After three nights’ sleeping at Uncle Steve’s Place in Woody Point, we’d be moving on up the western coast to make our way over to the Great Northern Peninsula where we’d see icebergs and the historic French Shore. During our last morning at Ivy Crocker’s Granite Coffee Shop, I picked up my conversation with the lovely local server as she fed me coffee, toast, and home-made partridge berry preserves.
Woody Point, Gros Morne
Last Breakfast at the Granite Coffee Shop
June 22, 2015
“I’d be nervous all the time,” explains the sweet young server,
(can’t be more than twenty-two, eyebrow piercing twinkles a delicate blue, matches her eyes),
sharing a bit about her baby girl,
why she’ll stay put on Woody Point
where the closest traffic light is in Corner Brook,
Still in Woody Point in Gros Morne National Park, I awoke on Summer Solstice morn to a still sleeping village. My house mates had already dressed and made their way to the Granite Coffee Shop, the morning ritual for breakfast and the day’s itinerary. I savoured the stillness and solitude as I collected myself and the requisite supplies for a day of kayaking in Bonne Bay. I left “Uncle Steve’s Place,” our bed and breakfast, and ambled down the road, camera in hand, present to the awakening day, and promise held in the full rising sun.
Woody Point, Gros Morne
Early Sunday Summer Solstice Morn
June 21, 2015
A Bonne Bay full of Sun on this Sacred Sunday Summer Solstice morn.
Shhhh…the only sounds…
A choir of birds.
Robin singing, trilling, thrilling.
Black Crow cawing.
Red-winged Blackbird wooing.
Blood red blossoms about to burst forth on the front yard crab apple tree.
Water softly lapping on the stony shore.
Locals sitting on their front porch stoops,
smoking the day’s first cigarette.
The “from aways” laughter and chatter break the spell.
A few days after arriving home from Newfoundland, I read this piece from Brain Pickings featuring David Whyte’s monologue on the essence of belonging and what it means to come home to ourselves. In response I posted, “While I enjoyed meeting women on my recent trip, I really enjoyed befriending my creative self who wrote poems and a story, painted impressions, took photos, concocted recipes. A sweet encounter.” In this and subsequent posts, I’ll share some of what “we” did together.
This first vignette came as we visited the Discovery Centre in Woody Point and learned about the significance of Gros Morne National Park, one of the first UNESCO World Heritage sites, as “it was here that geologists proved the theory of plate tectonics. The Tablelands, a mountain of flat-topped rock of a kind usually found only deep in the earth’s mantle, is a truly awe-inspiring sight.” We also visited the lower level gallery to see fibre artists’ interpretations of the land, its history and people. A easy amble down the boardwalk in the Tablelands to the perfect sit spot within the rocks to make my first water colour sketch. The poem below, written on the painting’s border, emerged later that night.
I wrote last time about how my layover in Halifax, en route to a week touring Newfoundland, helped me recognize and claim it as my “heart place” for claiming and crossing thresholds. Newfoundland, the raison d’etre, my threshold-crossing birthday gift ]to myself, was a remarkable adventure, another one of those realized dreams, the seed of which first planted several years ago as I sat enthralled watching one of several TV commericials from Newfoundland-Labrador Tourism’s campaign. Beautiful ads showing rugged coastlines, hikers looking over cliff-faced fjords, the first European settlement in North America, ice bergs, fishing villages with lobster traps, cod stakes, dorries, and the multi-coloured saltbox houses perched on steep rocky landscapes and, too on the urban streets of St. John’s, its capital and North America’s oldest city. When I last visited Halifax, in the fall of 2012, to attend a movement workshop with one of my Halifax “sisters,” I spoke aloud my wish to visit The Rock one day.
Fast forward to this spring when the Canadian tour company Wild Women Expeditions sent an email announcing one space left in their July departure for their Newfoundland hiking-kayaking-art tour. Perfect. I hiked, kayaked once in the ponds outside of Halifax, and love the arts. Quick negotiations with The Scientist to rejig celebrations for our 35th anniversary, and I was booked. Then kismet worked on our behalf with space on a mid-June date, even more perfect.
So with the advice of friends who’ve visited the island, I flew into St. John’s for a few days, stayed in the historic Rendell-Shea Manor bed and breakfast, to see those iconic “Matchless Paint Company” houses, go to the province’s Craft Council shop and spend a day at The Rooms, the provincial gallery, museum and archives, and where I knew I’d enjoy a delicious meal in their café (a lesson learned travelling in Chicago, Vancouver, and Europe). The weather was perfect, as it poured buckets after I took photos of the houses, walked Duckworth and Water Streets, and headed over to the galleries, passing the Basilica. I got my delicious lunch – a seafood au gratin with roasted carrots, a smooth chardonnay, and warm sticky toffee pudding and cream for dessert. And for a bit of star quality, saw Mark Critch, from This Hour Has 22 Minutes, sitting across from me (much smaller in stature and younger than on TV.) The exhibitions were elegant and evocative: a retrospective of Newfoundland’s renowned Christopher Pratt, and my favourite, “Truth or Myth?,” vignettes from the gallery’s permanent collection, curated in response to questions of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians’ social, cultural and political identity. I was especially captivated by the corresponding Haiku-like poems by local actor-writer, Andy Jones.
From Corner Brook Viewpoint
After a couple of days, I was itching to get on with it, and boarded the provincial DRL bus for the “milk run” day trip across the province to Deer Lake, the tour rendezvous. Thinking this would be a great way to see the province, I did, even though the landscape was consistent, mile after mile, over ten hours, with spring green leaved trees, sparkling ponds, azure sky and billowy white clouds, interrupted only by the ten or so small town and gas station stops, and the Gander Airport. I’d been warned that Deer Lake isn’t much to see; fast food and Chinese buffets predominate the Trans Canada and hotels and bed and breakfasts cater to travellers “en route.” So I arranged with three women on the tour, each of whom was arriving a day early, to share a car rental and drive to Corner Brook for a few hours before meeting the other women and our guides. (Later, I’d affectionately name us “The Singlets”, in contrast to our companions, “The Quartet” of four close friends, and “The Two Sisters.”)
Woody Point, NL with Gros Morne in the background
By mid-Friday afternoon, our group set off, five each in pretty swanky vans driven by our mother-daughter guide-hosts, bound for Unesco World Heritage site, Gros Morne National Park, and the village of Woody Point, where we’d spend the next three days getting to know each other as we hiked, kayaked, visited local art and craft shops and enjoyed fine local food and hospitality.