Seeing Newfoundland in Six Vignettes
by Katharine Weinmann | December 7, 2015
Table Lands, Gros Morne
The vastness of this Island’s spirit,
holding the Earth’s very own heart
exposed to all the elements.
A paradox of deep beauty, magnificence and awe,
with a cutting desperation for survival.
A people who, fierce and proud –
despite what we mainlanders think –
know what matters.
Woody Point, Gros Morne
Early Sunday Summer Solstice Morn
A Bonne Bay full of Sun on this Sacred Sunday Summer Solstice morn.
Shhhh…the only sounds…
A choir of birds.
Robin singing, thrilling, trilling.
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.
I stand on yet another threshold
looking for the middle way.
Norris Point, Gros Morne
Our Summer Solstice Prayer
Intention held in the hearts and minds of twelve women
wild to witness the whale,
grand dame of our species.
A blow…once, twice
seen along the rock and tree faced cliff.
Colour full kayaks skim the surface,
Carry us Home.
Our hands drum the chant of welcome,
Invoking her wisdom, calling her in.
A tail sighted…once, twice
breaking though the glassy sea.
A sudden breach.
Our collective Heart leaps with the closeness of her show.
A prayer received and delivered.
Woody Point, Gros Morne
Last Breakfast at the Granite Coffee Shop
“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,
so Adrianna can run
Western Brook Pond, Gros Morne
That long awaited landscape.
The one I first saw on TV.
You know, the one that grabbed my Heart and fired my Imagination.
The one with the cliffs.
“I’d like to go there one day.”
So what fired the Imagination of those ancient mariners?
The ones whose fiords evoke the very one I’m travelling down
Long Time Home
L’Anse aux Meadows and Sherwood Park
Two days travelling then waiting. Anticipation grows with the wish to be settled back home. Thankfully all uneventful, as a day later, and for several more, re-routing, premature landings, delays, all in response to bomb threats on my airline. The world’s madness – is it more than ever, or the consequence of instantaneous connection – hits my consciousness broadside, closer to home.
And what of those ancient mariners and the many days’ and weeks’ and months’ anticipation and sailing across the ocean? What bold imagination and steel-hearted courage, madness even, drove them from their Nordic homeland to what we now call Iceland, Greenland? And then further south, to be the first of their kind, my kind, to settle on this, my home and native land?
L’Anse aux Meadows, the very tip of Newfoundland’s northern most shore. One thousand years ago. We now know centuries before the likes of men we call Cabot, Columbus, Cartier.
When I recall the day I disembarked from the van, set foot on and looked out over that first “from away settlement,” over the bare expanse of naked land and sea and sky – cold and windy and grey and raining – I can hardly imagine, in a thousand years, their first reaction to seeing and setting foot. Unless I search in my own DNA and evoke that of my father’s, when he first saw, from the ship carrying him across the ocean from Germany, and set foot on the land that he would claim and make home, that day over a mid-century ago.
For more on the trip that inspired these vignettes, click here: Get Trip Info