It was a beautiful but very hot day in Sydney on July 7. The temperature was hovering pretty close to the 30 degree mark. I spent most of the day in my air-conditioned office. I stepped outside at lunch time and as soon as the wall of warm air hit me, I knew that this day was going to end in another wonderful Cape Breton Beach Bum Adventure. I called Marcie and told her to have the baby ready after work so that we could head right out to the beach. We were going to go to Morien. At the last minute, we changed our minds and went to Main-a-dieu instead.
If you’ve been to Main-a-dieu beach, then you understand the amazing experience well. If you haven’t, you really should check out this beach. You can also check out the Big Wave Cafe if you get hungry. It’s so close, you can see the beach from the cafe. In response to my request on Facebook for favourite beaches, my friend Erin Columbus Doyle wrote the following:
There are a lot of reasons why I love this beach. Main ones are:
1. my grandfather was born in Main-a-Dieu and so it’s nice to feel a family connection to the area.
2. gorgeous sandy beach
3. ocean water
4. practically deserted any time I’ve been there. Loads of room to play on the beach or in the water.
When we arrived at the beach on this scorching day, we weren’t disappointed. The temperature was much cooler by the coast so we received instant relief as soon as we stepped out of the car. The beach is beautiful, as Erin describes. There is a long stretch of sand that splits up the beautifully rugged and rocky coastline of Main-a-dieu. Behind the beach, there is an expansive area of sand grass that is criss-crossed by a large network of boardwalks with numerous viewing platforms overlooking the Atlantic and a little rocky island out in the bay. And for some reason (and I’m definitely not complaining), there are never many people on this beach. On this day, we had it to ourselves for the first hour and then two teenage girls came to the beach just before we left and then they had it to themselves. We walked the beach with Bailey, picking up rocks of course. She was having a grand time throwing rocks into the water and walking in the waves.
After a while, I left Marcie and Bailey to experience this beach alone. I went down to the water and got ducked. The water was cold and refreshing – warm enough to duck and float for a bit but a tad too cold for a good swim. Then I went back into the waterline and sat on the sand. I was right at the point where the biggest waves were just reaching me, crawling up under my legs and gently tugging the sand back below me. I leaned back on my hands and took some nice deep breaths of fresh ocean air as I looked out over the bay. Fog was rolling in from Louisbourg – very slowly. The sunlight was playing with the fog and creating amazing visual effects. The bay was filled with seabirds. In close, were the big gulls – some floating and others soaring overhead. Out further, coming in and out of the fog like wispy spirits, were my favourite sea birds, northern gannets. I focused my attention on them. I watched them doing their acrobatics above the sea. Every once in a while, one would spy a fish and dive like a missile into the water. Beautifully efficient hunters. For a time, I was alone with the gannets. My spirit was soaring over the sea with them. The hot day wasted away and everything was perfect and relaxed in that beautiful meditative moment on the beach.
Solitude and spirit are easy to find on our beaches in Cape Breton. Main-a-dieu beach is perhaps one of the best places for this type of experience. Go there. But when you go, don’t bring a crowd. Don’t have a party. That’s what’s special about this place. It is relatively close to Sydney and Glace Bay. It is right in the heart of the village of Main-a-dieu. Yet it is a perfect place to find peace alone.
Until next time, I’m off on another Beach Bum Adventure!