Memories of Cape Breton

July 8, 2009

My family moved from Cape Breton to the mainland when I was a tiny tot but there is, and always will be a part of me that ever longs to be home. Its indefinable lure rests in my very heart and soul. As young adults my sister and I frequented the Island quite often. We waited impatiently during the hot summer months for the end of the working week. My longing was not for a rest away from work but for a chance to set foot on Cape Breton soil again.

Our first stop was always at Judique Hall. There we danced from the time the bow was put to the fiddle until well after the last note resounded off the walls. If by chance one decided to sit out a set, the time was well spent listening and watching Buddy MacMaster create the greatest music I will ever hear. Half the enjoyment came in seeing him literally lift from the chair with the enthusiastic music encompassing him. His feet dancing a wild tattoo keeping the audience captivated.

Of all the memories I’m happy to share with you my fondest one is of the sea at night after a fun filled night of square dancing. The lobster traps are pulled in and emptied. They are left sitting on the sand with the waves lapping at their edges.

The soft warm sea breezes carry the lilting sound of a violin from the boat house, its sweet tone caressing my ears. The dark sea stretching out before me on that starlit night, spinning its magic, won my heart for ever.
There is, and always will be a part of me that ever longs to be near the sea. Spirit, heart, and soul are caught and enhanced, with every changing flow of tide. It’s mystery intrigues my mind. No one born near the sea is ever left untouched.

The power, and awesome force of large waves cresting, crashing, bring with it the sweet soft aftermath of water caressing the golden silver sands as it rushes back to the sea. Its whispering, voice fading into the distance. Soothing our tired minds like a lullaby soothes a new born child. Fishermen, fully alive and awake with the first sign of dawn hasten to the call. Checking their nets, they heart warming shout to one another. Age holds no one hostage. These men, some of them in their seventh decade, live for the time they spend aboard their well kept boats.

This is the same work their fathers did, and their father’s father. It is a way of life to be admired. Hard working, honest, strong men, they are. The sound, the smell of the sea, is like balm to their spirits. It is in their blood.
Danger is their constant shadow. Quiet one moment, the sea can erupt into a swelling, angry, forceful demon with little or no warning. It is to be looked at, listened to, and enjoyed. But most of all it is to be respected.
Magnificent, forceful and haunting, the sea is home to many, and many are at home only on the sea; its call ever tugging at their hearts like little tug boats bringing tall ships to home port in a safe harbor.

Who can forget the sight, sound, and feel of its magnificence? The many fishing boats with busy occupants scoop their living from these living waters. I remember peering through a mist rolling across the sea, the horizon looking like a dark island in the distance. Playful fish leapt high, frolicking in the spray.

The morning mist, the thundering, crashing waves breaking on white silver sands cannot be forgotten. The water rising, cresting falling, hesitating, and then quickly rushing back to the sea as if it were afraid, only to come thundering back again. These are sights and sounds that will always call to my heart.

Have you ever felt the hot shifting sands beneath your feet and the refreshing sea spray on your face? Watching little sun beams dance, never tiring, skipping gaily across the ever changing surface of the sea, lighting on brightly gleaming colored sails bobbing too and fro. The scantly dressed passengers in these little boats, with the sun on their face and the wind in their hair delight in the sound and feel of the waves swelling and settling under them; the sea, a living, moving mirror.

All of these memories I’m happy to share with you, but my fondest one is of the sea at night. The lobster traps are pulled in and emptied. They are left sitting on the sand with the water lapping at their edges while happy friends feed on hot lobster fresh from the pot.

Others, still not tired from dancing to the lively tunes of Buddy MacMaster, dance a set in the boat house. The soft warm sea breeze carries the lilting sound of a violin, its sweet tone caressing my ears. The dark sea stretching out before me on that starlit night, spinning its magic, won my heart for ever.

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