I did a little shorty beach vacation so that I could come home in time to… go to the beach! Each of the Highland and Scottish Festivals in which Connor plays has it’s own charms. On the upside, Kincardine has a very tight competition circle surrounded by bleachers under some giant century-old trees. On the downside, there’s no place for a traditional massed bands so they gather at the T of an intersection on the perimeter of the park. You are closer, all around, to the bands, even if you can’t see them all in the way you can at, say, Georgetown.
At Kincardine, if there’s a big gap between the opening call and the time Child’s band plays, I weave through the vendors, I watch the highland dancers, and eventually, I go to the beach. Along the way, there’s a monument to the Phantom Piper. According to legend, way, waaaay back in the 1800’s, a small boat left Goderich and got lost in a storm. The father was afraid that the boat was not going to make it to port, so he started to play a lament on his bagpipes. Another piper on land heard, and played a lament in return. The captain of the boat was able to safely get to port using the drone of the land-based pipes as his guide. For the last 20+ years, a piper from the Kincardine Scottish Pipe band has played from the top of the lighthouse at dusk during the summer to celebrate lives saved courtesy of a single bagpiper. I’m never there on the right day nor late enough to hear the Phantom Piper, as we check out of town right after the massed bands are done. But I pass the monument every year.
The beach in Kincardine is relatively short and there is a memorial boardwalk along the whole length of it. It’s meaningful no matter which path you choose. The pebbles on the beach are multi-coloured, which makes it difficult to find glass, but it is still a nice walk. On my usual haunt in Steeltown, the sun sets over the land. On Lake Huron, Kincardine sits on the east coast, so the sun sets over the water, which is great for the view but adds an additional layer of difficulty finding glass in the glare.
After the pipes and drums and the water, the final gift of my trips to Kincardine are the acres and acres of wind turbines as far as I can see north and south. The graceful spin of the giant tapering blades on dozens of windmills is both a lovely welcome and a lovely farewell to that region.
I’m almost half way on my Beach Challenge. I like that I’m not just burning through beaches to get the checkmark. I’m enjoying them on each of their merits. The goal is to just enjoy my life more, and I’ve had decent success at that.
In an interesting bit of happenstance, the internets served me up a quote from Cervantes, today: “Until death, it is all life”