Each community has a character or iconic individual that is memorable or does something out of the extraordinary. For the Town of Hawke’s Bay on the Northern Peninsula that person is 90-year-old Great-Great Grandmother, Cecilia (“Celie”) Smith.
Over a pot of rabbit stew today at dinner, the conversation between my great-aunt, great-uncle and grandmother turned to bear sightings. I had mentioned to my uncle that while on vacation travelling to Conche (the French Shore) I saw a small cub near roadside. Then travelling on the Trans Canada Highway later in the week I saw another black bear. I have lived in rural NL for nearly 20 years and have never seen a bear until this summer. This re-called a recent article in the Northern Pen, Western Star and Telegram newspapers with the title, “90-year old bags bear”.
This is not the first bear for this spry woman. I recall back in 2007 watching an episode of CBC’s Land & Sea, which profiled her at 87 & 88 years of age having trapped at least two previously (Celie’s story can be viewed at: http://www.cbc.ca/landandsea/2009/04/celies-story.html). This woman built her own home, a home for her parents and others, provided maintenance and worked 32 years at the Maynard’s Motor Inn, worked as a fisherperson and logger. She still maintains a large garden, does woodwork and other daunting tasks that most people my age and younger wouldn’t tackle, yet at 90, she makes it look easy.
She has a real love for the great outdoors, the forest (woods) and at her cabin, which she built. She enjoys rabbit snaring and does so on her own snowmobile, accompanied by her great-grandson. To me she is one pretty cool great-grandmother. Even today she continues to beaver trap with her son and continues to hold a bear hunting licence.
Celie Smith has the right attitude about many things including:
- Trapping or growing her own food instead of eating products at the grocery store with ingredients we can’t even pronounce
- Staying active and getting fresh air
- Keeping a good sense of humour
- Having that one drink of whiskey at night
I remember a book given to me by an elementary school teacher, called The Legend of Princess Sheila NaGeira, which I read 15 years ago. The book left an impression on me because I remember she lived to be 105 years old according to the Legend and that she lived by the philosophy that “it is better to wear out, than to rust out.” So let’s take a page out of Celie Smith’s book, get outside and enjoy rural living.
Slowly Sipping Whiskey -