Our premier has exhorted us to explore the Island this summer. Accordingly, we book a cottage in Fortune Cove on the Mill River and head up West for a Prince County adventure.
Where is Fortune Cove? A road map will tell you, but you won’t know anything about it until you actually visit. Why is it fortunate? Why is it a cove for that matter? Mill River empties into Cascumpec Bay ever so gradually and I don’t see how “cove” applies to this location. No matter! It’s a lovely community, full of surprises. For example, the shoreline is littered with granite boulders: “erratics” (from Quebec? Labrador?) nudged along by glaciers and left behind as the ice retreated, and now used by residents of the area as creative features of flowerbeds and lawns. Smooth, level, rock-free harrowed fields glow golden red in the afternoon sun, too good to be true, the envy of any farmer anywhere.
Since much of the coastline is a mere three or four metres above sea level, erosion is alive and well. Oyster shells are ubiquitous, and strips of white dried sea lettuce denote high water mark. We find black flinty sharp-edged rocks that, in a pinch, could be turned into tools and weapons. An osprey soars high in the sky while surveying his kingdom, while terns nonchalantly dive into the shallow seas for a fishy snack.
Anyone who wants to learn about an area probably likes to visit graveyards: my friends and I do anyway. We drive down unpaved Cemetery Road to a pioneer cemetery of unmarked graves honoring Acadian settlers. A few stones also denote Rowe of Newfoundland born 1776; O’Connor born 1853 (tombstone from Bouctouche); Keefe; McClellan… Further along the coast we seek out another pioneer cemetery—woops! The road ends in a potato field. Better ask directions. “Yes,” we’re told, “there’s a burial ground back there. It was a Basque settlement. Folks came out from the university a few years back and etc etc.” Can this be true? Does anyone know about it?
We spend time in O’Leary doing quality shopping at friendly stores (Co-op, Home Hardware, liquor) where people are covid-protection-ing it up like mad. Everyone is delighted to see new faces! So are we, and we buy stuff we don’t need just to make the shopkeepers happy.
Our excursion ends and we head home, stopping en route at the Richmond Dairy Bar. I feast on a clam burger: a dozen crunchy clam strips fall out of the bun every time I bite into it. So good! Prince County is the undisputed sovereign of homemade fast food.
Back in the Cove eating our own lettuce, radishes and rhubarb, we look around and admire the beauty of this place. It’s perfect. But the tomatoes are planted and the grass is mowed, so there’s no time to lose. “Hello, I’d like to rent a cottage tomorrow… yes, tomorrow. It’s available?… That sounds great. Okay, see you tomorrow!”