In May 2011, after four years of life on McNutt's Island, we moved to Montreal. This blog remains, though, as a (sort of) daily record of our time on the island, and a winding path for anyone who would like to meander about among its magical places. For additional perspectives and insights I recommend Greg's book, Island Year: Finding Nova Scotia (2010), and my Bowl of Light (2012). I'll continue to post once in a while. If you do want to read this blog, one option would be to begin at the beginning of it (which is, as we all know, in blog-world, at the end), and read forward, concluding with the most recent entry. It's a journal, really, so it does makes more sense if you read it that way. But, you know, read it any way you like.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

A visit to the Horseshoe

The Horseshoe is a curved rock barrier that forms the northern arm of the island's western cove. On the late eighteenth century maps of the island it is named Carolina Beach.

You can easily see the Horseshoe when you arrive by boat from the mainland to the government wharf, as you will pass right by it. But getting there is another matter.

Take the path from the government wharf that leads east, toward the old McNutt cellar. Stay on the path, which has been recently cleared of fallen trees by the heroic McNutt's Island Road Crew, and so is spectacularly accessible. Eventually you go through an eerie stand of spruce, where the light barely filters in and you can glimpse the deep waters of the eastern channel on your right. Then you will come upon a kind of raggedy marsh, where a small flock of introverted sheep is usually grazing. They will run like mad and hide in the woods the minute they see you.
Cross the marsh toward the rock barrier and soon you'll find yourself walking along the Horsehoe. The barrier has two places where the rocks decline below the high tide level. So your trip out to the end of it and back needs to be well timed unless you don't mind wading through a fast rising tide on your return, or being marooned.

As you walk toward the Horseshoe you can see Sandy Point Lighthouse to the north, across Shelburne Harbour. Sandy Point Light was built in 1873 to guide ships into the inner harbour as they approached from the eastern channel. Honestly, this old fashioned lobster trap is exactly where we found it.
We were surprised to find a small low-growing pink flower in such a harsh environment.
Out at the end of the Horseshoe is a water-filled depression encircled and hidden by the rock barrier. It has a lot of algae in it this time of year and is likely formed by rainwater and by the wash of waves at high tide. A row of gulls stood guard along the ridge of this watery place and watched warily as we made our approach. You can see the outlines of Grey Island behind them. Beyond Grey Island lies the vast Atlantic.
The gulls nest here, along the edge of this depression, which can't be seen at all from the harbour. They probably chose this remote place long ago because they like their privacy. In fact they aren't visited very often during the nesting season, and their few visitors are very respectful. When we went out last week the baby gulls had already grown up into gawky adolescents, almost full size but not yet able to fly. They scrambled to the shore and into the water, where they floated, waiting out our intrusion.
Meanwhile the adults flew overhead to intimidate us. Which they did.

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