Vikings, Beothuk, Bogs and Fog


June 25, 2022, St. John’s-

L’Anse aux Meadows Along the northern tip of Newfoundland, there once lived at least three nations of people, who were lumped together by the Viking fishermen, upon their landing at Quirpon Island and the nearby mainland, and called Skraeling, after the term they used to describe the Inuit of Greenland. The term variously means “wearer of animal pelts”, “wearer of dried skins”, “barbarians” or even “weaklings”.

At first, the Vikings stayed on Quirpon and at the sight now known as L’Anse aux Meadows ,a corruption of the French L’Anse aux Medee, which means “Medea’s Cove”, after a ship Medea, of the French commercial fishing fleet that docked in what is now Gumper’s Bay, in the 16th and 17th Centuries. The Vikings first settled here in 990 A.D. and went back to Greenland in 1050. so their artifacts being here at all are an extra treasure. Whether they also went south to Cape Cod is still up for debate.

The above scene shows the boggy area that greeted the Vikings. They had to choose their steps very carefully. Visitors today have nice boardwalks on which to tread.

My first walk was on Harry Youden’s Trail. He was a fervent supporter of unearthing Viking relics in this area, which was one of his favourite places to walk and meditate.

The above sculpture was commissioned by UNESCO, when L’Anse aux Meadows was designated a World Heritage Site.

Below, one of several mementos left by Harry, creating both a personal and “Fae” ambiance.

Note the ventilation ducts. The Norse used them, and here’s why:

One of the few women in the settlement group was a sailor’s wife, who was also a sale maker. As she was not sewing sails all the time, she busied herself with creative projects, like this above.

I spoke for several minutes with the docent who portrayed this busy woman, as well as with the woodworking and cook docents. All of them emphasized the constant work that needed doing, twelve hours a day, seven days a week, in this novel environment. All of the settlers longed, constantly, for “home”-Greenland.

NEXT POST: The road to Deer Lake (with Gros Morne National Park along the way)



July 2, 2021- The couple felt certain that they would be safer jumping in a hole they had dug, for another purpose, than trying to outpace the wildfire that was engulfing their small village, in British Columbia’s Fraser Canyon. They did not figure on a collapsing live electric power pole. The pole fell directly into the hole and the pair were electrocuted.

There will be other horror stories, no doubt, as the fire which destroyed most of the village of Lytton continues its march through the canyon. British Columbia and Alberta have suffered as many wildfires as any given U.S. state, over the past twenty five years. The increase of heat and lack of moisture, throughout all four seasons, is indeed subjecting just about any temperate forest on the planet, along with many desert landscapes, to risk of wildfire. Add to these, the desperate slash and burn attacks on tropical forests by people encouraged to settle the regions, by their own governments-in a short-sighted effort to relieve urban overcrowding. and we are looking at destruction that will far outstrip any conflagration yet seen.

There are those who point out that ancient peoples, on all continents, used fire as a tool to clear scrub and naturally occurring debris. Those fires were carefully monitored, however, much like today’s controlled burns-which are set and extinguished, by forestry professionals, who are following the evidence of careful forest management practiced by the Algonquians of eastern North America, for example. Willy-nilly techniques were never part of the toolkit of the ancients, nor are they advocated by their descendants.

The extent to which the burning of fossil fuels is exacerbating the present rise in temperatures and destruction of habitat is open to debate. That does indicate, however, that the beginning of the process of building a technology, that is not dependent on fossil fuels, is in order. I get that people need time to wrap their heads around the changes that will come. There will need to be training and demonstrable proof that these new methods will bring about a mitigation of weather extremes. Some of that proof is already here: The country of Greenland, facing the loss of its icecaps, by 2050, is successfully using wind energy- even through the northern winter. There are far more people now, than there were when we transitioned from animal-led transportation to its motorized successor-and there was much resistance then. The five-fold increase in population, however, has been matched by an increase in the overall level of education, across the globe.

We can move on through the present crisis. We can reduce the number of Lyttons, Fort McMurrays, Paradise (CA)s, Yarnell Hills. If the human mind can conceive a technology, human ingenuity can construct it.



September 10, 2017, Prescott-

I called my mother, to wish her a Happy Birthday.

She, to whom I was made to listen, for the first part of my life,

can now barely hear me, even when I am in full voice.

I pray her life will go on, for quite a few years yet,

and I will rely on the written word, to stay in contact.

The beaches of the Leeward Islands,

and the Florida Keys,

have taken quite a beating.

The emerging forests of Greenland,

just now rising from the Ice Cap,

are ablaze,

before they can even reproduce.

Disney World is closed,

and the lakes of The Villages

resemble mini-seas.

The Mediterranean, meanwhile,

is a lake surrounded by fire.

It’s being said that the Feds

are probing the ionosphere,

and that this may aggravate

climate change,

by pushing air currents

down into the stratosphere.

Meanwhile, we still

have relatively scant knowledge,

of our ocean depths.

These things cross my consciousness,

as I ponder whether

to go back outside,

and clear more weeds.