Here we are heading into the half-way point of our the last full fall month of 2018. R.E.D. has been fully winterized and sits within view from our back door. There have already been a couple of frisky rain/wind storms pass through and her ingloo structure has held fast.
We are now focusing on chores around the yard, clearing out the garden and putting things away for the months to come. If this year’s Farmers Almanac is correct it should be another mild winter for us on the east coast but Mother Nature could have a few surprises for us up her unpredictable sleeves.
Francois has been busy clearing out ‘the wild’ that grows up during the summer and Duck Pond now looks much cleaner and fully replenished after the rains. We are seeing our little bird friends return so he has stepped-up feeding too, taking care of his ever-growing family.
Each season seems to bring more varieties. To date we’ve identified over a dozen species, two different types of ducks, three sorts of woodpeckers.
One of the ‘Girls’
The crows are now a morning fixture, usually three on the ground and one keeping watch in the nearby tree.
Furry friends like chipmunks are less common now, but the red squirrels have become much bolder house guests.
Duck Pond saw three different families of ducks come and go this summer. Our favourite, Maude and Harold produced seven duckings and we watched them grow and depart. For some reason, word has spread and we can’t be in the yard without a grand parade.
Ducks on Parade
The other day I sat on the deck step and these ‘quackers’ came waddling up within a foot of where I sat. They seem to recognize our voices now and when we return home in the car they wander up the hill to greet us.
The new couple on the block is this Mallard pair. We’re calling them Méli and Mélo….our ‘miscellany’ couple.
A Box Full of Jays
To make winter feeding easier Francois made these toppers for my two plant boxes making the feeding frenzy each morning so entertaining.
Duck on the Deck
Even though we aren’t really supposed to feed the ducks it’s impossible to keep them away. Our winters are usually mild and as we noticed last year they stayed all season so maybe including them isn’t such a bad thing.
They now have their own feeding trough down by Duck Pond…because my dear ‘birdman’ loves the company when he’s out clearing the yard.
Duck in a Box
But when the trough is empty they have no problem finding more options.
Like Herding Cats
Discipling a duck isn’t an easy task we’ve found.
What have we done? Fortunately they are learning to share and within a short period of adjustment our backyard menagery was back in balance.
Post Script: since I started writing this post we’ve had to remove the toppers for the planters after the smaller birds have finished dining because our duck friends have become too bold…and abundant…at times almost two dozen. They will have to make do with plant life from the pond and garden slugs and from time to time a sprinkling of cracked corn.
Thanks for stopping by. There will be more news to come from our home by the sea as we head farther into fall and the blustery winter months to come.
For those reading our story in a language other than English, please forgive the auto-translate.
It’s usually a very sad time of year, putting our dear R.E.D. to bed for the long winter months but this year we are at least a month later than usual to pull her from the water and it felt right…and kind of fun..with an energy we haven’t found in past years.
Hooking Up HIS Trailer
Maybe it’s because we had a much longer season, or maybe it could be that we now have a special place right in our own yard and the process is so much easier. There was no going back and forth through all of that depressing congested Montreal traffic.
She spent her summer here, just six kilometres from our home, at a small co-op-type club. It meant just one trip too. Trailer hooked up to the tow beast and within a few minutes we were ready for our annual ritual.
First, a chilly outing on the bay to empty her belly of salt water.
Winterizing MY Engine
Next, Francois put the motor through it’s winterizing paces.
Installing Mast Extension
The mast extension makes for a much better shape when tarping.
R.E.D. waited patiently at the service dock while the trailer was brought to the loading ramp
Then came the offical haul-out. So easy for two of us to handle, all completed with no incident.
Power wash came next before all the accumulated ‘yuck’ from a summer in the water had dried. Demasting with all of the lines secured and we were ready to head for home.
This year’s tarp skeleton is Francois’ best creation to date. It makes the job so much easier too when there is a small hardware store down at the corner to buy extra tie wraps and PVC piping.
Even covering and threading the lines under R.E.D.’s belly seemed less of a chore this year.
All liquids and other essentials removed from the cabin and lines flushed through with anti-freeze, she will rest all cozy and ready for whatever winter storms will throw our way.
For those who prefer to read our story in a language other than English, please forgive the automatic translation.
You know you are living in paradise when you struggle with the idea of going away on vacation….but we did….for five days!
In our past life we would have thought five days was not nearly enough….one week either….two weeks minimum would have been needed to re-balance and re-set our stress levels. Now five days seemed like too much…but we did it.
Fall in Nova Scotia is really the best season. The air is fresher with a slight chill and the changing colours bring ‘leaf peepers’ by the bus load.
We had a couple of reasons to take a break from R.E.D. by the Sea. Francois had never travelled the Cabot Trail and neither of us had visited Fort Louisbourg. Next year the plan is to trailer R.E.D. to sail the Bras d’Or Lakes so we wanted to scope out marina locations in advance. And what better time to visit than Nova Scotia’s best season.
We were not disappointed!
Peace by Chocolate
I had made a wish list of things to see, one of which was a stop in Antigonish to visit Peace by Chocolate. You can read all about this heart-warming success story here. What better way to support a local business than to purchase their delicious chocolates for gifting.
On the Road
It was difficult not to stop at every fence post to take pictures of the stunning colours but we resisted. There would be many more ahead of us.
Bilingualism in the Highlands
Many of the signs in Cape Breton are bilingual. English/Gaelic, because of a large Celtic population and English/French because of many French speaking communities as well.
Free range critters were abundant along the way, both wild and domestic.
Iron Art and Photography
Cape Breton is also rich with artisans and very talented unique crafters. We stopped at a few looking for that perfect souvenir.
Room with a View
I had just one criterion for choosing our accomodations while away: a room with a view. Each one a vista of colour and salt water.
The route was a series of nail biting curves ( at least for me the acrophobically challenged) with hair pin turns that wound through the highlands.
From time to time we would encounter those less fearful. Sitings of extreme sports enthusiasts on road skiis and bicycles careening down the steep inclines were frequent.
Fog on the Water
When visiting the Cabot Trail, viewing in perfect weather is 50/50….a toss of the dice. Sometimes you could be socked in with fog, sometimes clear blue skies all the way. Throughout our five days we were lucky to have a mixture of sun, rain and fog which made for some interesting photography.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a variety of colours. So many shades of reds, oranges and yellows intermingled with the eternal greens.
The hills were definitely alive with the energy of the season.
No matter where you are in Nova Scotia you are never more than sixty-seven kilometres from the ocean and because it draws us like a magnet, we always seem to gravitate toward the shore.
Ingonish Beach was a must see stopping point with waves crashing the shore.
Side trips of hiking trails were the perfect way to stop, take a break, breathe in the salt air and get a little exercise. Some of the trails were closed though because, as the agent at the park entrance said, some tourists had upset the wildlife and the moose were retaliating.
Force of Nature
North Shore Lobster Season
Our route took us along the Mira River and Marion Bridge bringing back memories Anne Murray and her “Song for the Mira”.
Out on the Mira
Red Chair Initiative
Our final stop was Fort Louisbourg, a Parks Canada site. Along the road toward the entrance were the two iconic red chairs placed in so many Parks Canada locations across the country.
“Whether it’s a place to rest after a leisurely stroll or to cheer your successful completion of a strenuous hike, the red chairs offer a place to slow down, to relax and to truly discover the best that Parks Canada has to offer.”
Louisbourg Harbour was once a lake but with the rising waters it is now officially the entrance into the town of Louisbourg.
Prelude to Peace
I won’t go into details here but if interested you can read more about the very interesting history of the fort here
We pretty much had the place to ourselves. One of the guides gave us a personal tour with tons of information about the fort’s history and their plans for future changes. He was also an exceptional photographer proudly showing us images he had taken during special events at the fort.
There were moments of silliness with Francois chanelling his inner Harry Potter…muggle!
French Kitchen Garden
We couldn’t leave without walking along the rocky shore past the fort to search for bits of unique driftwood.
Our last supper and last night in Cape Breton was spent with Brenden and Nathan, owner and chef of a charming restaurant in Louisbourg. Actually it was the only restaurant open, as being a mainly tourist town, many businesses had closed for the season. Even if there had been other dining options it would have been sad to miss this experience.
The decor was quirky with old doors fronting the bar, rough barn board cladding the walls, interesting local art lining the walls and Brenden was so entertaining. We sank into comfy leather chairs in what Brenden called his living room and sipped a glass of chilled local wine while Nathan threw together for us the most delicious fish stew with homemade biscuits.
Final on my must visit list was a stop at the much photographed beach, Melmerby, then we headed back to our dear R.E.D. by the Sea, loaded with treasures and so many great memories.
So there you have it, another adventure completed for the crew of three: Captain Francois, Communication Officer and Galley Kat, and First Mate Major Pig.
We weren’t totally distracted by the Cape Breton beauty and hospitality though and did find the perfect location to launch R.E.D. into the waters of the Bras d’Or Lakes next year.
Bras d’Or Lake
For those who prefer to read our story in French, please forgive the automatic translation