Welcome to Prince Edward Island, Canada!
As one of the short story writers featured in the Writer’s Drawer Anthology A Certain Kind Of Freedom (the only Canadian!), I thought it might be fun to tell you a little about where I live. Before I begin, let me just say what a thrill it is to have a story published in such a notable collection of global works. I enjoyed each and every entry in the volume, and would love to plan a world trip based on each story and poem just to see where they take me. As it is, I may have to content myself with living vicariously but, even so, isn’t that the beauty of reading? Our journeys can begin and end on a comfy cushion, yet in our minds we can escape to anywhere.
Prince Edward Island, or P.E.I., is a tiny east coast province in Canada. In the heat of summer my lovely island, with its white sand beaches and laid back vibe, is a popular tourist destination, so the population varies throughout the year. In winter there are about 125 000 diehards frolicking in the snow and ice but in summer we add about 100 000 residents who populate the homes and cottages dotting the shoreline that are otherwise empty eight months of the year.
Economically it’s a challenge to make a go of life here. Some, from the States and other parts of Canada, dream of living here, and some move here, but many only stay a few years. There are few good jobs. My son, now twenty-three, has moved to the other ocean, on the west coast, where he has settled in Vancouver to pursue his dreams of music and working in the upscale coffee biz. There is a staggering absence of youth in beautiful Prince Edward Island. Lately, there is also a staggering exodus of men (and some women). Many cross our famed Confederation Bridge (which is, or was, the longest bridge ever constructed over ice-covered waters) to work for high pay in the oil fields of Alberta. Their families remain on P.E.I. because, despite the challenges, we are a small province, therefore a small community, and we find ourselves hopelessly tied to the people and the ocean’s incessant, rhythmic call.
Yes, the ocean is what keeps me here. There is something about the salty sea in the air I breathe that makes me feel claustrophobic without it. It is tied to my survival. I worked here for a number of years as a museum curator, which was work I loved, but I’m Aries and I felt the world calling me to do and try more. I am not well travelled but I did spend a year in Vancouver (at age 41! Was I crazy?) to learn filmmaking. I earn my keep now making client films in this tiny market in the hopes that someday I can both write full time (my Drifters series, self-published, despite being caught between two genres – women’s literature and romance – is enjoying steady sales) as well as fulfill my dream of producing and directing a feature drama. In the meantime, my feature documentary The Healing Place, as well as my fiction writing, is fulfilling my creative juices.
Prince Edward Island is a paradox. Rural beauty along with calming cobalt bays and indigo inlets tease islanders with invisible lines that fetter us to our famous red soil. Enchanting winters delight us despite the fact that we find ourselves tied to shovels. Making a living here is tough, but that’s easy to forget on lazy summer days when I can bicycle down dusty heritage clay roads bordering patchwork fields, or when I get up at dawn’s first light to film the few remaining fishermen who, despite increasingly low wages for their catches of succulent lobster, commune with the sea each day.
I am blessed to live here and I am reminded of that when I can gather with friends to explore new things like acting in my first play or singing in a new contemporary choir. I am surrounded by beauty, not just in the landscape but also in the people of this special place. I find myself rejoicing in the simplicity of island living, in the friendships and family ties, in the land and in the roiling brisk Atlantic Ocean.
Next on my list? Polish my first novel, from which my story A Certain Kind Of Freeedom was extracted, and publish it, either by my own hand or perhaps through a publisher if one will have me. Then – get to work on that feature drama. As far as I know I only get one go-round on this planet. I’ve already got the pastoral setting down pat. Now just to find a way to make a living so I can stay here, in serene Prince Edward Island with its imposing sandstone cliffs and joyous fields of golden canola and leafy green potato plants.
Come visit, take a dip in the cooling waters and calm your spirit. Make my home part of your epic worldwide journey as you celebrate the lives of writers with stories or poems in the anthology. I’ll put on some tea, and we’ll sit by the ocean and heed its call.