Heading out on the Old Sambro Road about twenty minutes out of Halifax, along the winding coastal road that hugs the ocean and passes through fishing communities like Herring Cove, Ketch Harbor, and Portuguese Cove you will eventually reach a small sign posted area to Duncan’s Cove. As soon as the weather warms, we head out to this rugged trail at the entrance to the Halifax harbor. A trail of huge boulders, granite cliffs and deep crevices, we have never walked the entire trail because we usually have little legs and dogs with us, who fade before the end, but each year we make it a little farther. The narrow, hidden path is nestled between a thick mass of scrub and wildflowers.
Everywhere we are flanked by wild roses that have already burst into splashes of shocking pink, their heady scent mixed with the smell of sea air. An almost instant calm washes over me, a special place that makes me feel connected to this land. The fireweeds are already blooming and their spikes of magenta petals bob on their delicate red stems in the cool breeze. Thick bushes of rare arctic blueberries, raspberries and blackberries line the path and we will return in the summer to feast on the fruit when it is ripe.
Today it is just my son and I, choosing to leave the beagles at home, so that we can stop on the way back in Herring Cove for ice cream. In the busy everyday life of a tween, with non-stop soccer activities and online everything else, this is our quiet time to reconnect. It gives me some small measure of satisfaction knowing we are in this wild place together and making sure that even just briefly we are conscious and mindful of where we are walking.
We stop to eat lunch on top of one of the giant boulders overlooking a colony of seals soaking up the weak sun on an outcrop of rocks in the ocean. Our lunch consists of ginger beer we made the week before, pickled fish and a fresh baguette we bought on the way and the last of the rose petal meringues. Hikers have left little stone statues on the rocks near the water’s edge. These Inuksuk’s are Inuit symbols of some one having been here before us. Although today we are the only one’s out here, the little statues remind us that others have discovered this piece of paradise close to the city. We collect our own assortment of pale grey stones, washed smooth by the sea, and build our own Inuksuk to join the others.
We continue walking higher up the trail, until we reach our favorite spot - a deep crevice in the rocks that runs down the side of a cliff. The waves forced through the narrow crevice, crash up the sides of the rocks and sound like thunder as they echo and boom far down below. We lie flat on our stomachs terrified to stand too close to the edge, our heads hanging over just slightly, watching the waves pound up the sides. On the walk back down the path, tucked away in the forest, an ephemeral beauty shows off her deeply veined pink and white puffed pouch, sitting proudly by herself atop a leafless stem is a Ladies Slipper. A native to northern climates, these little beauties from the orchid family are a rare find. We look around to see if we can see others, but today it is only she that has blossomed just for us.