What's It All About, eh?

Cape Breton evokes deep memories and strong emotions for me as well as a deep appreciation for the beauty of my adopted island. My hopes are that you too might find the photos evocative - maybe a view you've not enjoyed before, or an 'Oh I've been there', or if from away that you may be encouraged to visit this fair isle so that you might come to love and breathe Cape Breton as I do. One word about place names that I use - some are completely local usage while others are from maps of Cape Breton that I've purchased over the years. I frequently post travel and other photos that are of interest to me - and hopefully you.

On the right hand side bar find my take on Single Malt whiskey - from how to best enjoy this noble drink to reviews (in a most non-professional manner) of ones that I have tried and liked - or not. Also musings, mine and others, on life in general.

Photographs are roughly 98%+ my own and copy-righted. For the occasional photo that is borrowed, credit is given where possible - recently I have started posting unusual net photographs that seem unique. Feel free to borrow any of my photos for non-commercial use, otherwise contact me. Starting late in 2013 I have tried to be consistent in identifying my photographs using ©smck on all out of camera photos I personally captured - (I often do minor computer changes such as 'crop' or 'shadow' etc but usually nothing major), and using
©norvellhimself on all photos that I have played around with in case it might not be obvious. Lately I have dropped the ©smck and have watermarked them with the blog name.

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Black River

© September '08   photo by smck
This is a great kayak - up Black River past the island in back of Archie MacDonald's old place.  We had put in at Cameron's store (now closed after being the  River Confectionery for a long number of  years)  on the road out to Soldiers Cove, then paddled under the iron bridge with its' wood plank road surface and onto the stretch of water shown above.  Once you pass the island (on the left) the river opens into a large lake-like body of water with numerous small coves and marshes.   If the day is not too windy it also makes for a great safe and easy paddle for novices or young children and always gives the likelihood of seeing various birds - loon, ducks, mergansers, etc. - and even rarely otters.

Mist Covered Hills

© August '11   photo by smck

One of Toikien's Tree Dwellers

© November '10    photo by smck

And although the Harfoots were not at home they left a guard spell to remind the unleery to meddle elsewhere.

Homing in to the Canal

© August '10   photo by smck

 Watching a distant sailboat homing from St. Peters Bay to the canal for the night

© August '10   photo by smck

End of The Day

© August '10    photo by smck
Day is done, gone the sun
From the lakes, from the hills, from the sky

All is well, safely rest

God is nigh.

Fading light dims the sight

And a star gems the sky, gleaming bright

From afar, drawing near

Falls the night.

Thanks and praise for our days

Neath the sun, neath the stars, neath the sky

As we go, this we know

God is nigh.

 words written by Horace Lorenzo Trim

File:Taps music notation.svg

Where In Grand River

© August '10   photo by smck

Water sounds whispering below the gunnels,  white wisps of clouds drifting silently overhead,  incredibly clear water reflecting them below, this summer day like a gift from God lives on in our minds forever.

Three Generations

© August '10   photo by smck

At the far end of Pt. Michaud Beach exploring the pungent flow of marsh waters to the sea with Michaud Point itself in the background. 

Chapel Cove Sign

© August '11   photo by smck
© August '11   photo by smck
© August '11   photo by smck

Beach Fog

©2009 Point Michaud Beach House
Usually all photos are my own, but I saw this one on the website of a friend who runs a small rental beach-house in the summer and immediately wished that I had taken it.  I asked her about possibly running it on my blog if I included her beach-house web address.  And so here 'tis:

If you're in no hurry give it a click and maybe plan your vacation.

Himself and His Dog

© September '08   by smck
© September '08   by smck

Although only a shadow of my former self I am still happy to be in Cape Breton.

Sea and Rock

© September '08    photo by smck

I liked this scene a lot, the power and sound of the crashing waves, the power of life clinging to the embattled living rock, and the tang of salt and spray - and it also intrigues me with the apparent curvature of the horizon.  Is this optical from the camera lens or is it the actual curvature of the earth?

Up In The Marsh Grass

© July '10   photo by smck

A storm's high water's moved the old rowboat up into the semi-dry marshy area above the shore road. 

Hay Meadow Going Back To Spruce

© July '10   photo by smck

It suddenly dawned on me that the hay meadow on the big hill across the Alder swamp from us, the hay meadow that had been there for several generations, was reverting back to the arboreal forest of the north.   We flew kites there and picked blueberries and watched hay being 'made' by drying in the sun and then being pitchforked onto an old wagon behind a truck.  It was inevitable - Buddy had valiantly mowed it every summer, long after he moved away, and the hay was of value to those who came and carried it back to their own old farm.  This farm, of the old hay meadow, was no longer the  farm of old, it was a farm of pulp wood for the mill and the hay meadow was a chore for memory only, not a chore of preparing for the winter's long rule.  Several years before this photograph was taken the large granted lot exchanged hands to someone from another time and place.  So in those years since the last haying, the small buds of spruce germinated and year by year they grew almost invisibly it seems - but now, as I took my camera in hand, the visible spruce are visible evidence that another hard won farm lot is being lost - the rural areas lose people, the cities grow larger.  It is like a blight of sadness on the land - and not just in Cape Breton, but around the world.

Sail Boats on St. Peter's Innlet (II)

© July '10   photo by smck

This photograph was taken about the same time as Sailboats on St. Peter's Inlet, 11 Mar '12 - but with a different lens setting - if you look closely you can see the sails in the distance are not as far westward as in the first posted scene.  I usually try to discard similar photos, but in this case I liked each picture equally well as they portend different emotions to the scene - both conveying that Cape Breton elusiveness of time and place.

Beach Grasses

© July '10   photo by smck

Rodney Mathews TreeBeard

© August '10   photo by smck

And there on Parker's land - where D.D. his father had grown up - I espied this dead spruce which easily could have been the inspiration for Rodney Mathew's posters of the 90s such as "TreeBeard"  from The Lord of the Rings and "Jabberwocky Tree". 

Estuary Nursery

© August '09   by smck

As we waded in the shallow waters of the channels leading to the estuary at the sea we could see numerous small darting shapes everywhere - Calum, quicker than I, captured several for my lens and then released them.  The percentage of these crustaceans that would make it to maturity is small but these guys would live another day. 
© August '09   by smck
© August '09   by smck

Cormorants Taking The Sun

© August '09   photo by smck
Cormorants, some with wings held aloft to dry, perch on their reef as we approach Michaud Point proper on our long pleasant hike from the Pt. Michaud beach.   We are close to the old wharf area but this day we stop here without exploring the point itself and retrace our steps (mainly because I am barefoot and really tender-footed).   Michaud point is somewhat 'T' shaped, a rounded islandly T-shape that completes the great hook of land that shelters the Pt. Michaud beach area from the sweeping Atlantic currents and thus countless years of sand deposition have taken place.  This makes for a relatively shallow depth to the waters enabling the sun to warm them nicely by summers end. 

"Thunder-clouds Rent The Air"

©  August '10   photo by smck

Along The Abandoned Line

© August '10   photo by smck
Walking the St. Peter's Trail along The St. Peter's Bay there are these mysterious concrete ruins left almost intact.  Everyone thinks they are some part of the old railroad line - were they old coal bins, old fish bins, an old docking arrangement for boats unloading into the train - we'll never know maybe, or maybe some one will comment that his father knew that they were the ______________.

Man's Best Friend

©  August '10   photo by smck

Red Dragon Beach

©  August '10   photo by smck

At Point Michaud Beach the flying dragons were aloft, flying in plunging dives upon the helpless bathers there below.

© August '10   photo by smck
 The sandy beach and the calm waters of Point Michaud Beach - one of the few places that the cold North Atlantic warms to pleasant swimming waters - with life guards  

The Old Mill Pond

© August '10   photo by smck

On the back gravel road from the East Side to L'Archeveque you pass this small pond that is gradually being filled in with the growth of water plants and fine but continuous sediments building on the bottom.  Long years past, a small dam - the road rides on the crest of it - labouriously built without machinery created the small pond with the diverted water used to turn a large mill stone.  I am not sure how many years the mill was in service but it was long gone when I lived here in the late '70s - all except for two large round milling stones that were nearly covered by soil accumulation.  The stones are now gone, being taken for some road entrance decoration somewhere I'm sure - but I wish they were still here giving further credence to the memory of the mill and the men and women who lived in this vigorous community of the late 1800's and early 1900's - a community that stretched for miles along the shore and inland to lakes and streams, hundred acre lots with house and barn and small hay fields and in each clustered grouping a church, a town meeting building, a small school building - and here and there a mill for flour or for sawing boards and lumber .  A hard life but free.

The Old Fog Horn

© August '10   photo by smck

The old fog horn no longer sounds - modern technology has rendered it obsolete and the fishermen and other craft are the safer for it .  But I miss that mournful sound coming through the foggy night, curling round my mind as the fog curls round the cabin lost in the darkness of night at the shore - no other sound but a slurrr of surf like the whisper of time without end.

Chapel Cove Harbour, L'Ardoise

© August '11   photo by smck
This clean trim boat - the only one moored at the harbour dock this misty day - encapsulates form and function and still looks like a work of art.

Grazing toward the Bras d'Orrs

© August '11   photo by smck

The sand bars across inlets seem to be a law of nature and in a sense they are.  Although this is the calmer waters of  The Bras d'Or (as compared to the cold North Atlantic) a similar wave and current action still is at work carrying sand and gravel and depositing it to form the long bars from point to point of land.  To the far right you can see the small gut to the lake.  This photograph was taken somewhat hurriedly from the side of the road -  because there was very little shoulder and I didn't want to be blocking traffic doing the tourist photo thing.  But the bucolic appeal of these free grazing  small-farm cows looking wholesome and real and the way life has been for generations, was irresistible.

♪♫ Here Comes The Sun ♪♫

© September '11   photo by smck
Up and out early, dew on grass, old lobster traps, truck, trees, on every thing - that translucent shadow of morning which is so distinguishable from the shadow of evening just as the glow of birth is distinguishable from the shade of leaving this mortal coil - that translucent shadow giving way before me to the glow of sun on the spruce on the hill, and so now on this Easter day (of posting) this scene remembered in the strange storage of my human brain and remembered in the pixeled world of computer-land is so tempting in its imagery of the light of resurrection.  But when I glimmed this burst of sun on the tops of trees back in September it was the shade of leaving for another year, the always background thought of my transience in this world of living and in this narrower world of living in Cape Breton that gave me momentary pause and the unformulated thought of the end of summer as of the end of all.  But here tonight I am transfixed with the photo and look forward to scything the hill again, of raking the tall grasses and stiff stems of the monocotyledons of Golden Rod and wild daisy, and the numerous pithy growths of Lambs Kill and other noxious plants (to my imagined grassy hill side to be), and seeing Spring Hill spring up to being again my born-again home again.

Semipalmated Sandpiper ??

© September '11   photo by smck

If you are a birder would you please feel free to either confirm my identification (in photo title) or tell me what it should be - the Semipalmated was just enough different (winter plumage) in my old Birds of North America, so that I was not too confident - but nothing else fit the bill (sorry 'bout that, eh?).

Edible Wild Rose Hips

© September '11   photo by smck

This fruit of the wild rose that grows along the shore in profusion in many places - this particular photo being taken at the Mointeach - ripens to an edible fruit in September.  I am not certain but I believe that this is 'Rosa Rugosa' originally native to Asia but long ago introduced to North America.  The 'hip' is quite tasty and I eat them by the handful - but you must be very careful while eating them as the center seed mass is surrounded by very prickly fine hair like growths (which when dried and crushed have often been sold as 'itching powder').  The rose hip is exceedingly rich in vitamin C.  For those who like to make jelly and jam this is a good candidate.

The following web site refers to Rosa Rugosa: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rosa_rugosa

A Driftwood Tree bleaching in the sun

© September '11   photo by smck
In the upper left hand corner you can see the narrow gut of Grand River emptying into the ocean.  The bleaching tree and root system seen above could quite possibly be a spruce that had eroded away from the hill in the 'Red Head - from the Mointeach' posting below and then gotten swept up onto the top of this bar by a strong gale. 

Summer's End

© September '11   photo by smck
Grand River looking north from near the remains of the old fishing pier at the old mouth to the ocean - the kind of day that at summers end makes Cape Breton in general and Grand River in particular one of the greatest places that I've ever been. 

Shore Birds blend in with background

© August '10   photo by smck

 There are at least thirteen shore birds visible in this picture.  You can make the photo larger by clicking on it.

Duckless Duck Race

 August '10   photo by smck
The Grand River Volunteer Fire Company holds a Duckless Duck Race in the summer as part of their fund raising activities. The scene above shows the multicolored floating balls each of which corresponds to a ticket for the hopeful winner.  They are released all together upstream and then the vagaries of fate determine their journey down and into the 'V' of the net - and of course there can only be one 'first' through.  Many people always attend the summer festive day and can readily view the travel of the Duckless Duck balls as they come down stream.  The river is much shallower in this scene than in the same view in the Post 'Grand River Running Full' when the river was flowing very full - the volunteers cheerfully wading in the water are not upset at the slower current

Red Cape - from the Mointeach

© September '11   photo by smck

The photo is taken looking toward Red Head, better known locally as Red Cape.  If you follow the slope of that spruce covered head downward toward the right, it is where the slope reaches its lowest level that you will find the relatively narrow outlet of Grand River to the ocean.   In the early days of Grand River the river exited to the fore side of the rocky outcropping showing at the end of the surf.  There, over on the river side of the sandy gravelly bar, are the faint remains of a small fishing dock - large rocks, boulders almost, piled around the scant remains of old timbered piling and cross-members .  There too lighters unloaded store goods to a small barge to float them upstream to the store which  served the community of Grand River in the days before roads were a reliable means of travel between communities. 

Grand River from the hay meadow

© September '11   photo by smck

Standing on the slight hill above the Mointeach (mawn-yuck) just off the old mill road you can see the ocean on the south, the river's mouth and Red Head to the west, and here, looking slightly north-west, are several arms of the estuary-like  mouth of the river which is almost completely dammed against the sea. They are glimmering bluely with the sun.  This old hay meadow from which the photo was snapped is slowly being overtaken by alders and spruce - you can notice the downed spruce in the foreground.  Every few years some of these old fields have the trees and brush cut, gathered and sometimes burned but it is a losing battle unless they are working fields as of yore - for hay making, or grazing of cattle or sheep.  With the influx of the coyote/wolf cross breeds raising sheep is no longer really possible without expensive double fencing.  Few and far between are any who attempt farming in a homestead manner.

If you go to the 14 Mar '12 posting - 'The Mointeach' - the pictured wave is rolling up the beach side of a long curving bar which effectively dams Grand River's exit to the sea - at the present far up the beach to the westward there is a small tidal gut through which on high tide the ocean pumps salt water into the river estuary and for several miles up river almost to the stream in front of me old farm.  Then on low tide the same gut to the ocean becomes a rushing current draining the whole river to expose clamming bars in profusion.  It is a real thrill to body surf with the out-rushing stream into the ocean on a bright August day.

Three Deer

© August '10   photo by smck
 If you look closely you will see three deer - a doe with two fawns near the water's edge.  I was driving the Grand Gulley road from the old route 4 toward Church Point in River Bourgeois when I espied them eating quietly along the shore. This is a nice meander route to River Bourgeois on a decently maintained gravel road.   River Bourgeois "one of the oldest and most enduring communities in Cape Breton" is the name of the town and of the large river-like inlet which borders it and Cannes - Grand Gulley itself is another river-like inlet that extends eastward from Church Point giving pleasant vista's as you drive to visit this appealing area. 

Light House at the canal

© August '09  photo by smck

Located on Jerome Point on the east side of the entrance to St. Peter's canal from St. Peter's Bay (Atlantic Ocean) this lighthouse was established in 1883 but to my knowledge the present lighthouse was built in 1956. If you enjoy lighthouses and are traveling thru St. Peter's it is a short lovely ride into the Battery Provincial Park where you can park and visit the lighthouse site - although I believe the tower itself is closed.

The Blue Lobster - sounds like a Pub

© August '09  photo by smck

The lobster pound at Little Harbour keeps a fresh sea-water tank of unusual coloured lobsters and we gathered round to look and take a few pictures.  The blue one really stood out as being unusual and it truly is with an estimation of about one blue lobster in two million.  When  I checked the coloration out on Wikipedia they had commented about one being caught in New Hampshire in 2009 and another two off the coast of Prince Edward Island in 2011.  Well for sure one was caught in Cape Breton in 2009.  Just above the blue lobster, is an orange one, definitely alive, that looks like it has been cooked to a turn.