The Cove Journal
by JoDee Samuelson
The ice is setting in around the Island and it finally feels like winter. But what is an average winter here? We’re always setting records of some kind. In the delightful Letters from the Manse, author Joan Colborne writes (March 3, 1949): “Even the people who have lived round [O’Leary] all their life have been impressed with this series of blizzards.”
I remember the winter of 1991, skating on sheet glass ice from West Street in Charlottetown across to Rocky Point, and returning via York Point. Has there been ice like that since then? I don’t think so.
At one time, the Island’s frozen rivers became its highways. In the Cove, a farmer with horse and sleigh and a load of potatoes or firewood to sell would head east across the fields and down onto the ice at Long Creek. From there it was a simple glide into Charlottetown—avoiding, of course, the thin ice.
Many of us rely on books and photos to inform us of by-gone days. If we’re fortunate, we have friends who were around in those times who can tell us how to avoid the weak ice. How we hate to lose these friends! In the past few weeks, two elderly mothers of people in the Cove have passed on, carrying their memories with them. Last year we lost our beautiful and generous local historian, Florence MacCannell.
And recently our neighbour Steven MacKinnon died. Steven was not an old man, but he was an old soul, and a storyteller. Last fall he came to our house with ten pounds of hamburger from a steer he’d had killed. He stood in the doorway talking for a good half hour before placing the hamburger in my hands. I learned all abut how he had fed his animals, how they came when he called, how he grew his grain, how he never sprayed chemicals on any of his fields. “When I go home,” he said, “I’m going to take a handful of this hamburger and fry it up just as is. That’s going to be my supper. I can’t wait!”
When he left, I said, “Let’s fry up some of this.” Without any question, that was the most delicious hamburger I ever ate.
We won’t be getting any more of Steven’s hamburger, or his stories. One day as we were walking down to the Cove, two bald eagles flew overhead, and it seemed like Steven might be one of those eagles. He liked big things and big ideas, and when he got going his ideas seemed to soar just like those eagles.
There is a wind turbine in Steven’s farmyard—a serious machine atop a hundred foot tower. Every day when I look up the hill I can see that turbine with its white blades flashing, and I wonder how can it keep going without Steven?
Things do keep going though. Winter turns into spring, and if we’re lucky we don’t fall through the ice.