When I first moved to the island three years ago I found much of my comfort within nature. The Fall hit, my favourite time of year and I loved the feeling of the crisp, salty air on my face. It felt like it could momentarily bring me back to life after a long day. In the wise words of Isak Dinesen “the cure for anything is salt water- sweat, tears and the sea.”
I’ve always loved going for drives in the country. Putting on some of my favourite music, a hot drink in my cup holder and admiring the leaves on the trees changing from green to red. My favourite route includes a stop at the East Point Lighthouse and continuing around to the North Side to see the beautiful highland cows that spread across the field near North Lake. A stop at the North Lake Boathouse for a delicious, warm meal, followed by a walk on the docks to admire the fishing boats lined up on the water. The Autumn hues whisked within the clouds in the sky and the boats reflecting on the water. If you’re lucky you might even catch a tuna coming in!
One evening we did the drive backwards so we ended at the lighthouse as the sun was beginning to set. As we neared the end of the bumpy, winding road we saw the ocean waves in the distance but prancing in front of it’s beauty were a family of foxes. I sat there in complete awe, they weren’t scared of us. I had never seen anything like it before. To be honest I was a little nervous of them. They were wild animals that I had never seen up close before and they were standing outside of my car with such curious eyes. We reluctantly stepped out of the vehicle and I took a picture with my cell phone. They were so beautiful and as someone who loves photography, I was sad that I had left my camera at home. I wondered if we made the five minute drive back to get it, would they still be here when I returned? I took the chance. When I came back there they were welcoming me like I was an old friend. I snapped a few more pictures and headed out as it was getting dark but I left with a plan of going back the next day.
As I slowed towards the end of the lighthouse road the next evening, there they were again. Foxes trotted up to the car, eager to say hello. These foxes were not like any others I had ever seen. They were used to many tourist visits to the lighthouse in the summertime so they didn’t see humans as a threat. It became a hobby of mine, going on an adventure in the evenings and having the chance to admire such beautiful creatures. Watching them run around the lighthouse was such a miraculous thing that I always felt lucky to get to experience.
I learned from the locals that the silver fox was the father, he stood out from the rest with his black fur and what looked like silver highlights shining throughout his coat, his soft tail with the trademark white tip. The mother fox was a classic red. When the Spring arrived, so did the young foxes. They almost looked more like little bear cubs than foxes and they had a distinct smell that I wasn’t aware of. I stayed a safe distance as I watched them tumble around with each other playfully, their mother watching with a careful eye.
After a few years of living on the island I now know that the foxes at the lighthouse are common knowledge to locals. We had visited the lighthouse years prior with our son and explored the beautiful East Point Lighthouse gift shop. Scenic post cards, handmade, local pottery and lighthouse memorabilia filled the shelves of the little shop. My son picked out a little stuffed fox in the gift shop that he named “Foxy,” he was quite creative when it came to naming his stuffed animals as I’m sure you can tell. None of us knew the story behind the stuffed fox with the red PEI bandana wrapped around his little neck but in the following years it became very clear why the fox seemed to be the Lighthouse mascot.
My introduction to the foxes up East felt like such a warm welcome to the island. It’s something that I don’t believe I will ever grow tired of. It doesn’t matter how many times I’ve driven up that winding road, their beauty will always take my breath away and feel like magic. If you’re ever on the island I recommend a trip up East to meet the curious creatures. Perhaps a weekend adventure at North Lake where you can cozy up with your loved ones at the nautical Siren’s Beach Motel and then head to The North Lake Boathouse Eatery for some eggs Benedict and coffee in the morning. Good food, a clean place to stay, hot coffee and a visit to the lighthouse to visit the “locals” while overlooking the ocean waves crashing over the red cliffs.
Ashley MacDonald is a Nova Scotian born freelance writer who began using her love of writing and photography as a form of therapy during her son’s cancer treatment. She continued to write after he passed away in October 2019 as a way to help keep his story alive, heal her heart and share her experience with grief and sorrow with others who may be struggling. She graduated from Dalhousie University with a Bachelor of Science Recreation in 2014 and moved to Prince Edward Island in 2020 in search of comfort and simplicity.