Thursday, February 22, 2007

Newfoundland


St. Anthony in 1933


My mother's side of the family are Newfoundlanders, a/k/a Newfies. I spent many many summers in Newfoundland as I was growing up. I haven't been back there in 20 years, but maybe it is time for a visit. A lot of my cousins have moved away, as the work is a bit scarce there, but I still have several aunts and uncles scattered throughout the island.

I remember being there when I was small. My grandparents had 13 kids, so when I was there I was just one of a very large crowd. I played with my cousins (we played chicken with rocks.. I ended up with more than one good lump on my head), I wandered along the banks of the harbor and poked sticks at jelly fish. I wore my rubbers (boots... shaddup ya pervs) and waded through the brooks like any good tomboy would. I was dragged to nearby ponds and caught the cutest little trout with my cousins, which we would then take back to my grandmother who would cook them up (I wouldn't eat them, hated fish even then).

I remember the day the family decided to have a BBQ and a lobster feast. I refused to try the lobster, but I was fascinated with their long antenna things. I was collecting them up (don't ask me why, I was a kid.. kids do weird things). That is the day I was clogging through the house to the restroom, everyone was outdoors except one uncle and his friend, and they had been drinking. My uncle, apparently thinking I had been struck deaf, told his friend about something that, to me, was life changing. I pretended to be deaf.. and later asked my mother who confirmed what he said. Maybe I'll post about that another day.

I would giggle at my grandmother every time she would use butter on her knife to snag a soda biscuit from across the table.. I think she knew it amused me so she kept doing it. I learned to love hot tea with a lot of milk. I would whine whenever they had fish n'brews for dinner, but I think at this point I would be willing to give it another go. I went berry picking for Blackberries or Bakeapples, if we were there late enough in the season. To this day I crave those silly things.

One year my uncle took me out in his dory to an iceburg that had floated up into the harbor (harbour, I must remember I was in Canada then and put in the U). Iceburgs are hard as rocks, I tried scratching it but it was too hard, I couldn't mark it at all. I can see how those things could sink a ship. As we were rowing back in, the neighbor kid (the one that I had the HUGE crush on) was out rowing around in his boat and rowed up next to us. Definite crush material, that one was.



I remember the time I shared a twin bed with my new husband. We hadn't been married long... but sleeping in a twin bed with a person for a week would try the patience of a saint. But it wasn't all bad..... ;-)

That year we were up on Fishing Point (the point of land that overlooks the north Atlantic... the lighthouse was there) with my cousin and her husband. We were wandering around, just talking and having a good time, when lo and behold, out in the water were two humpback whales. Being from Oklahoma, seeing something like that is an amazing thing. I stood there with my back warming against my husband, watching the whales. That is one of my favorite memories. There was a photographer from National Geographic there, taking pictures of the whales.

Later we all jumped in our van (yes that van), and sat and talked as the sun went down. The nippers (mosquitoes to the uninitiated amongst us), they knew there was warm blood in that van, and they lined up along the windows daring us to come out. It was a bit frightening actually. I swore then that I would never ever complain about the mosquitoes in Oklahoma again. I haven't talked to that cousin in probably 18 years. I think it may be time to give her a call.

The last time I was there was when my grandfather died. My daughter wasn't quite 2 years old at the time. She swept them off their feet, as she has done to so many over the years. My grandmother, who had so many grand kids and great grand kids that I think she had trouble remember all of our names.. she adored the baby that my daughter was. I wish they could meet now. Actually, now that I think about it, my grandmother was a difficult woman and my daughter is definitely hard to get along with. Maybe my kid comes by it honestly after all. Maybe she's just channeling the cantankerous Newfoundlander.

Yeah. I'm thinking it is definitely time for a visit.

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6 comments:

Bikerbabenj said...

So when ya going?

And what was that secret you weren't supposed to hear? (I'm being nosey today for a change)

Odat said...

What nice memories!!! Me thinks tho, that getting hit in the head with those rocks then has affected you a lil today, eh?
I too want to know what your uncle and his friend were talking bout!(was it about the RIGHT way to put on rubbers?)
From a Spudhead,
Peace

heartinsanfrancisco said...

What an enchanting post! You really must go back again as soon as you can.

I don't really know much about Newfoundland besides loving the dogs by that name, and Annie Proulx's novels.

My whole family picked blackberries in the woods on Long Island when I was a child, but just the idea of eating berries from Newfoundland would make them even more special.

soubriquet said...

Yeah. Come on out with it, spill the beans...
"My uncle, apparently thinking I had been struck deaf, told his friend about something that, to me, was life changing. I pretended to be deaf.. and later asked my mother who confirmed what he said. Maybe I'll post about that another day."
Can't just leave us hanging.
Maybe you thought you were a real boy... and they hadn't told you?
Or maybe....?
Time to reveal all...

The CEO said...

I'm just gonna join the rest. Give it up. If I have to do the damn word verification, it's the least you could do.

Crankster said...

Beautiful memories. Thank you for sharing them!