Leaving Pictou, we headed north west to Caribou Provincial Park, named so after the Woodland Caribou was hunted to extinction by the European settlers in 19th century. Naming and murder are intricately connected in civilisation: as Tawd explained to Ljuba, when we arrived in Memphis and were looking for Poplar Avenue, that it was the same as with Cedar Lane or Pine Heights, or other places named after trees, because all the poplars, cedars and pine have been cut down and their space has been occupied by plastic houses. The residents of these plastic boxes and naked spaces, I added, are highly dedicated to mowing grass and cutting down anything that might grow taller than 3 inches. Sadly, the caribou is facing the same fate elsewhere in Canada as well. Their abundance two centuries ago and extinction now confirms Petr Kropotkin’s study that species and individuals flourish through mutual aid and cooperation, whereas the capitalist notion of competition, private property, and the survival of the fittest introduced by European intrusion, annihilated most of the animate species and inanimate “resources” of the world.
Along the road, I noticed a man indulging in a peculiar activity: he chose one tree and was trimming it into a rounded shape. How much time of his life must he spend on battling nature and its desire to grow out to reach the skies? Why does a round tree appeal to him or his master more than the magnificence of the widely spread majestic branches of an old tree that whispers of timeless existence to the wind?
Finally, on day 7 of our trip, in Caribou Park, we see a bird:
And, another bird:
And, two more:
The park was empty. We spent a quiet time on the solitary beach – few cars; few lights. A long arm over the water led to a private neighbourhood on a peninsula that was locked with a “No tresspassing” sign.
In the evening, we ventured into New Glasgow – an industrial town known for the Maritime Steel and Foundries (that they admit is) Limited, founded on the estuary of East River where tides play with salt and fresh waters. We walked around then headed out, further east. Just then, as we found ourselves in the middle of nowhere, the winds grew strong and the skies sombre.
We stopped in a clearing near a wood and watched unfold a storm’s capricious magic. How tiny, incompetent and utterly foolish of the human being to have ever imagined to be able to conquer the skies. We huddled quietly and faced the heavens’ wrath. As the winds rocked the car, Ljuba fell asleep, nestled cosily in the sleeping bag. Sasha and I talked softly, then he dozed off, too, while I stayed awake and relished the lightning, listened to the roar of thunder, and towards dawn walked out to meet the warm embrace of a summer rain.
With the first rays of the sun, we all felt rejuvenated by the storm and surprisingly, both, energised and serene. We continued going east savouring the crisp freshness of the world awakening after a storm. The plan was to spend some time around the water, then find a tourist info bureau from which to send an e-mail message to Kathleen and Roback informing them that we’d be joining them in Halifax that night.
The morning road:
The morning stop for coffee and hygiene with a radio on and early morning visitors:
At the cross-roads, we veered left along Northumberland Strait on Shore Road. As it turned into Sunrise Trail, we came across Arisaig Sea Cliffs, a treasure of paleontological and paleo-geological discoveries and well made information sheets. These cliffs, we learnt, are the most continuously exposed sections of Silurian rock in North America and provide valuable information on life on Earth from 448 to 401 million years ago. The Silurian period, according to geologists, was marked by a global warming that gave birth to corals and tropical vegetation and life on the coasts of the Canadian Maritimes.
Walking through the Arisaig Provincial Park, I was trying to fathom the 47 millions of years of the history of this spot on earth that was revealed to us by the rocks.
Otherwise, the park was silent and empty – not a soul in the vicinity; the pine wood stretched its bare arms and was neither welcoming nor frightening, minding its own mysteries of life on earth.
Ljuba chose a trail that we followed through the wood and down to the water.
Playing hide and seek:
Near the waterfall, we met a Dutch family with a 3 year old son playing with stones in the river. They told us that they used to live in Nova Scotia and that they have found no place more beautiful than Cape Breton, so now that they have moved back to Holland, they spend their summers here and urged us to do the same. But Cape Breton, we thought would be too much for us right now.
My wild man gathering and tasting kelp on the shore.
While we were playing hide and seek with Ljuba, a sign appeared from the sea with an arrow pointing towards Ljuba’s hiding cave! Ljuba giggled and asked me to take a picture of the rock formation for remembrance.
Finally, we took the stairs back into the wood.
Back on the trail, Ljuba and Sasha walked ahead, while I decided to indulge in some forest raspberries, when suddenly I was attacked by wild bees. I shrieked with pain and surprise; then I yelped with pain and fear, finally, I ran screaming up the hill. By the time Sasha and Ljuba came back to find out what was happening to me, we heard the Dutch family slam the doors of their car and take off at full speed probably imagining that the wild Russian-Canadian kelp eater has attacked his Sudo-Russian-Canadian wife and that they better leave lest they be next on his meal-menu.
A theory in social psychology proposes an explanation to the general apathy exhibited by witnesses in public attacks, where people don’t bother to intervene and help someone in need because, apparently, each justifies his or her own inaction on the number of people present at the scene at the time, thinking that “someone else should do the helping; why should I bother”.
But the Dutch knew that there was no one else in the park. We had conversed together, so I wasn’t an abstract entity but a familiar face. Still they did not care to find out what has happened to me and whether I needed help or a phone call for help – probably, because, for some personal and superficial bias, they did not consider that I was worthy of their time.
In any case, I was saved from the bees by my two darlings. With lips sweet from wild raspberries and legs that felt like wood from the bee stings, I drove on towards Antigonish.
Continued in part 8