It’s funny but I’ve never thought very highly of the month of November. The weather gets colder (but rarely cold enough for lasting snow), days become shorter and the landscape appears gray with no leaves left on the trees. But a recent trip has given me a newfound respect for the 11th month on the calendar.
We were off to Parrsboro where my nine-year-old son Jaden was about to play in his first competitive hockey tournament. We were on the road early and the rising sun was casting a dazzling light across the Minas Basin and the many farmers’ fields along the way. We had the tunes playing and the scenic 50-minute drive seemed to pass by in no time.
After a nail-biter of a first game (winning by one goal) we had some time to kill before our next one. I had noticed on our way in that the tide was almost at its lowest point. So I decided to take Jaden and my daughter Lienna to First Beach and Parrsboro Harbour to show them just how low it could go. We took a few pictures by the fishing wharf and of the lighthouse off shore to capture the extreme change.
We had heard that the Fundy Geological Museum was open for the day as well, so we decided to stop in to take a look around. I was excited to show the kids all of the new exhibits featuring dinosaurs, fossils and prehistoric creatures that lived here millions of years ago.
The exhibits were very interactive and I looked forward to returning again in the summer when we could go on a guided beach tour with museum staff. Wasson’s Bluff nearby is known to be the site of one of the most significant dinosaur discoveries in North America.
Back to the rink for game two. It was even more intense than the first. We pulled off a second win in a shoot-out. Go Cobras!
The day was still young so while we were in the area we decided to head down to one of my favorite places for a hike. The beach at Partridge Island has one of the best panoramic views in Nova Scotia. The ‘island’ is actually a peninsula and is connected to the mainland by a narrow stretch of gravel beach.
A friend once told me that the Mi’kmaq used to refer to this area as Heaven – both for its beauty and for the gemstones and variety of rocks that could be found and used for tools.
The area was also believed to be the home of the legendary Glooscap’s grandmother. When the tide comes in twice a day you can see her cooking pot boil in the waters just off the beach. The kids and I were there just in time to see this cool phenomenon.
The first 30 metres of the three-km hike were the toughest part. We could feel the burn in our legs as we trudged up the steep hill. When the trail leveled out a bit we found ourselves walking along a crazy-steep embankment that undoubtedly led to a deadly drop-off straight to the bay. As long as we all stuck to the trail it was completely safe, but traveling with a spontaneous nine and six-year-old made me a bit nervous.
With many reminders about safety along the way we managed to get to the lookout tower at the end of the trail without incident. Being that it was November (with no leaves left on the trees) we had an extraordinary view of the water most of our way and we even saw a partridge. The funny thing is that it wasn’t until two days later that I realized the connection … we saw a partridge… on ‘Partridge Island.’ How cool!
My wife Sara joined us as we returned down the shore even earlier the next morning for game three. The sun was as brilliant as the day before but a touch of frost added an extra pizzazz to the drive. I couldn’t help but notice the many wild blueberry fields that added a splash of red to the landscape at this time of year.
A commanding third win secured our spot in the championship game scheduled for that afternoon. This left us with a few hours to fill. We decided to continue down the shore to the Port Greville Market to check out a few antiques. There were a couple of really neat old ships wheels I would have loved, but they were a little more than we could afford on this trip.
We nosed around the community a little bit – exploring a few side roads and stopping to get an exterior glimpse of the Age of Sail Centre’s new addition (the Centre was closed for the season). Returning back towards Parrsboro we came upon the Ward’s Falls hiking trail in Diligent River. I had always wanted to hike to Ward’s falls but wasn’t sure we had time to do it before we had to be back to the rink.
With some pleading from the kids we decided to see how far we could get before having to turn around and get back for the game. Because it was hunting season we took the precaution of gearing up with some bright articles of clothing first.
It seemed chillier in the woods than it had along the shore but the surroundings were a great distraction from the cold. The trail followed along a narrow valley with numerous bridges crisscrossing the stream along the way to the falls.
Halfway in, cold and hunger began to set in and I think the kids were beginning to regret their initial keenness to tackle the trail. We decided to stop for a picnic lunch to restore morale and realized that we just didn’t have time to make it to the falls and get back in time for the game.
I decided to run ahead to at least get a few photos of the falls for us all to share at home later. As I was running through the woods I realized that my bright article of clothing was the orange backpack that I had left with Sara and the kids for their lunch. I was hoping that the local hunters took Sunday off or at the very least had bad aim.
With a brisk walk back and a bit of a scramble in the dressing room we were back in time to win the championship game – in double sudden death overtime no less.
A leisurely drive back stopping at the Bass River General Store, antique shops in Great Village and picking up a couple of print’s from Andrew Meredith’s Art Studio completed a pretty spectacular weekend in November.
Devin Trefry is the marketing director of the Central Nova Tourism Association. He lives in Debert.