Friday, July 23, 2010

Newfoundland: July 22, 2010

Cugina’s gift: a selection of Newfoundland treats: saltwater taffy, puffin poop (or moose droppings for some), various kisses (such as peanut butter) and the ever-handy liquor store bag.
It’s Vince who notices that the landscape has changed. There are more open spaces, smaller hills, fewer trees. Rocks dot the water, rising up like tiny islands, some barren and brown, some striped with colour. Others are tiny islands: they sport soft green moss and grass above their rocky surfaces. There are lots of grassy flatlands, all shades of green, and water holes, from small channels (tickles) to large ponds. Their springs or rivulets from and to the sea are hidden, so they look proudly self-sufficient. Low-lying bushes, with matching shades of green, and smaller evergreens line the seaside.
We leave the Barbour House cottages and head back to Newtown, the Venice of Newfoundland. On the road into town, there are three Inukshuks in the shape of a man, woman and child to welcome us. The village is a series of small islands connected by causeways. Fishing dories float on the channels, where lobster traps are piled high. The houses are mostly built along the tickles, red and yellow and white against the blue water. Each of the couples explores on our own. Vince and I walk past the theatre where we saw the show last night, out to the point, where we spy thick moss, green and orange in the water, and clumps of seaweed left pooled in small spaces. We walk out to St. Luke’s Anglican Church, where the graves are bent with time. It’s astonishing the number of children who have died in the late 1890’s and early 1900’s, whole families have been lost at days, weeks and months old. It’s ironic, considering what we experience later. The flowers are breathtaking: the roses with their heady scent; the blueberries, daisies, clover, lilacs still in full bloom, peonies and pansies. The people waves, say hello, stop to tell us a little something about their village.
We head for the ocean at Freel’s Harbour. We dip out toes into the cold water, just to say we have gone swimming in the North Atlantic. Cugina gets her picture taken with her popping out of the sunroof, though this time we’re not moving. This is the site of the real homestead for Random Passages, a movie I must watch so I can come back and tour the film set near Trinity.
As we pass each little cove and harbour on the road, we are astounded by their beauty once again. The rock formations are incredibly creative, most of the water is flat and calm today, and the tide has exposed the waving moss. Here and there, little currents pattern the sea and the sun is bright and warm today. Rita says it looks like diamonds on the water, and she is right.
[Sign on the road, at a B & B: We’ll bide yer”.]
Now whitish rock and lighter sand appear as the expanse of the Atlantic Ocean spreads before us. We cruise through Musgrave Harbour, the site of the plane crash that killed Dr. Sir Fredrick Banting, the co-discoverer of insulin. The deep red houses are most fascinating, as are the red fences that are numerous along the route. It’s hot and sunny, some dusty roads surprise us, but we enjoy the scenery as we ride along toward Twillingate.
Later in the afternoon, Cugina spies some signs for a lunch stop with fresh fish and lobster, so we pull into a little wharf. On the other side, facing the bay, are comfy picnic tables. We enjoy a beautiful lunch, sitting in the ocean breeze, the sun on our heads. It’s called Doyle Sansome’s & Sons Ltd. Just off Route 340 at Hillgrade, it’s worth the visit. Authentic fresh seafood (or other fare if you wish) and lobster pools to visit. Not to mention the view! There are lots of signs to point the way up Country Road to Sandsomes Place Road).
Now we leave New World Island and enter Twillingate Island. When we arrive in the town, we are at first puzzled by the number of vehicles parked around our B & B, then we surmise it’s because of the festival. But it’s not. We are right beside the church where a tragedy is being mourned.
Two little boys and two adults went out on a boat a few days from Twillingate. Somehow their boat overturned and they were tossed into the frigid Atlantic. That day, a family was lost: the boys were ten and twelve and their parents’ only children.
We watch as people stream from the church, dabbing at their eyes or unabashedly allowing the tears to flow. The hearse drives away, one casket with both little bodies, holding hands, friends forever. A seagull sails on the breeze near the hearse and Vince and I lose it.
It’s overwhelming to see an entire village grieve. Here everyone knows the family; everyone knew those little boys. Despite any differences, the whole town comes together in grief.
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