Continuing what has become an annual tradition, this essay presents selected photos I took before, during, and after the Celtic Colours 2009 festival. At the request of several people, I have, unlike previous years, interleaved an account of my time at the festival with descriptions of the photos, to provide a better feel for what attending the festival is like.
If you have ever wondered about the natural processes that explain why deciduous trees change colours in autumn, have a look at this Wikipedia article, which explains the complex phenomena behind these changes very well. This year’s colours were the most vivid I remember seeing on Cape Breton Island during the seven autumns I have attended the festival, even more so than those of the last two years, which set a very high standard; like last year, they were outstanding in just about every part of Cape Breton that I visited (and I was in more than 80% of the island at one time or another this fall), including many places that I have found considerably less brilliant in lesser years. There were reds aplenty, of all hues. And, unlike other years, most of the leaves were still on the trees and not far past their peak colours when I left, in spite of the beating they took in some pretty nasty blows during the festival. Alas, however, foul weather, by far the worst of any festival I have attended, prevented the sun from showing these great colours in their true glory, severely diminishing their impact.
I arrived in Cape Breton on 2 October and left on 20 October; it rained every day I was in Cape Breton, without exception. I even saw snow in Cape Breton this year, a first for me there! Most days, it didn’t rain all day long, but it did rain at least once every single day and often enough for a considerable part of the day. With very few exceptions (and those of very brief duration), blue skies were completely absent from my travels. The occasional sunny breaks that did make it through the heavy clouds at other times were nearly always fleeting and often produced at best filtered light. Consequently, I did not get very many good photos this trip nor did I get in much of the hiking I had planned to do, a situation which left me constantly frustrated. I normally take about 12G of photos during my fall trip, but this year I came back with only 3G (and half of those are not of scenery and hence not suitable for this essay). As a result, gentle reader, you are going to see in this essay what I saw during my stay—lots of grey and lots of clouds—simply because I don’t have any nicer photos I can use.
Fortunately, in spite of the awful weather, the festival was superb and that, along with great visits with the many friends I see only there, was enough to preserve my sanity. My primary reason for being in Cape Breton in the fall is, of course, the nearly non-stop music and this year’s festival certainly continued the tradition of superb concerts and wonderful camaraderie. As always, I had a great time, attending twelve concerts, four dances, several cèilidhs, and a couple of Red Shoe evening sessions. (And that doesn’t count the great music I heard both before the opening and after the close of the festival!) Friends invited me to a fine home-cooked dinner I will not soon forget, I enjoyed the great annual Thanksgiving dinner at the Mabou Community Hall, and I partook of a fine lobster dinner following a cèilidh in L’Ardoise, as well as enjoying the great dining available all over Cape Breton. There is never any lack of things to do at Celtic Colours, even when the weather is foul—indeed, the problem is the opposite: it’s simply impossible to take in all the fine events on offer at this time!
The photos in this essay appear in the order in which they were taken, except for the concluding one, which is presented out of sequence. I again have at least one photo from each of Cape Breton’s four counties, but the majority of the photos this year, as in previous years, are from Inverness County, where I spend much of my time during Celtic Colours. I do love travelling back roads and exploring off the beaten track. One of my discoveries this summer was the road connecting Dunakin and Miramichi, which runs along a ridge with good views of the Glencoe Mills area; I revisited that road a number of times this fall. I also explored the Sporting Mountain area west of St. Peters and arrived at Seaview and Oban for the first time ever; this is a beautiful area I definitely want to see again in better weather. This essay includes views from both of those areas and I hope you will find at least a few others that are new to you. Perhaps that will make up to some degree for the dull skies and muted colours otherwise so predominant in this essay.
Victor Maurice Faubert
2009 November 13