It is 2:30 am when the taxi dropped us off into the quiet dark of Water Street. We have arrived in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island from Victoria, British Columbia after making two connections – one in Vancouver and one in Toronto. The key was right where it was suppose to be along with a note from our hosts. We slipped into our small well-appointed circa 1857 house apartment. I send a quick note to our emergency contact that we were safely at our destination and it is lights out. This lasted until 5:30 am when I awoke to the beginnings of an east coast day. I toss and turn for an hour and then give up. There is nothing to do but get out there and join the rising sun! I head around the corner and down a small hill and I am at Confederation Landing.
The upside down world of the harbour seems most fitting.
There is a stunning art installation that will keep me coming back many times.
There is frost on the boardwalk.
Pussy willows just budding out.
Crocuses coming up under the shrubs.
All these wonderful signs of early spring! Little did I take to heart just how early a sign of spring it really was.
After a solo breakfast at a place down the street recommended by the city worker near the landing, I make my way over to the long boardwalk of Victoria Park. David is much more sensible and is peacefully getting a goodnight or rather day’s sleep.
Around the corner an old farm sits disappearing even with its well-worked fields.
I see my first small lighthouse and smile. It has been a good morning.
I go back to the apartment, fall into bed and sleep for another couple of hours. Our host and his daughter knock to welcome us and we have a great visit about this and that and everything. My paint supplies hadn’t yet arrived at his office. Our luggage will be coming later today as it wasn’t able to keep up with us yesterday – just ordinary friendly chit-chat in that warm PEI kind of way.
Once they leave, I started poking at David to get up so we can more easily get into eastern time.
We go for lunch at Terre Rouge and I have the best seafood chowder -ever! David decides on baked mac and cheese. I eat his salad. We each have a glass of wine. Even though this is breakfast for David, it is three o’clock in the afternoon. Have I ever said that we travel well and even better together?
Note: If you are planning a summer visit and think you might like to try Terre Rouge, a reservation was made while we were there for July 19th for two. I asked the server if this was common and she said anyone who had been to Charlottetown during the high-tourist summer months knew to make reservations ahead of time. So there you go, decide where you would like to eat in July and make the booking for the occasion at the end of April. No problem.
After a wander around the old town area we decide to go back to the boardwalk in Victoria Park. The beautiful large old dames along the shore are in perfect afternoon light.
We decide to sit in the late day sun on a freshly varnished bench in this highly polished city. A woman walks by and says “Nice to not be sitting in snowbanks isn’t it?”
I agreed and let her know that we didn’t see snowbanks last winter as we were from the southwest coast of Canada. This lead to a lengthy exchange which let us know, among other things, that the first cruise-ship arrives on May 2nd. This explains why there was a whole hive of city workers scrubbing and cleaning away the leftover remnants of winter.
After the woman walked on, David turns to me and comments “you have 32 new friends and you haven’t even been in Charlottetown 24 hours!”
He may be over-estimating, slightly, the number of people we have spoken with since arriving but not by much. Everyone we meet seems to take their role as a city ambassador seriously. They are proud of their island and their city. When we ask, many people tell us they have lived here their whole lives.
As a way of explanation, people give a soft shrug and say something like “it is a good place with good people, no need to really go any place else.”
There is only one other place we have visited in recent years that can match PEI for warmth and friendliness. This a small community on the outskirts of Florence in Italy. This kind of generosity of spirit and kindness is not something one should ever take lightly. We crawl into bed that night already feeling settled and at home. Tomorrow will be another day and what a day it is….
The bright sun and light-sweater-wearing of the day before are lost behind drifting snowflakes and just below freezing temperatures.
There is a white blanket on the boardwalk and the harbour is slow to wake.
The air is crisp and refreshing and the crocuses look to me as crocuses should, their beauty always most accentuated when wrapped in snow.
I see a break in the cloud cover to the north.
I am thinking the snow flurries won’t last as I admire the conte-red of the sandstone lining the Charlottetown harbour.
But I am wrong. It is snowing again as I head back down our street and it continues off and on for the rest of the day.
Like any seasoned traveling artist, I know a window of opportunity when I see one. We gather ourselves up to go and get groceries for the next couple of days. I always love organizing a kitchen with the things we appreciate.
There are little black-cap birds using the bird house outside the window and neither they nor us really mind the snow at all. I make chicken stew with PEI potatoes for supper, along with a side of salad greens smothered in delicious olive oil and balsamic vinegar from “Liquid Gold – tasting bar and all things olive” and artisan buns from Breadworks, difficult to find but so worth it! I served a Prince Edward Island medium dry Gamay Noir from Matos Winery & Distillery for a perfect pairing – a beautifully light-bodied red that should satisfy right into warmer weather.
By just before sunset the skies clear and I meander off to Victoria Park for a stroll. The grand ladies along the shore are looking extra fine this evening.
Tomorrow will be Friday and I promise myself that I will sleep late and I do.
I rise at 8:45 am to make coffee, a cheese sandwich, apple slices and carrots. My paints arrived yesterday afternoon and it is going to be a painting day! I check the temperature and it is plus six with sunshine. I head back to the harbour close to home. Then I run back and get my heavy wool sweater. The wind is picking up to a brisk clip. I decide it is still doable but need to use my big camera as a weight hung from the bottom of the easel to keep it from blowing over. I persevere. There are only a few other people out this morning in a city that seems to walk almost as much as drive. It is cold. My hands become stiff. I must focus hard to work the brushes and keep my teeth from chattering. Then I drift into that space that painters do and the quick sketch seemed to complete itself.
I am happy with it. The light here has a sharp edge that bites with harsh contempt for the camera long before midday. This is only our third day in Charlottetown. There are new colour harmonies to rendered and I am pleased to be back at work after taking time out for the actual travel and to get orientated in our new surroundings. I am looking forward to the weeks ahead as our second spring of this year unfolds before us. Welcome to Prince Edward Island, Canada dear readers!
What are you looking forward to this spring?
© 2016 Terrill Welch, All rights reserved.
Liberal usage granted with written permission. See “About” for details.
Creative Potager – Visit with painter and photographer Terrill Welch
From Mayne Island, British Columbia, Canada
For gallery and purchase information about Terrill’s photographs and paintings go to http://terrillwelchartist.com