Feel the fear and do it anyway – zip lining at Marble Mountain, NL


 

Photo credit: Jess Molnar

Several years ago, I was studying journalism at the local college. In the second year of the program we were sent to cover the Canadian Student Leadership Conference. It was an interesting experience, not least because during the conference we were treated to a free pass on the zipline at Marble Mountain. We had been split into several teams to cover various aspects of the gathering and it was my team that was chosen for this dubious assignment.

There were four of us on my team. I had planned to interview and photograph students from across Canada who were taking part during my trek up the mountain. One of my teammates was supposed to participate in zip lining while trying to capture photographs of the experience – she chickened out. That left us with a decision to make: who was going to bite the bullet and take the plunge?

Now, I had always had a huge fear of heights and initially I was adamant it would NOT be me.  However, one of the team was already fitted with a Go-pro camera that was attached to a helmet and she was geared up to go. Another member was struggling with the flu, which knocked him out of the running, so that left me!

I finally consented, for the good of the team. After all, I am nothing if not a team player. I remember praying earnestly that I would live to see another day and asking the Creator to take care of my husband and children. I would not look down. I concentrated on the harness that would fly me through the air and gauging the strength of the cables above that I would be sliding on. They seemed secure. I remember trembling as I stepped off the platform. I had never been so nervous or anxious in my entire life! However, by the time I stepped off the second platform (the zip line zigzags across a deep fjord) I was really enjoying myself and was yelling at the top of my lungs: Whoot! Whoot!

Coming in for a landing Whoot Whoot

Thanks to happenstance I overcame the fear and enjoyed the experience immensely. Part of the assignment was to write a story about the experience, which I did. I was pleased to hear my instructor chuckling as he read it. I learned a lot that day, not least of all was to feel the fear and do it anyway.

The Conversation


The conversation 2

 

“Come, rest upon my petals here and tell me of your story.

Where have you been, My little friend?”

Said the flower to the moth

“I roam high above, where you can never go.

I visit plants and trees and flowers sweet everywhere I travel,”

Said the moth to the flower.

“Oh, to fly up high, to soar upon the winds.

To not be planted in one place, to see beyond the wall.”

Sang the flower to the moth.

“Aw, but you are treasured, for your beauty and your scent.

No worries about foes like birds that would eat you, if they could,”

Said the moth to the flower.

“There are pros and cons to every Life,”

Continued he to she. The moth thought to comfort her with his words so wise

And yet the flower pined and pined for freedom to travel far.

“It’s true, I am admired, and watered every day, but if you think me safe right here

You know not all my visitors,” replied the flower,

“For there are bugs that chew my leaves, And spiders everywhere. Not to mention

honey bees That feed upon my nectar.”

“Aw, so you serve this world,

Nourishing the pollinator,” the moth cried out.

“Oh silly moth, I know the truth – that you as well

Pollinate us flowers,” she answered,

“And so, you see, we have need of thee.

When you brush your soft, soft wings

Against my little petals, you do more than tickle me

Like some ethereal feather. And when you chance to nibble me

And drink deeply of my nectar,” she shyly whispered, “you too carry my

Essence to continue seed production.”

The moth stretched out his wings and proudly strutted his stuff

He thought about all the good he did and didn’t remember why

Venus flytrap chewed up his kind, that naughty, naughty flower.

It was because the caterpillar he once was did damage to her leaves

and ruined her every finery….

The flower knew this, but did not say, for his friendship she treasured

After what seemed a lengthy pause, the moth did once more speak

“We each do our part, to bring beauty to this world, and I will speak to north wind

And ask him when you’re ready, to blow your petals far above the wall so you can see

The wonders of this world,” the moth proclaimed.

And so, it came to be, that during summer’s warmest days the flower bloomed and blossomed. But in the fall the north wind kept his promise and lifted high her petals. She traveled far beyond the wall and lived at last her dream.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

American Influence


Stephenville NL RESIZED 2

Here in Canada we are inundated with media message from our neighbour in the south, from news to movies, songs to magazines, business and trade, we are steeped in American culture. And it’s not bad, really. It just is. Canada is a huge country, but has nowhere near the population that  America does, nor even a fraction of its power. Many people around the world see little difference between our two countries. Yet, there are distinctive difference such as the idea of America as a ‘melting pot” where all cultures are assimilated into the dominant culture. Conversely Canada celebrates multi-culturalism and protects many rights and freedoms in the Charter of Rights.

I grew up in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador. My home was on the west coast of the island of Newfoundland. During World War II the Americans built an air force base in Stephenville – a coastal town close to the rural area where we lived. My father worked on the base and often invited American friends to our home for a Sunday dinner.

When President Kennedy was assassinated my father wept copious tears at what ‘they’ did to ‘our’ president. This was repeated when Senator Robert Kennedy was murdered. American politics were often discussed by my Dad and his cronies. When I was a small child I thought we were American! Not hard to understand with frequent letters coming from my paternal aunt in Vermont and another in Detroit. In addition, the province had fairly recently joined confederation making it the youngest province in the country.

I was still living in Newfoundland when the events of 9/11 brought several planes to land at our airport. Stephenville boasts an international airport, the runway built by the Americans during the war. It was a very sad time for local people who had known many American friends – some of which maintained summer homes all over the island and continue to visit annually.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I am a proud Canadian and deeply love ‘our home and native land’. But I fully recognize the huge influence the U.S.A. has had and continues to have on my country.

Ancestry: My Search


The mystery of ancestry

“There are many people who could claim and learn from their Indian ancestry, but because of the fear their parents and grandparents knew, because of past and present prejudice against Indian people, that part of their heritage is clouded or denied.”
–Joseph Bruchac, ABENAKI

In 2013 I learned that one of my great grandmothers was a Mi’kmaq woman. This all came about in 2008 when the Mi’kMaq nation in Newfoundland & Labrador were finally recognized by the Canadian government and struck a deal to become a landless band under the Indian Act. Many families, mine included, began investigating birth, marriage, and census records. My cousin did much of the work and found evidence in the census of the early 1900s. It came in the form of my grandfather’s brother admitting he was a Mi’kmaq descendant. However, I do not know if it was his mother or grandmother who was Mi’kmaq. I know his mother’s name, but not my great, great grandmother’s. It saddens me.

In 1949 the Dominion of Newfoundland became a province of Canada. At that point in time the federal government was in the midst of negotiations with several First Nations bands.  Because the leader of Newfoundland & Labrador, Joey Smallwood, wanted to join confederation he vehemently denied there were any indigenous peoples there, in order to reassure the federal government they would not have to face the same challenges there.

For all intents and purposes indigenous peoples were discriminated against in every corner of the country. It was no different in Newfoundland, where indigenous people were forced to hide their identity in order to gain employment. This, coupled with past colonial biases, and patriarchy, meant that many Mi’kmaq people denied who they were and identity became a closely guarded secret in many families, including mine.

Unfortunately, I have little information regarding my native ancestors, their culture and ways of life are foreign to me. However, I have always held certain sympathies with indigenous peoples around the world, long before I knew the truth of my own heritage. This is partly due to the way I was raised, but also, I think, to the mysteries of ancestry. There has been much written about cellular memory and I cannot help but feel there is truth to the thought that our ancestor’s experiences are written in our DNA. It certainly explains the phenomenon of déjà vu!

I have learned more about the Mi’kmaq people since 2013, and have much more to discover. I am grateful to have made the connection, thanks to my cousin’s hard work and generous sharing of information.

I attribute my passion for nature, the environment and human rights to my Mi’kmaq ancestors. For although I never knew them their innate connection to the earth and collective cultural ways do live on through the mystery of ancestry.

“Oh Great Spirit, today I am ready for You to use me as a channel of Your peace. Let my walk today be visible so the people will say “There goes a Man of God.” I want to know what He knows. If they ask, I will tell them to go out into the wilderness and pray for You to guide them.” – Native Prayer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yellow Eye


Yellow Eye photo by Carol Morrissey Hopkins

 

Yellow eye

Peeking out of lush leaves

Tell me,

What do you see?

Do you watch as people walk past unaware?

Yellow eye

Like a chameleon you are well hidden

There among the green foliage

Do you seek to know

The mysteries of this world?

What would you say, I wonder?

To the human inhabitants of the earth

What wisdom have you gleaned?

On your patch of green

Do you have insight to impart

To all us two-legged creatures

Who pass you by without a thought

Tell me please

Yellow eye

The Seed


IMG_6426 RESIZED

The Seed … 

Shadows dark and winding

Making inroads deep inside

‘Come, let the light shine

To chase the dark away, the woman said,

Worry not, she crooned softly

Let lightness soothe you’

And yet it is the shadowland

Where truth lays buried

Like a seed within the earth.

What knowledge does the black night hold

Or secret of despair?

I will worry not

When once I hold

The answers to my query

The seed buried deep within

Mother Nature’s womb

Will split in two and allow new growth

And like that strong green thing

That pushes forth toward the surface

To unfurl its leaves like praying hands

Open to the sun

I will hunker down within the shadows

And wait until I’m done.