And then there were none. The final Big Bras d’Or days brought greater stillness and dwindling hours of sunlight. The solar panel could no longer keep our batteries charged. We relied on the old-fashioned method of lighting the cabin after sundown: kerosene lamps. The Drolet kept us semi-warm at night as ice formed on the rain barrels and wash basin outside.
Fall colours peaked then began to fade. Furred and feathered co-tenants adjusted to the changing season. On consecutive nights barred owls called within a few feet of the cabin. Can they be courting already? Squadrons of scoters mobilized on the Great Bras d’Or, their maneuvers given away by the whistle of wings. Bald eagles returned in numbers from their hiatus at the Bird Islands. Hares lived up to their ‘varying’ label. Now their feet are white, the colour they will soon be overall -– all the better to hide in snow from those who would have them for lunch. A pair of squirrels set up their winter abode in the woodshed, objecting loudly when I stacked the last of the year’s birch and maple too close to their boudoir.
It takes a while to put the buildings to bed for the winter. I fell off the camper roof when the ladder skidded off the deck on a wet day. Casualties included bruises and contusions but no broken bones. I count myself lucky. By noon hour Saturday the cabin was shuttered and we were gone.
We went to Black Rock at the mouth of the Shubenacadie River on Cobequid Bay and stayed with Nancy and Donnie. We played Scrabble during a driving rainstorm, then when the sun came out we did too. One of the nature guides in the Nelson library got me thinking of slitherers. Have you ever seen a red-bellied snake, I asked. No. On our walk to the river we found one, sunning itself on the gravel road, the first I’d ever laid eyes on.
Now we are in Halifax hanging out with kith and kin. Doris is a little underweight for my liking but I’m grateful that my dear old mother outperforms most 86-year-olds when it comes to walking, laughing and cussing out wayward sons. Yesterday my kid sister Kathleen had a second surgery for breast cancer. The markers are all good and she is a fit, feisty flyweight. I feel confident.
In the city we look for city diversions. We dined with pals Stephen and Sheila at the Old Triangle pub in the heart of the old town. Cape Breton fiddler Dave MacIsaac provided the evening’s musical entertainment. Reels, jigs and strathspeys are not to all tastes: Stephen looked about as happy as if he were having a double root canal without anaesthetic. Jan and I are keen for more. Tonight we’re off to see and hear the great Lennie Gallant.
We are here another week before heading to the winter base camp. Victorians will have us to kick around again November 3.