A Walk on the Edge – Stephanie Hudson

A Walk on the Edge
Stephanie Hudson

February 8, 2021
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.

While watching the wind move the waves and seeing them crash into rocks and the side of the land was awe inspiring. I could not help but feel as I was rocking with the wind and the waves. I watched the waves crash into free standing rocks; I could not help but wonder what they were before, and what they might be in the future. The water is so powerful, it shapes the world around us. Even the pier I was at had been shaped by the ocean tides, the rocks were almost a cliff face and the spray of the waves hit high up on the rocks as it crashed over.

I wish I had had time to go to a beach, something of the sand and the direct shore of an island seems beautiful; to stand at the edge of land and look out to the horizon, to see nothing but waves and sky. But also I wanted to see something less urbanized, though the pier was beautiful I could not look out without seeing docks or metal. Seeing the urban landscape stopped me from feeling disconnected from the mainland, and while I did not feel alone; there were others walking the pier, I could not let myself go and embrace the tides. It did bring me a sense of how dependent on the water that we still are especially on PEI, even with the pier boarded up it still had people walking along, with children and pets to enjoy the beautiful day. It brought forth a sense of peace and community that I had felt a disconnect from in the colder season. Even on the edge of land, people were there for beauty, peace, and exercise; it was a small piece of perfection I’ll keep for the colder days.

What I wanted to embrace with this assignment was to walk along the shore; which I intend to do when I can spare more time. Though I was still able to think on what I felt on the edge, and all I could think about was those who came before me. Those who first made their home on the island, what did they feel when they were on the shore, did they see it as safety, danger, a source of food, a home, a source of power; whatever they felt they made this island their home and lived with the ocean for centuries. I want to know how they lived, where they lived, was it on the shore? Or further inland? What was the water like, was it clearer or similar to today? Were the fish more plentiful, what types of fish were around back then that do not exist or thrive in this location anymore?

And what interests me the most is what has stood the test of time and remains to be uncovered? Because the ice has steadily been melting our shores are so much more different than they were even a century ago, any sites of settlement or housing remains could be under the water. I am sure that much of this knowledge is not unknown and is still held by the indigenous groups that have lived on PEI, and I would love to hear the history they hold and how they lived on the island. The Mi’kmaq have lived here for thousands of years and have seen the shores change more and more, I wonder if they see it as a way of life or as destruction. I also wonder if I should see it as destruction; yes we may be losing archaeological sites and knowledge, I feel that we are gaining a better understanding of our planet. No one wants shores to erode or islands to sink, but this is the only way that the planet has been able to make us stop and think. In the end standing on the edge of the island made me want to hope for the future, but also I want the planet to flourish and I do not know anymore if it can do that with us living the way we are on it. I think I may have to continue to walk along the shores of PEI, until I can truly understand what calls humans so deeply back to the ocean depths.

Stephanie Hudson is a Graduate Student in the Master of Arts in Island Studies program at the University of Prince Edward Island. View her Student Profile.

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