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!

All My Relations


DRUM

I grew up in rural Newfoundland. When I was a child I often played in the woods pretending to be a little Indian girl. My mother had told us stories of how the Indians lived off the land and so I would pick berries and pull up ferns to eat the roots. My imagination knew no bounds as I crept through the woods stalking wild animals. (I never found any) A few years ago I learned I need not have pretended. According to census records I am a descendant of the Mi’kmaq people. Unfortunately I do not know which of my grandmothers was a Mi’kmaq woman.

The province of Newfoundland and Labrador was settled by mainly the English and French who sought to reap the benefits of a rich fishery. My great grandfather on my mother’s side was English. Most of the settlers married Mi’kmaq women. But, with the colonial mentality of the time, First Nations peoples were considered “heathen savages”. This, combined with patriarchy, meant Mi’kmaq women were considered less than their white counterparts and their births and marriages were often not recorded. In addition, the families of Mi’kmaq people had to keep their identities secret as much as possible in order to work at any job. Bigotry and prejudice were wide spread. As a result many people are only learning of their Mi’kmaq forebears over the past ten years.

I feel we have been robbed; Robbed of a rich culture; Robbed of our identity. But there is hope as new groups have stepped forward to revive a culture nearly lost to us. It is now possible to learn much about native ways including learning the Mi’kmaq language, if we choose to do so. As I move forward to reclaim my heritage I do so to honour all my relations.