…or What I Did On My Late Summer Vacation, Part One.
At the end of August I loaded up my little car with camping gear and took the ferry to Newfoundland. The original plan had been to get dropped on some remote island in Hall’s Bay and meditate on life but once I connected with family, I decided I’d rather spend time with them than be alone.
My brother recently acquired my Grandfather’s old fishing stage and towed it over to where we used to play in the shallows at low tide when we were kids visiting our Grandparents. The stage is the little ochre coloured building in the following photo. It is somewhere between 120 and 150 years old.
My intention was to camp in my Grandmother’s potato garden which has been abandoned since not long after they put the road through in the 1970’s. So bro’ and I arrived after lunch with a whipper snipper and schlepped my gear down over the steep bank by the road. Whoa Nellie: the nettles! I’m pretty hardy but I draw the line at camping in a field of stinging nettles, mowed or not. So I wound up having a sleepover in the stage with Pete instead.
A stage was never intended to serve as accomodation; it was essentially a place where cod was gutted, split and salted down. (The process was known as “making fish”) There was a hole in the floor through which the gurry was sluiced with pails of salt water and the floorboards had wide gaps to improve aeration and cleaning. When I was a kid it had the sweet sickly smell of rotting fishguts. Thankfully it had fifty years to air out. And miraculously the mosquitos had the night off (the walls are also full of cracks and holes). The view from the little wharf was beautiful and held many memories:
In the last picture, if you look closely, you can see my little yellow car with kayak parked at someone’s dock. A fellow came up to me while I was there and said “I heard ‘dere was a car over here with a banana on top and I ‘ad to come look!” (Later in my trip some kids passed by and shouted at me “Haha! Bananamobile!”)
We dined al fresco with a view of the nettle filled p’tatey patch. I was surprised to find that Granny’s rhubarb was still growing after all these years of inattention. Rhubarb and cockroaches will outlive the human race!
We reminisced about our childhood visits long into the night. Pete wound the clock….
….and I laid out my bedroll and we talked until the moon came up over Otter Island. This month’s moon was a ‘sturgeon’ moon and a ‘supermoon’ and a ‘blue’ moon. That’s a lot for one moon to live up to.
With only the sound of the clock breaking the deep silence we finally gave in and went to sleep. Then at two in the morning we were rattled out of our slumber by the harsh bell of the old wind-up clock. What the……? It stopped just as abrubtly on its own. When we investigated we found that the alarm had not been set and even if it had been turned on it should have gone off at 6:30. We wondered what message our ancestors were trying to send as we settled back in for the night.
Stay tuned for more of my Newfoundland adventures.
© Judy Parsons 2023