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From the Noticeboard

BUD’s Belfast Uke Drop-ins

BUD’s—Belfast Ukulele Drop-Ins is a group of local Belfast area folk who are learning how to pla [ ... ]

Al-Anon Day

District 10 Al-Anon Family Groups will be having a Al-Anon Day featuring a spiritual speaker on Octo [ ... ]

The Cove Journal

by JoDee Samuelson

Artwork by JoDee SamuelsonThe winter solstice has come and gone. We’re on the up-swing now! As the sun rises higher in the sky, every day grows a little longer. Thanks to everyone in the countryside who put up colored lights for the holidays. What a lift they give us during this darkest time of the year. I suppose they wouldn’t be such a treat if they were up all year.

The same holds true for Christmas trees. They quickly lose their charm once their needles start traveling around the house.

During a recent walk, my friend Kay mentioned that we know almost nothing about the trees that we so eagerly invite into our homes in December. They’re evergreens, yes, but what kind? And what’s the difference between a fir and a spruce tree?

Here’s what I learned.

The tree that was in our house, and is now out by the bird feeder, is a spruce. Like all spruce trees, its needles (leaves) are 4-sided in cross-section and grow around the stem out of little wooden “pegs.” All spruce trees produce cones that hang down a short distance from the tip of the branch. Our little tree is too young to produce cones (seeds), but its full-grown parent trees dropped their cones all over the driveway in autumn, so it’s safe to say that it’s a Picea glauca or white spruce. Picea mariana or black spruce hang onto their cones all winter.

Our tree was definitely not a fir. Fir trees have flattened needles, blunt at the end, that are attached to the stem by what one might call suction cups. Fir cones grow upright. When they mature in autumn their seeds fall off, leaving behind lonely abandoned spikes.

The fragrant Balsam fir, Abes balsamea, is our most popular Christmas tree. When its needles become hidden in the carpet, they pierce stocking feet less aggressively than spruce needles. In fact, a pile of fir boughs makes a fairly comfy mattress.

Spruce and fir trees are more than just ubiquitous shapes in the Island landscape. Spruce extracts have been used for healing wounds, soothing sore muscles, treating scurvy, easing arthritic pain. Rotted spruce was dried and pulverized to make baby powder. Spruce resin became a commercially popular chewing gum.

As for fir trees, their resin was used as a fire-starter, a salve, an adhesive. Today if you have a bad cough, you can still buy Buckley’s Cough Syrup. One of its tasty ingredients: balsam fir extract. Yum.

Kind of makes you appreciate that tree you dragged to the side of the road, doesn’t it.

Summary. To tell fir and spruce trees apart, remember that fir needles are flat, spruce needles are square; fir cones grow up, spruce cones grow down.

The old year is behind us and the New Year tingles with possibilities. Never chewed spruce gum? Maybe 2018 is the year to give it a try. You may learn to like it. We have plenty of spruce trees in the Cove and we’re always glad to share a little sap with our neighbors.

Happy New Year!

Events Calendar

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Some Upcoming Events

North Shore Community Centre event serie...

September 25
North Shore Community Centre The Rural Municipality of North Shore will present the Lat [ ... ]

Colette

October 15–25
City Cinema rating tba
Dir: Wash Westmoreland, UK, 111 min. Keira Knightley, Dominic  [ ... ]

Comic Book Art

Exhibit features work by Island comic book creators Until October 5
Eptek Centre There is a thrivin [ ... ]

Recent News & Articles

Drawing the line

Profile: Sandy Carruthers by Jane Ledwell Retired for a year now after twenty-five years teaching  [ ... ]

Filmworks Summerside

Film series is back for 7th season Filmworks Summerside opens for their 7th season on September 12  [ ... ]

An Island wish

On August 23, 4 year old Cooper Coughlin will arrive on Prince Edward Island soil for a once in a li [ ... ]