A Walk on the Edge – Wendy Collett

My Edge is the Intersection of Change
Wendy Collett

Today is bright and sunny; however, the sun is deceiving. The thermometer reads -12 degrees Celsius; however, it feels like -22 with the wind chill. Arriving at my local shore, I notice the snow is deeper closer to the beach. To ensure I can leave, I back my car in, don my gloves, hat, and scarf, then grab my walking stick. I notice how quickly I feel the cold as I get out of the car. My glasses begin to fog, so I remove them and leave them in the car. Brrr … this might be a short walk.

Dressed warmly, sheltered by the trees, I begin walking to the shore. The light breeze is on my back. It is warmer than I expected until I take off my glove to snap a picture of the coast from the road; within 10 seconds, my fingers are numb with cold. I quickly pull my glove back on and tuck my hand under my armpit to warm up. I carefully make my way over the ice and through the snow.

The caw of crows and the whisper of the wind are the only sounds I hear as I stand and listen at the edge of land and ice. Peacefulness and beauty encourage me to stop and observe my surroundings. There is no scent of salt or seaweed in the air. I wonder … Why have I not walked the beach in the winter more? It is positively breathtaking.

My initial observations reveal summer beach craft items are more plentiful in the winter. As I walk towards the Confederation Bridge, the abundance of driftwood along the beach provides unique sculptures and works of art. Perhaps one of these would look great in my flower bed. A question I ask myself every time I visit the shore. Today’s driftwood looks like old trees. I wonder where they come from, how old they are, and where they have travelled on their journey to get here. Where will they end up? Are they going to be used as fuel for a summer clambake or lobster boil on the beach? Or will they end up part of an Island landscape? The shore is not the beginning for this driftwood, nor is it the end. It is part of their journey, a stopping point along the way.

As I wander along the beach, I watch my step to ensure I do not slip or turn my ankle on the rugged ice and uneven tide line. I notice sea glass glimmering in the sunlight. In the summer, tourists gather sea glass making it hard to find. After the recent storms, I am not surprised to see a great quantity within a foot along the tide line.

Pottery is less often found along this shore, which has me questioning how it got here? What is this piece a part of? What was its purpose, where did it originate, and where will it go? The sharp edge and rectangular shape have a clear beginning and end. The Pattern continues past the edge, implying there is more out there somewhere, in the water, along the shore? If I return tomorrow, will I find more?

Looking around, I notice the uniqueness and beauty of the snow cakes above the tide line and the ice in the bay. All of which have edges and create a beauty of their own. These snow cakes would make a great igloo, and that pool-like spot of ice would be a great fishing hole. My mind rambles as I recall the winter activities of my youth.

As I continue along the ice-encrusted shore, I hear the crunch of ice, the whisper of the wind, and my thoughts pulsating in my mind. ‘What is the edge to me?’ Is it where the land meets the ice, where the ice ends and open water begins? Is it the Island side of the bridge I can see in the distance or the mainland end of the bridge? As I continue towards the bridge, I ponder the meaning of the ‘edge.’ Is it a beginning or an ending? Is it a dividing line or a drop-off? I stop to sit on some driftwood and ponder what the edge means to me.

I decide the edge is a binary: an intersection of change, like my driftwood seat, with ice and sunshine, one on each side. It has a beginning and an end, a start and a finish, one side or the other, although the line is not always clear. The edge is looking at something with different perspectives. With my new insight, I relax and reflect on the last few weeks of my life. A literal edge I recognize is the end of life. Moving from living to dying. The process of preparing for death and the challenges of dealing with death. It is a transition for both the individual dying and the family member(s) left behind. A pang of sadness envelopes me as I sit on the edge. Another thought runs through my mind, being on the edge can also be metaphoric. The idea of my ‘rug hooking’ project comes to mind, and the uncertainty and excitement of learning a new skill brings a smile to my face. Happiness envelops me while sitting on the edge. For me, the edge is a turning point, a point of change. I am on the edge of something new and exciting, a new adventure, experience, and challenge.

As I go beyond my car, I hear the trickle of water over the squeak of my footsteps. I feel the wind’s chill on my face and the warmth of the sun on my body. A sign that spring will come again. The season’s edge is visible in the melting snow and trickling water, contrasting with the crunch of shifting ice and bitter wind. The edge is constantly changing.

As I cautiously walk back toward my car, I stop to take a picture of footprints in the snow. I recall visiting PEI in the summer of ’78 and being given a red clay pendant in the shape of a footprint that read, “I left my footprint on PEI.” However, I believe PEI has left its imprint on me. I am not alone on my journey to explore the winter shoreline and see the changes. Others have been here and more will follow, perhaps to ponder the meaning of the edge within their own terms.