The sun was low, shadows were getting long behind the fish plant in Cap Egmont, P.E.I., when we stopped to stretch our legs and check out the view.
There were four of us out that day, Driver Mark and I were riding with Driver Harold and Cathy.
As we strolled along the wharf, I mused that I was working on a story about a 93-year-old fiddle player from the area and wondered if her homestead was nearby.
“Aunt Rita?” asked Cathy.
The woman I had interviewed was my friend’s great aunt.
After a few calls, we were on the road to find the site of the old farm.
“We turn left out of here and take a right. There’s just a barn left,” said Cathy.
This matched my information from Rita. She’s been living in New Brunswick for many years but visits the spot whenever she’s on the Island.
Well, there was more than one right-hand turn, but we found the correct road exactly as Rita had described it — built up at first, then turning to dirt.
At the start of the red clay was a field and, the barn.
The roof sloped almost to the ground on the near side. Shingles were weathered to silver-white. The other side was made up of doors on iron-forged hinges.
The entire structure was sinking into the soft ground as time wore on.
Stopping the bikes on the deserted road we climbed off and without discussing it, began exploring. We were timid at first, just peeking into the doorways and tiptoeing around the marshy grass outside.
Soon though, we were ducking in under the eaves, keen to see more of the lives that shaped the land we were on.
Driver Harold spotted some extra-wide boards, dating the barn to “really old.” I snapped some photos of a cart. The wheel-less box was resting in silt that had flooded into the open floor of the long-roofed lean-to.
Ironwork for a hay rake, a bobsleigh and hinges let us piece together the contents of the barn, resting after their life of hard work. As the light dimmed, the bugs came out, chasing the visitors away. We scampered back to the bikes and hastily pulled on helmets and gloves to escape the frenzy, leaving the barn resting quietly in the sunset.
Riding with friends
DM and I have travelled extensively with a core group of friends and we have a few of our own hand signals; the most often used is tapping the gas tank — this guarantees a stop at the next gas station.
Universal hand signals
(As described by this Backseat Rider — NOT approved by any safety board.)
- Right turn: Left arm forms a right angle (a cactus arm) with the hand up (I remember it because it’s like you’re pointing right, just over your head). I also use my right arm, since I’m not driving.
- Left turn: left arm straight out.
- Stop: left arm makes an upside-down cactus arm or any down motion with the left arm usually means stop or slow down.
- Bump in the road: a foot or hand pointing to the obstacle.
- Blinker is still on: a “talky hand" motion to mimic the blinking light (we see this often because the bike does not have self-cancelling signals).