Wednesday night’s very memorable concert at the Strathspey Place celebrated the Féis Mhàbu mentorship program in which established players meet younger players in house sessions to share their tunes and expertise. Again, there was no square dance following the concert, but the music and camaraderie at the Red Shoe Pub was a fine substitute, featuring Troy MacGillivray, Andrea Beaton, and Allan Dewar, three of their generation’s finest players. I had to stand outside in the cold and damp (along with a horde of others, many from the Boston area) for forty minutes before a seat became available inside, but it was definitely worth it!
Thursday morning was cold, damp, windy, and with huge grey clouds through which occasional rays of sun infrequently shone. Reports of snow in the Margarees were the talk of the breakfast tables at the Inn—snow during Celtic Colours is unheard of! I decided to go have a look for myself, as I had not yet made it to the Margaree Valley this trip. Shafts of sun caused me to stop just past the webcam below Hawley Hill on Highway 19 near Glenora Falls and grab a couple of photos of the Highlands; the colours had noticeably brightened overnight with considerably fewer greens than the day before in the same area. The sun disappeared shortly thereafter and the clouds thickened and got very grey; by the time I reached Inverness, the day was pretty ugly looking. I drove on nevertheless and found a couple of centimetres (an inch) of slush remaining on Highway 19 in Southwest Margaree—there had clearly been more earlier. It began misting, though it didn’t form an icy surface on the road as the temperature was a bit above freezing and the roads had been salted, but it didn’t look like I was going to even see the sights, let alone photograph them. There was even more slush on the roads in the Margaree Valley when I got there and headed off to one of my favourite spots there—the unofficial look-off on the shoulder of the West Big Intervale Road, a portion of the loop road that passes by the Fish Hatchery and over the bridge at Portree. I desultorily took a few photos of the mist and fog enveloping the mountains and was ready to leave when I noticed a streak of sunlight brightening a hillside across the Margaree River. I looked at the sky behind me and saw a goodly patch of blue with the sun at its edge. Very quickly thereafter, the sun lit up the scene which I captured in the photo above, showing the Margaree River down below, the mountains bordering the Aspy Fault at the left, and Sugarloaf Mountain at the right. In this photo, the colours are clearly more advanced, certainly at or even perhaps beyond their peak. I was shocked to notice how many of the trees here had been stripped bare by the winds—quite the contrast with the trees around Mabou! It is also very interesting to compare the view above with the photos from the 2006 essay here and from the 2007 essay here, both taken from this same look-off, though looking somewhat further to the left (north). No two years are ever the same!
Talk about being in the right place at the right time! Two minutes later it was misting along the mountains and faint rainbows were visible depending on where the sun was able to pierce the clouds that had quickly covered over the blue spot that made possible the light in the photo above. The views soon reverted to what I had seen when I arrived—dark mist-shrouded mountains and fog.