Friday’s opening concert was a rousing success: the music was great—it was the first time I’d seen Jamie MacInnis and Paul MacNeil performing live together on bagpipes (their CD, Fosgail an Dorus (Open the Door), has long been one of my favourites) and that was only one of the many highlights of the evening. Moreover, the week-long camaraderie got off to a good start as I was able to chat, however briefly, with several of the folks I see only once a year at the festival, as well as with other local friends.
Saturday and Sunday each have two concerts, one at 14h and the other at 19h30; that doesn’t leave a lot of time for photos, but Saturday’s weather was sufficiently foul it didn’t much matter. The concert at St Matthew’s Church in Inverness was especially memorable for me as I got to hear Jeff Gosse, a young musician from the Toronto area (and a pupil of Sandy MacIntyre) whom I hadn’t heard in a few years. And I thoroughly enjoyed the great dance at West Mabou with Troy MacGillivray and Shane Cook, accompanied by Allan Dewar and Skip Holmes. After some serious wind on Saturday, that amazingly and fortunately had little impact on the leaves, Sunday arrived with some honest-to-goodness sun breaking through the still seriously grey (and earlier, rainy) skies.
I first made my way out the Rankinville Road and then up the Mull River Road, looking for and finding a lot of brilliant reds. The “first prize tree” on that road, seen here in 2007, was still there, but with rather more gold mixed in with the red this year. I found that many trees had not changed their colours at all or had only begun to change; it was clear that there were at least several days before the leaves would be at their peak—assuming no winds like those of Saturday were to resume. After returning to Mabou to partake of the fine (anticipated) Thanksgiving Dinner at the Mabou Parish Hall Sunday morning, I drove off towards St Anns for the Cape Breton Fiddlers’ Association concert in the afternoon.
Since I discovered it in 2007 following the resurfacing of Highway 252, which was accompanied by brush clearing while redoing the shoulders and replacing culverts, the mini look-off above the Mull River on Highway 252 has usually compelled me to stop whenever I drive by during the day—spring, summer or fall—for its fine views of the Mull River below and of Mabou Mountain and the Cape Mabou Highlands in the distance. This view from 2007 is much the superior photo given its more favourable skies and sun, but the photo above is not entirely without merit: even if the river here is steel grey rather than blue and the clouds’ shadows obscure the colours over large swaths of the landscape, it still conveys the state of the colours the day before Thanksgiving. Unfortunately, the filtered sun doesn’t do full justice to the reds that my eye could pick out, but at least there was some sun, a very welcome change indeed from the previous days!