Crooked Fence, Newfoundland

Newfoundland is a magical place for me as it transports me back to my childhood. I did not have any contact with the Rock when I was a kid, but I was immersed in the small-town attitude that still permeates the latest addition of Confederation. Clearly my romantic view is not universally cherished. I was surprised when a fellow that I know who comes from Newfoundland told me that he had no interest in paintings of the Rock. “I spent twenty years trying to get away from that place,” he said. “It’s much prettier here with the Mennonites and all.”

Although Marilyn and I had often talked about a visit to Newfoundland, the spark that actually got us ignited was the request by a Toronto-based engineering company to have some paintings of a potential mine site on the eastern shore of Newfoundland. After flying into Baie Verte, we were taken in an open boat down along the coast to the quiet of Bobby Cove. Once the motor was stilled, the only sounds were the waves gently patting the rocks and the yells of the circling sea gulls.

Jumping into the ankle-deep water, we waded ashore to begin our two-hour trek to the mine site. In the late 1890’s, a town of four thousand souls had formed around this copper deposit, and hopes were high that this mine might now re-open. So far that has not happened. After our mine site visit, we spent a week driving down the coast, making a point to visit those exotically named ports, Cape Spear, Trinity, Petty Harbour, and Quidi Vidi as we headed toward St. John’s and the flight home.

On that plane I sat beside a young woman from Bonavista Bay who was dramatically uneasy about flying. She brought a new paler shade to the white knuckle idea. Since she was almost crying, I thought the arrival of lunch might serve as a diversion, so I commented with delight on the kiwi fruit on our trays. “What is it?” she asked suspiciously. “I won’t like it.” After some gentle coaxing, she severed a tiny segment and slowly brought it to her mouth. “Not bad, eh,” I encouraged. Removing the fruit from her mouth, she said, “I knew I wouldn’t like it. It tastes like it looks.”