with the boats in the harbour, cars driving on the ice and Dead Man’s Pond.
I close my eyes now and see the harbour full of sails, rough waves and water smooth as glass, ice in the deep winter, ice cakes in the early spring, me sitting on the guns looking out at the horizon beyond the harbour’s entrance playing endless hours with my friends on water and in the trees and dreaming. Continue reading
The edge always feels like a return. I think back to the times of visiting the edge in the summer. The fun I had, the people that joined in. I think back to the times I’ve visited when things weren’t so fun. The sadness I felt, with only myself and the water present. The edge is always there, no matter your mood.
I’ve chosen to go to Covehead Harbour. This beach holds a lot of memories for me, as it most likely does for many others. It has changed a lot over the years. But yet, even though the water and the infrastructure has changed, in many ways, this side of the bridge offers something that feels stable. Continue reading
“We’re having a mild winter this year unlike usual,” an Islander walking her dog along the Lakeside beach told me after our greetings. Although this is my first winter on Prince Edward Island, I must agree with her because I was flooded with comments from newspapers since early November and heard other folks keep sharing their disappointment of a coming warm winter around the town. You know how Islanders enjoy talking about the weather in any gathering. A sense of community is one of the most feasible islandness traits that I discovered last time wandering around the Farmers’ Market. Hence, I thought the easing of restrictions, announced by Dr. Heather Morrison a few days ago that everybody could gather in a big group again, seemed to be a great big winter gift to compensate for our Islanders’ disappointment. Continue reading
Walking the Victoria Park boardwalk on a cold Wednesday afternoon, a day after heavy freezing rain was experienced island-wide, was an opportunity to visit and reflect on the Island’s perimeter’s significance. This geophysical boundary delineates the land from the sea. I reflected on being in that place, space and time and what it means to walk on the edge.
One of the reasons I chose Victoria Park was its historical richness. The history of Charlottetown is strongly connected to the events and activities that predated the modern-day Island. As I walked through the shore, I had a strong sense of land and sea interchangeability. Sea and land boundary are indefinable because there is no day the shoreline is precisely the same. The sea all through history depicts unrest where waves have broken against the land, and more land is claimed by the sea and vice versa. Continue reading
Being at the edge of the island gives me so much peace. For a moment, you realize how small your problems are, because here you are, on the edge of the ocean, knowing there are over 7 billion other humans around the world, and there must be someone else feeling the same way as you, right? The crisp, fresh air, along with the frozen scenery is good for the soul in a way that the summer experience cannot offer.
Both summer and winter offer a mental cleanse of sorts, because while the other surroundings change with the seasons, you’re always on the edge of the same island. Continue reading