Thursday, October 23, 2014

October Charms

Cape Breton’s October charms proved lavish. An ordinary October can be expected to deliver frosty nights and a rainy day or three. We ordinarily awake towards the end of our stay to find a skim of ice on the wash basin. No such troubles afflicted us this time. Rain stayed away. Tuques and mittens remained in the drawer. Though I claim it is the best sleeping venue anywhere on the planet, we nonetheless usually abandon the porch once the mercury approaches zero. Not this year. One day the outside thermometer climbed to 24 Celsius. I considered going for a saltwater swim. Briefly.

Ideal conditions presented themselves for rambles with Lynn and Louise—to Mica Hill in CB Highlands National Park and Simon Point near Louisbourg. Diminutive shorebirds—sanderlings and semi-palmated plovers—permitted close approaches and provided generous photo opportunities. Gannets patrolled inshore waters as we gathered wild cranberries from the coastal barren.

October woods are largely silent. With hummingbirds, flycatchers and warblers gone south, we welcomed encounters with chickadees, pine grosbeaks and an occasional sharp-shin hawk. The ears and feet of our resident varying hares began turning white, the better to make them invisible when the land is draped in snow.

Fall colours burgeoned gloriously: scarlet maples and golden birches, the finest display, Jan asserted, of her eighteen seasons at Boularderie. A new friend joined us for the morning constitutional around Dalem Lake: Luna, pal Derek’s four-year-old boxer thinks nothing is better fun than chasing a stick, and the best friends are those who tirelessly throw it.

For the second year in a row good friends Garth and Carole forsook the charms of their own summer palace at Amherst Shore to join us in the musical fun on offer at the Celtic Colours International Festival. We liked all three of the evening concerts we attended—at Membertou, Sydney River and Judique—but gave highest marks to the Monday-to-Friday morning sessions at little Knox church in Baddeck where CBC Radio invites festival performers to make and talk about their music. We arrived early enough to command a front-pew seat, sufficiently close to reach out and pat the performers’ heads if we dared.  

The festival’s last day was Saturday. It was Bigadore’s too: we spent the day shutting down the summer operation and closed the cabin for the winter. It is never the happiest day of a sojourn at the Cape but the weather cooperated and operations proceeded without mishap.  At Sydney we shared a last supper with the twins then applied goodbye hugs. Air Canada had us airborne at 6 on Sunday morning, too early to see what we were waving at as we bade farewell to Cape Breton for another year.

1 comment:

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