This photo essay documents the autumnal colours I saw as I travelled around Cape Breton Island during and after the Celtic Colours International Festival. This year’s festival ran from 5–13 October; I arrived on 3 October and stayed on the week after it was over, leaving the Island in the afternoon of 19 October. Of late years, the lag between the Celtic Colours Festival and the peak fall colours is getting longer: though not as long as last year, very few trees had changed when I arrived and the fall colours approached their peak only on the last days I was in Cape Breton, after two thirds of October had passed and a week after the festival had ended. The great fall colours continued after I left Cape Breton Island; several of my Facebook friends posted numerous fine photos of the glory that is Cape Breton in the fall at the peak of the colours and some demonstrated a couple more very fine weather days for photography, which I was very sad to miss out on.
My impression is that the bright reds in most places were less prominent than usual this year, though they were by no means missing, as this essay will demonstrate; still, the overall hues were more oranges and yellows and limes and greens and browns and dark reds, rather than the vivid reds that so please my eye, though that may have a good deal to do with the grey weather and the fact that I left before the peak colour time had really arrived.
This essay’s photos show much more than trees and leaves, though there are certainly many of those: each photo was chosen to illustrate the fall colours in some way, if not of the trees and leaves, then of the grasses in fields and marshes and on the hillsides or the kelp on the coastal beaches. If I chose well, you should observe that the photo could only have been taken in the autumn, though sometimes the changes are subtle.
I did manage to get fall photos from all four of Cape Breton’s counties this year. While the eastern coasts of Cape Breton are the least colourful of its areas in the fall, since nearly all the trees are evergreens there, I did, however, have the pleasure of discovering a vantage point in the Louisbourg area that offered a fine panorama with not a few colours, though, alas, on a day with too little sun to brighten them up. I did drive much of the Cabot Trail, but I have no photos at all of it nor of any of northern Cape Breton this year, as the weather was rainy and the skies very grey the day I was there.
This year’s weather was generally not very great for photography, at least when I had enough leisure to be outside; while we did get a couple of days with some sunny breaks on those occasions, the weather was otherwise almost completely overcast and grey up until my last three days on the island, when it gradually began to improve, ending with a perfect day for photography on my last day on the Island. As a result, two-thirds of the photos in this essay are drawn from those last three days. I was surprised, when I got home, to find that, even though I had taken far fewer photos than in previous years, I nevertheless had a wealth of hard choices to make, which I chose to resolve by expanding the size of this essay, a luxury the new web page format affords. With sixty pages and two hundred sixty-four photos, this is by far the longest photo essay I have assembled to date; its length, together with a three-day power outage caused by Hurricane Sandy, several days away for American Thanksgiving, and five days for travelling in New England for music, have resulted in this essay being published much later than in previous years: even though it is no longer timely, I hope you will nevertheless enjoy the photos I have selected, some of which I suspect will be of places new to you, and that you will forgive my inclusion of photos from places that have already appeared in previous fall colours essays: revisiting “old friends”, both people and places, is one of the many joys of the festival.
Victor Maurice Faubert
2012 December 14
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Note 1: If you are unfamiliar with the place names mentioned in this essay, a list of map resources is given here. Of these, the best computer-readable map of Cape Breton Island that I currently know about is the Cape Breton Travel Map, produced by Destination Cape Breton and, thanks to their express written permission, available as a PDF file here; I strongly urge you to download it. This map scales nicely, allowing you to zoom in on an area of interest, has a very helpful place name index, and provides a level of detail, both of back roads and streams, that is quite good.
Note 2: See the description here for the notation I use for GPS (Global Positioning System) coördinates, which are those the camera captured when I took the photos. In some cases, the camera was apparently not ready to capture the GPS coördinates when I took certain of the photos; those photos have question marks in the coördinates.
Feedback on the photos and the accompanying commentary, including corrections, is always welcome; send it to the address in the footer below. All of the essays in this series are archived here.