Serenity Sunday: Bell Island, Newfoundland & Labrador, Canada

Bell Island is situated off the Avalon Peninsula on Newfoundland’s east coast. It holds special significance for me as it was this island where my paternal grandfather’s family first settled when they emigrated from Ireland. My grandfather worked in the mines there before eventually moving his family to Harbour Grace where my father was born. I have never been to Bell Island.. These photos were taken by my daughter, Anastacia, who visited Bell Island a few years ago. I am grateful to her for giving me permission to share her photographs. I hope you enjoy these rugged images of sea, surf, and coastline.

Cape Spear, Newfoundland & Labrador

My sister shared this beautiful photo (not mine) taken by Gerald Lamb. I think it is so serene and beautiful I wanted to share it with all of you. Light houses for millennia kept sailors safe from rocky shores during the darkness of night and in foggy weather. At this time when so many of us are ‘lost in the dark’ so to speak I am reminded of the light shone by the Creator, if we have eyes to see. Be safe my friends and be well.

taken at Cape Spear in Newfoundland & Labrador, Canada photo credit: Gerald Lamb

“O God, Thy sea is so great

And my boat is so small” – author unknown

Canada Day 2020: so many conflicting emotions

I am always somewhat conflicted about this day. It is Memorial Day in Newfoundland & Labrador today as well. It is the day that commemorates Beaumont-Hamel and the deaths of so many during the battle that saw the Newfoundland Regiment all but wiped out during the First World War. Both my grandfathers fought in that war, one in the navy and the other in the army. So, yes, I am conflicted. On one hand there is so much to celebrate about this country we call Canada. On the other, it is a somber day as I reflect n the loss of life that terrible day in 1916. Some years ago I learned of my Miꞌkmaq heritage. My great-grandmother was a Mi’kmaq woman. Yet another reason to be somewhat somber as indigenous peoples across this land continue to fight for such things as potable, clean water, for autonomy, and respect. There is lots to consider as our country marks its 153rd birthday. It is a strange year as Covid-19 continues to wreak havoc and social gatherings are still limited. There will be no parades this year, nor any big celebrations. So I sit here reflecting and looking at photos taken over the years. Here are a few photos I have chosen to commemorate the day:

The Canada Goose – no explanation needed.
Taken at the Pow Wow in St. George’s, NL as Miꞌkmaq people celebrate our heritage
Flags fly at half-mast today in Newfoundland & Labrador
The cenotaph in Stephenville, NL, Canada
RCMP march in the Parade of Heroes, July 1, 2016
The Parade of Heroes, as it was called, honored all the first responders that came to the aid of Fort McMurray during the wildfires of 2016
(Photo credit: Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo) That was a very emotional day as the people of my community turned out in large numbers to celebrate Canada and to give homage to all the groups that helped us through the wild fires. This group is the Alberta Wildfire Crew and they did a phenomenal job! July 1, 2016
A double rainbow over the community of Fort McMurray on July1, 2018
Car show in Stephenville, NL 2012 and with that I bid you adieu

Serenity Sunday: Back to Newfoundland

These photos were taken in communities near Stephenville, Newfoundland, on the island’s West coast. Rugged beauty is everywhere with trails to hike or bonfires to enjoy on each and every beach, if you choose. Or, if you are fortunate, local fishers will take you out fishing on the bay. The sturdy and the brave may even enjoy a dip in the ocean….

Boswarlos is a small community on the Port au Port Peninsula and features sandy beaches
On the way to Stephenville from Boswarlos, this is Barn Hill in the community of Agathuna
A boat slip where fisherman pull their small dories ashore. This one was in the community of Fox Island River.
Larger fishing vessels are a common sight on Bay St. George
A river in the small town of Stephenville
Heading toward the community of St. George’s passing through Stephenville Crossing
Driving through Stephenville Crossing the “new” highway runs parallel to the old roadway where this old bridge still stands
Approaching St. George’s is a stand made for the Osprey a.k.a. fish hawk, where, if you are lucky, you can see these birds on their nest
Osprey nest
Another old bridge crossing a river near the community of St. George’s
On our way back from St. George’s we stopped at a beach where this jelly fish was stranded on the sand. Many of these fish are pink in color, but there are also clear jelly fish which are very hard to see when you’re out for a swim in the ocean. My mother always warned us about jelly fish because they can sting.
Loons are common to see out on the water. This one seemed to be injured and did not move as I approached. A call to wildlife once I got home sent help for this bird.
A broken dory is a sad reminder of the strong fishery that had made life on the island possible
Another shot of the river through St. George’s and a more modern bridge
Pitcher plants (Sarracenia purpurea L.) are a common sight on the marshes. It was adopted as the provincial flower in 1954
Little Port Harmon is part of the charm of the town of Stephenville where people walk, bike or roller skate along side of the roadway.

I hope you enjoyed this little tour. All communities included in this post are dotted along the bay and near Stephenville, NL, Canada.

But where’s the Water?

When Dad moved our family from Newfoundland to Ontario when I was a child it was a bit of a shock. We moved from a very rural area to a small town in Ontario and the question we children kept asking was, “But where is the water?” All these years later I have moved back to Newfoundland (twice) before eventually moving to Alberta where I now live. Alberta is a beautiful province, actually, Canada is a beautiful country, no matter where you live. But there is something about spring and summer that has me yearning for ocean breezes and the scent of brine in the air. Forgive my nostalgia for simpler times and the sweetness of childhood memories. Allow me to share with you a few of the things I miss about the island.

First of all, the view of the ocean from atop the hill where our house was situated, as well as the woods where I often played as a child. As spring turns to summer I still miss the water.

Port au Port West, NL, Canada – photo by Barra Studio

Can you see why we asked, where is the water? No matter where we went there was always a view of the bay, and depending where you were, you could watch big waves crashing along Bay St. George or enjoy the calmer waters of Port au Port Bay. In any case we were surrounded by water – no wonder we looked for it and were happier once our parents found a few lakes to take us to.

Mr. Walter Martin’s house, down the hill and across the road from where I lived as a child

Mr. Martin, as we called him, was actually related to us. He was our great grandfather’s step brother. I don’t know why we addressed him as Mister, but we did. I loved going down the hill to visit him. He was a dear, sweet man. He had built a stairway down to the rocky beach. If we were going down to the beach it was the safest way to get there as the cliff was quite steep below his home. Once on the beach there were large overhanging sheets of slate that formed a natural shelter from the elements. This house is long gone now, so I am very glad to have this photograph of it.

Mayflowers are a springtime delight, my thanks to Kathy Marche for kindly sending me this photo

Picking flowers in the woods, especially Mayflowers in spring, is another favorite memory. I have never seen them in any other place I’ve lived. Sometimes they were hard to find, particularly early in the season as they tend to hide under their foliage. As the season progresses they are a bit easier to see. I remember the delightful scent of these flowers and how often we would gather them for our Mom.

As the season progresses the pink hue fades to white
Wild roses are prolific along roadsides and on the edges of forest paths all across the island of Newfoundland. Although most are pink from time to time you may see white as well.

The rose pictured above also grows wild here in Alberta and out here it is aptly named the Alberta Rose. Every time I walk in the woods I am reminded again of my childhood home by these sweet-smelling flowers. Their scent is so much stronger than their domestic cousins.

I am happy here in Alberta. The people here are wonderful and it is a beautiful province. One of the things that also remind me of “back home” is the ring of hills surrounding the city. Newfoundland is very hilly, so in addition to the roses, I feel like a little bit of Newfoundland has been transplanted here. And although I do miss the ocean I am gratified to have several water sources nearby from the small pond behind the building to rivers and lakes within a short drive from here. It may not be quite the same as Newfoundland but it is home – even if there is no brine in the air!

Serenity Sunday: Gravels Nature Trail in Port au Port West, Newfoundland and Labrador

The following photos were taken on a groomed nature trail that follows the shoreline of Port au Port Bay. Accessible year round, the trail is a favorite spot of both local people and tourists alike. These photos were taken in various seasons over several years. I hope you enjoy them.

A red dory marks the entrance to the Gravels Nature Trail
The trail provides a good work out as well as incredible scenery. Come along, you’ll see
Wild rose bushes are common to see along the trail, and their scent is divine.
Near the beginning of the trail, which snakes through the woods as well as along the seashore
Huge boulders are part of the rugged beauty of this land
Little streams and small ravines require bridges
Near the top right side of this photo you’ll see the fencing that acts as a safe guard to prevent falls and accidents
Much of the shoreline includes shale cliff that reaches out into the bay
More rocky shoreline
The drop off is quite steep in some places
My favorite place to be: in the woods and near the sea
That hill in the background is known as Pine Tree
Taken from inside a natural cave on a small stretch of sandy beach below the trail
So serene
The trail is fairly long and can be arduous in spots, but small benches are placed at several places where people can rest and enjoy the view
A bird’s eye view
Even in winter the trail is beautiful to hike or ski

Serenity Sunday: Bowring Park in St. John’s, Newfoundland & Labrador

It’s been a tough week with so many news stories that are concerning and, frankly, depressing. So, let’s all take a deep breath and go to the park. Bowring Park is so beautiful. I took these photos back in 2014 when we went to visit our daughter who lives in the ‘oldest city in North America’. I love the architecture there and the history. If you ever get a chance to visit St. John’s don’t forget to spend some time at Bowring Park. You’ll be glad you did – at least, if you like green spaces and beautiful surroundings. I invite you to come along, let’s take a little tour of the park.

One of the things I love about the park is the swans
Watching the swans glide through the water is so peaceful and balm for the soul
Of course, other water fowl also inhabit the park. This guy seemed to be asking, “How do you like my tux?”
So many ducks, and lots of pigeons too
The park has many floral features as well
There are explosions of color everywhere you look
To the left you will see the park bench that’s been painted green to blend into the trees. So, if you get tired you can rest there and enjoy the scent of the flowers
So many pretty flowers. I love flowers.
One of my favorite flowers. I love how the head of a sunflower turns to follow the sun throughout the day.
In the center of the park stand several statues. Fantasy fans will love these fairies, as will the children and the young at heart.
I bet you didn’t know Never-never land was actually located here in Bowring Park. Yup, that’s Peter Pan calling all the lost boys to a picnic, perhaps?
Stepping stones across the pond
a bridge over the waters allows visitors a new viewpoint
Trails meander through the park and through trees that offer shade on a hot summer day
Sit and listen to the water cascading over rocks and rushing downstream
Another shot of the bridge and fountain
Bowring Park, a gem located in the Waterford Valley in St. John’s
I could watch the swans for hours
The park has been home to water fowl and wildlife since 1915, a sanctuary in the middle of the city, and a most welcome reprieve from the trials of life

I hope that these photos will help instill a sense of peace and tranquility. We are all experiencing a fair deal of stress these days and it is so important to take a break from it all, to go on vacation, even if it’s only virtual. Wishing you all the blessings of peaceful calm.

Serenity Sunday: Port Harmon in Stephenville, NL, Canada

My daughter-in-law sent me a Newfoundland classic for supper today: cod and potatoes with drawn butter. It made me think of back home, the place where I was born and raised. I live in Alberta now and there is much to love about this place that I now call home. Still, I get reminiscing about the island I still love. I do miss the ocean with its constant changes and moods. These were taken at Port Harmon, the deep port in Bay St. George, and part of the town of Stephenville on the island’s west coast.

This anchor has sat at the harbour for many, many years. I remember my Dad taking us to Port Harmon to see the ships docked there. This anchor looms large in my memories.
We could see these limestone cliffs across the bay in Port au Port, where I grew up. The stone is quite light and shimmers in the sun.
Driftwood of all sizes line the beaches
A long stone jetty reaches out into the bay at little Port Harmon
There is beauty as the seaside, even in the foggiest weather
I loved walking along the rocky beach and listening to the waves crash ashore
The power of the ocean waters can uproot trees along the seashore, especially where erosion takes place
I really wanted to drag this piece home for the yard. It had such interesting form.
Small fishing boats come into harbour with their loads of fish, shrimp, crab, lobster and more…nothing like fresh seafood!
Right before a storm, the skies were a rich variety of hues of blue and grey – it was amazing to see and to hear the waves crashing upon the beach. Nature is so awesome to witness….
While the skies were darkening quickly in one direction, looking the other way it was almost serene in its beauty and majesty
Where the sky meets the sea there is always, always magic

Summertime and missing the ocean

I was born in Newfoundland and lived there until Dad moved our family to Ontario. Every summer I get homesick for the island. I have so many wonderful memories of playing in the woods or on the beaches. My husband and I would later move back there to raise our own children.

Summer in Newfoundland is beautiful, there are loads of trails to hike, and of course bonfires on the beach as well as swimming. It is a nature lover’s paradise. Recently my brother gave me this wonderful aerial photo of the old house, which, sadly, is long gone. Looking at it takes me back in time. There have been many changes since we were children.

Port au Port West, NL, Canada – photo by Barra Studio

Our house looked over Bay St. George, a wild, tumultuous bay – unlike the quieter Port au Port Bay. This photo was taken on one of the rare calm days. The beaches on Port au Port Bay are mostly sandy beaches whereas Bay St. George beaches are very rocky. It was awesome on a stormy day to watch the waves crash loudly on the shores. It was also the lullaby I fell asleep to.

As a child we often visited our grandparents who lived just a little ways up the road, or to play with our cousins who lived nearby. I also remember going often to Mr. Martin’s house across the road. He had built wooden stairs down to the beach – the steep banks would have been difficult to navigate even for agile children. I don’t know why we addressed him as “Mister”. He was actually our great-grandfather’s step brother – but that’s another story. My husband insists we don’t have a family tree, we have a family forest – easy to get lost in it. But I digress, yet again.

You will see I labeled the photograph. “The old homestead” was built by my grandparents. At that point in time they did a lot of farming, as well as fishing to feed their large families.

“The pond” was formed when Port au Port Bay flooded the area during a storm. After that a breakwater wall was built to keep the bay at bay (pun intended). We used to go skating on the pond in winter – in more recent years it has been used for snow mobile races.

We had a barn on the property where we kept a cow and chickens, and, from time to time, a pig. I remember what fun it was jumping from the hayloft down into the hay below. It was not an easy life for our parents. There were a lot of chores to do from cutting wood for the wood stove to making home made bread to hauling water – we did not have indoor plumbing – that was a task my older brothers especially detested on laundry days. Everybody had chores to do from eldest to youngest. Still, I am so grateful to have been born there and to have these memories to treasure.

The blessings of birds

The blessings of birds are many from their importance to ecosystems to the joys they bring with their songs. Here is another installment of photographs to help cheer your day. As always I am grateful to Kathy Marche, the photographer and the soul with a big heart. Thanks again, Kathy.

American Goldfinch – Kathy Marche photo

American Redstart – Photo by Kathy Marche

Black-backed Woodpecker – Kathy Marche photo
Black-bellied Plover – Photo by Kathy Marche
Cedar Waxwing – Kathy Marche photo
Common Yellowthroat – photo by Kathy Marche
Downy Woodpecker – Kathy Marche photo
Golden-crowned Kinglet – Kathy Marche photo
Hairy Woodpecker – photo by Kathy Marche
Kildeer – photo by Kathy Marche
Lincoln Sparrow – Kathy Marche photo

Northern Three-toed Woodpecker – Kathy Marche photo
Olive-sided Flycatcher – Kathy Marche photo
Pine Grosbeak – Kathy Marche photo

If you ever visit the province of Newfoundland & Labrador you may want to take a walk on the many trails through the woods – you’ll be glad you did!