Resilience

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September 25, 2022- The image stays in my mind, of the effervescent couple, greeting everyone cheerfully at their lakeside restaurant, in the village of Bras d’Or, Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia. Then, there were the hardworking Miqmaq people, across the lake, in Eskasoni, their workshops and tool sheds, so vital a part of their community life. Across the strait, in the southwest corner of Newfoundland, the people of Channel-Port aux Basques greet hundreds of visitors each day, during the summer months and send off equally as many, who are at the end of their visits. Nearby, in the village of Doyles, are the cabins along the Codroy River, providing quality accommodations, in a supremely rustic setting. At the northwestern tip of the island, the communities around L’Anse aux Meadows hold their own, in a climate that is already severe, nine months of the year. On the Burin Peninsula, in southeast Newfoundland, a well-kept series of gardens form the centerpiece of an exquisite Bed and Breakfast establishment, honouring its late founder.

These communities, as well as Prince Edward Island and much of New Brunswick, mainland Nova Scotia and eastern Quebec, suffered immense damage from Hurricane Fiona, the same storm that blasted Puerto Rico and several other Caribbean islands, earlier this month. I spoke with the proprietor of a motel, in an area that was spared damage this weekend. She said that much of Cape Breton and the Chignecto/Bay of Fundy region to the west of the island will be in extended recovery mode, for quite some months to come. The area has winter to keep in mind as well.

Many of us are used to thinking of tropical islands and forested lands of the north, in terms of vacations and scenery. Now, we are, more and more, coming to see the entirety of life in those communities. Every location that provides others with rest and relaxation, has its own human communities, whose members have needs, aspirations and dreams of their own. Let us stay in contact with those friends in the affected areas, and encourage their resilience as best we can.

I know that the Caribbean, Alaska and Atlantic Canada, like all places affected by disaster, will rise again.

Breakfast of Champions and A Long Ride

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June 27, 2022, Channel- Port aux Basques, NL- I was warmly welcomed this morning, into the main house of Abbie’s Garden, and directed to sit in a place by myself at a well-set table. The arrangement, of each party being seated separately, apparently is a Newfoundland tradition, derived from the British Isles. Having not been anywhere in that archipelago, other than London, this is new to me. It was very pleasant, though, as the host took egg orders, poured beverages and proudly presented a superbly-plated hot breakfast of eggs, crisp bacon, pancakes and fresh biscuits. Condiments were in serving vessels, not in their store containers. Juice (orange, in my case) was the last item presented. My maternal grandmother would be very pleased.

Prior to breakfast, I went around the garden and over to the chicken coop, where the flock, still inside the predator-proof coop, came to the netting and greeted me. All the little beaks were at the wire netting, clucking or peeping away.

Here are some scenes of Abbie’s Garden. First, here is The Loft, where I spent the night.

Upon bidding a fond farewell to the family at Abbie’s, I resolved to check out some spots along the road in the Burin Peninsula. Here are a few of these.

About an hour after leaving the Burin, I came upon Joey’s Lookout, named after Joseph R. Smallwood, the first Provincial Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador. The place overlooks his home town of Gambo.

As dinner hour approached, I was at a park overlooking the Humber River, just outside Deer Lake. A few other picnickers were at the lone table, so I took a bench and watched a lone fly fisherman, in the river, with his hip waders on.

As I got closer to this port city, the grandeur of the Long Range Mountains made itself known again.

Once settled in my room, at Hotel Port aux Basques, the chatter and antics of a group of teens caught my attention. They were likely enjoying the first days of summer, as school just let out in Newfoundland, last Friday. This is part of the park where they were hanging out. No, I did not photograph the group!

The long drive was not so bad. Tomorrow, I bid farewell to this consummately civilized people and their salubrious island.

Abbie’s, and Pippy’s, Gardens

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June 26, 2022, Grand Bank, NL-

The scenes went from jaw-dropping to heart-warming, as the day was spent traversing a more sublimely lovely part of this island. After a packaged breakfast, indicative of the ongoing seriousness with which the Canadian government still takes the pandemic-with considerable merit, I bid farewell to Memorial University, and went-across the street, to Pippy Park. This large and ecologically rich urban park was established by the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador, in 1966, and named for one of its prime boosters: Chesley A. Pippy, a St. John’s businessman and philanthropist. I focused on the area of the park around Long Pond. Here are some scenes.

Seeing a family go to this area and examine the plants, with the children playing some of these instruments, I naturally went there, after they had left and was delighted to see what is being done, in the name of autism research. The autistic children with whom I have worked love tending gardens and are comforted by soft vibrational sounds, as am I.

Returning to the parking lot, via the South Shore of Long Pond Loop, I picked up a snack of potato wedges, from an Irish gentleman, who proudly told me of his progress in curbing his smoking habit. Congratulating him and commiserating, just a bit. with his plaint that the day was too hot (I told him I was from Arizona, which gave him pause in bemoaning the 70-degree heat), I said his taters were mighty tasty.

I next made a brief drive over to the Fort Amherst area, near the south bank of St. John’s Harbour. From here, are views of Cabot Tower, on Signal Hill and of the confluence of the Harbour with the Atlantic Ocean.

Of course, more time is warranted in St. John’s. I sense there will be an Avalon and Burin-centric visit back to the island, in two or three years, along with everything else. For today, though, it was time to head over to the Burin Peninsula, three hours away and settle in for the night at Abbie’s Garden Bed and Breakfast.

I arrived here around 5:45, was warmly greeted by Abbie’s widower, his second wife and his daughter, who is the proprietress of her mother’s Garden. My room, in a lovely house called The Loft, has all the comforts of home, including a thick Newfoundland comforter. The gardens, which I will photograph tomorrow morning, are indeed Abbie’s legacy. The houses and the trails are the work of her husband, Bruce. Their daughter has maintained and built on this legacy.

I enjoyed a fine meal in town, at Copper Kettle. A finer lobster and bacon wrap has never been had by man. This, after being followed by a utility worker, who the waitress at Copper Kettle says is a self-appointed pair of eyes for the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary, until I pulled into the restaurant’s parking lot. I guess they don’t see too many vehicles with Arizona plates around here. For my part, I saw a vehicle with St. Pierre and Miquelon plates, which makes sense, as the French territory is a short set of nautical miles off the Burin. Marystown, the Burin’s commercial hub, is “town” for the St. Pierrois, and their “mainland” neighbours.

After a lovely time relaxing around Bruce’s firepit, and enjoying some of his homemade rhubarb pie, it is time to go up and crawl under that comforter. Thanks, Abbie, for all you did.