Imagine how charmed we were to arrive at Bigador May 20 and find the summer shack-ri-la uninvaded by human intruders. True, squirrels had built winter dens in the outhouse and woodshed and the workshop showed signs of having provided off-season sanctuary to a deer mouse or two but those sorts of interlopers we can stand.
May 20 was our earliest-ever arrival date at the old Big Bras d’Or farm, early enough to deliver us a second spring. We found the woods carpeted with wildflowers -- violets, clintonia lilies, lily-of-the-valley, wild sarsaparilla et al. Already we have seen 50 species of birds including eleven warblers. Eight of them are summer denizens of Bigador including some of the most beautiful you’ll find illustrated in the Peterson guide – Blackburnian, Magnolia, Black-throated Green, Parula – but migration is still underway: we were early enough to see a warbler gang ‘just passing through’ that included Yellow, Wilson’s and Yellowthroat. Northern Gannet is an offshore seabird. Unusually, one flew into the waters of the Great Bras d’Or just opposite the cabin, entertaining us with a spectacular dive from great height for a seafood lunch. We don’t even have to leave the building for good birding. Our feeders are installed and well attended. A pair of Hermit Thrushes is raising a brood under a little pine right just 10’ away from the dining room window.
Mammals thrive too. The neighbour man used to shoot every four-footed thing that moved, but by recently going to his reward the wild things are rewarded too. The feet and undersides of the varying hares still show white traces of their winter garb. Foxes are on the rebound. Scat dotting our roadway indicates it’s only a matter of time before our first coyote sighting. Best of all, with no guns blazing from the neighbour’s place, a white-tailed deer showed up the other day near the cabin, the first laid eyes on in three decades.
The Darlings – Lynn and Louise– did their level-best to commit a homicide last Saturday by way of a 10-hour slog up four hills, down four dales in CB Highlands National Park. Near death though I was by the end of it, I managed to stagger back to the vehicle feeling every one of my 63-year-old aching joints and muscles. Jan was tested too but she is a better soldier than I and sucked it up for the homestretch. The twins? Of course the effort was absolutely, well, effortless for them. At the outset I would have claimed our party comprised three women and one man but the day’s events proved conclusively that the roster actually included three cow moose and one soft, spongey wimp. Tomorrow, Saturday, we are scheduled for a return engagement with the 100-lb Wonders. I have been in training all week and hope to embarrass myself a little less grandly than I did the first time out.
Bigador is wonderfully quiet at this time of year. The fjord is mostly devoid of boat traffic, summer visitors have yet to arrive, Old Route 5 is only lightly travelled. When the sun shines we spend hours rambling in the woods and fields. Now that Steve Nash is out of the NBA playoffs, I feel not the faintest need for a TV; if we need to know what awful things are going on in the Gulf of Mexico, Afghanistan or the Gaza Strip, CBC Radio keeps us in the loop. Otherwise, fiercely contested games of Bananagrams keep us distracted while honing our competitive edge; when that gets to be too much there is no place for reading a worthy book quite like the old rocking chair parked in front of the warming Drolet woodstove.