Jan and I are settled into the summer place at Big Bras d'Or, somewhat recovered from a rude welcome. For the first time in the 37 years since I built the cabin overlooking the Great Bras d'Or, miscreants broke into the place, looting it of most of my power tools and other items of personal value. Anyone who has had to deal with a similar experience will appreciate the storm of emotions that swarmed us in the ensuing days. My initial homicidal fury morphed into a deep gloom that had me thinking about leaving Cape Breton forever. Now I have reached a stage of looking for ways of making my former shangri-la less vulnerable to thieves and vandals, and trying to restore some of the feeling for 'Bigador' the thieves stole along with the material items. Oddly perhaps, I find myself feeling apologetic on Cape Breton's behalf: we have learned a lot of this goes on around us.
On the bright side, friends have been exceedingly kind and supportive, and the non-human residents of Big Pay's old farm are as delightful as ever. A white-tailed doe and her two yearling fawns make an occasional appearance near the cabin and the varying hares -- still showing white feet -- munch on their grass, evidently not too concerned that the nuisance humans are back for another summer. Jan makes sure there is plenty of sugar water for the hummingbirds but, never mind, the little warriors want it all for themselves and battle endlessly. A barred owl has serenaded us a couple of nights from behind the workshop. Several species of warblers sing their territorial-imperative songs within earshot of us: Magnolia, Parula, Myrtle and the beautiful Blackburnian. We have a fine show of wildflowers, as our Flickr pictures will demonstrate.
The calendar says summer is just around the corner but there is no sign of it in Cape Breton. It is the Drolet woodstove that has kept us warm most days, not the sun. Today we're told to expect a high temperature of no better than 13 degrees. But Jan is Doug Brown's daughter and her garden is planted nonetheless.
Given the extra projects delivered by the break-in artists we haven't put much mileage on the bikes or hiking boots but that will change soon enough. In anticipation of our September return visit to the Great War battlefields I continue to look for relics of the Boularderie soldiers who went off to Flanders and France and never returned. Nova Scotia Power doesn't supply us with the wherewithal to operate a sewing machine but that doesn't stop Jan from making progress the old-fashioned way on her 'Jewels of the Pacific' quilt for the Auckland-Victoria Challenge.