Blog Archives

Planting Potatoes & Roadside Gardens

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Maintaining a garden of root crops has always been practiced in my family for generations. I remember spending time there with my father and grandparents, tilling the soil, placing seed and typically digging. For some reason I seldom was around for the weeding process. It was my grandmother who did most of that, as she is the ultimate green thumb. Our family still continues to plant potatoes, as well as carrot, turnip, cabbage, beets, onion and lettuce. I’ve been experimenting with other seeds and spices, and hopefully soon will have a greenhouse to help expand what I am able to grow.

What was needed for subsistence years ago, is now unnecessary given easy access to vegetables at grocery stores. However, it is gratifying to know that so many are continuing this generational tradition. As I travel throughout the District, I see many roadside and backyard gardens that were likely started by their parents or grandparents. There is also renewed interest from younger people to grow different vegetables, establish community gardens, use various techniques and use the space they have available to them in the most productive form.

We have exceptional opportunity to expand farming on the Great Northern Peninsula, in both small and large-scale. We are also lacking a coordinated effort to establish a farmers or local market in many communities. There is opportunity to establish a weekly marketplace where locally grown produce, jams, preserves, crafts and handmade wares are for sale. Coffee and teas and other booths could be set-up, with picnic tables and even some local music.

There are some spaces in the District, where a local marketplace could thrive. Let’s move this idea forward.

Live Rural NL -

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North
@MitchelmoreMHA

 

 

 

Community Kitchen Party Thrives on Tradition – Green Island Cove, NL

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Our rural communities will thrive with active participation of residents. We saw significant success on July 11, 2014 with the first ever promoted community kitchen party to be hosted at Green Island Cove wharf. The event ended up being held at the neighbouring fishers’ gear shed and drew throughout the evening upwards of 200 people from under eight to nearly eighty years of age. It was truly a gathering to celebrate community, tradition and enjoy each other’s company at one of the busiest times of year.

Music brings people together and we are blessed to have local people willing to share their talents. Guitars, accordions, ugly sticks, brooms, spoons and kajoons paired with a vocals of Clara and Loomis made for an incredible night where tradition thrived. I’ve always heard my grandparents talk about the old-fashioned time and this is likely the closest I’ll get to experiencing those community celebrations of food, song and dance. With fishing nets as the backdrop, songbooks distributed, the waltz, two-step and jigs began to play and the old wooden floor of the gear shed got some action.

There was a little magic in the room that evening as we all embraced our small fishing community way of living, as those who came before us would always take time throughout summer to have a time. Even the little kids were eager to learn the dance moves. A tumble or two would not deter them.

A group of men and women also treated us to a good old-fashioned square dance. This dance was once commonplace and now only a handful know all the moves. When these dancers took the floor, all eyes were on them. A couple of brave souls joined in with the group and learned the steps as they went. I believe everyone else wish they knew the moves, so they too could take to the floor.

It has become quite clear that the success of our rural communities is about how we interact with the space we have in our everyday lives. I think ensuring that a gear shed or a wharf can also be the gathering place as they were pre-moratorium of 1992 is vital to maintaining and sustaining our outport communities.

I must commend the leadership of Dr. Kathleen Blanchard, President and Founder of Intervale. This organization produces programs and services in the fields of conservation, heritage interpretation, and sustainable development. Her interest in sustainable fisheries and community economic development was the driving force to documenting and organizing with fishers Loomis and Brenda such a tremendous event, which can be shared with others.

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The success of the evening has already sparked talks to host another, possibly make this an annual event like the Conche and Goose Cove Garden Parties. The evening also stimulated discussion of hosting another Come Home Year in 2016 – one for Green Island Cove and Pine’s Cove. The dates have been set, so mark your calendars – August 15-21st, 2016 because home is where you will want to be. Please join us!

Live Rural NL -

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North
@MitchelmoreMHA

Sustaining a Community takes Commitment – Raleigh, NL

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Raleigh is home to the awe-inspiring Burnt Cape Ecological Reserve, boasting over 300 plant species with 30 being rare. The Burnt Cape cinquefoil is found exclusively on the Northern Peninsula, as it is the only place in the world where this species grows. The Provincial Government of Newfoundland & Labrador has failed to live up to its obligations when it eliminated all interpretation at this Reserve. It has also neglected to install appropriate signage, develop educational material such as guidebooks and panels to preserve, educate, maintain road infrastructure and make available our natural areas to interested parties. These short-sighted decisions by Government impact and harm our rural communities. Where is Government’s commitment?

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Additionally, rural communities are facing pressures from out-migration, aging population and changes to the dynamics of the economy that sustained them since their beginning all across the globe. Sustaining our small towns takes commitment and I see that in entrepreneurs Marina and Ted Hedderson  of Raleigh, NL.

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Yesterday, I was amazed by the creativity, commitment and desire to see the Town of Raleigh with a population of less than 200 survive and thrive. The current owners have been running Marina’s Mini-Mart & Gas Bar since 2001. They saw an opportunity to get into the accommodations business to compliment the neighbouring Pistolet Bay – Provincial Park, which is typically at capacity for tents and RVs throughout the season.

I was given a tour of the cottages, which include 4 two-bedroom, 3 one-bedrooms and a newly added vacation home that has the most incredible ocean view. The vacation home is very spacious and family focused with two queen and a twin bed, laundry facilities, BBQ and a view you won’t want to leave. The two bedroom cottages are very immaculate, offering two queen beds, laundry and wooden finished interior. The three one-bedroom cottages have leather furniture and laundromat access, but the best feature is that they sit with a breath-taking ocean view from a large deck to sit and enjoy your morning coffee or evening beverage. There is an entertainment area for evening fires right at water’s edge. There 4-star accommodations are priced at an incredible value, ranging from $109-169.

The Burnt Cape Cafe is a must if you are in the area. It truly understands the importance of experiential tourism. The Cafe takes lobster to a whole new level of fresh. The patrons, if they choose can go to the local wharf and select their own lobster and get their photos taken before and after. An incredible experience!

After stepping into the cafe, my attention was immediately drawn to the back which includes a comfortable seating area, big screen television playing traditional Newfoundland music and I thought was a great place to sit and relax. They also know the value of WiFi, which is provided for free.

The original six hockey jerseys are proudly displayed as in the off-season this area becomes on Monday nights, open to the dart league.  There is a wide-selection of crafts, souvenirs and other products. I purchased a Mummer’s shot glass, as I love the jannies.

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The Newfoundland tartan on the tables is a nice touch to compliment a menu that caters to those who love high-quality seafood dishes. I was treated to some phenomenal chowder, it comes highly recommended to start. It comes with generous portions of salmon and cod, great creamy flavour that is amplified with a touch of cheese melting as you eat. As a main, I’ve had pan-seared scallops and shrimp in garlic butter that would melt in your mouth with Parmesan mashed potatoes that kept you wanting more. To top the meal off, the deep-fried ice-cream was superb. The rich coating ensured the ice-cream was cold and in tact while I slowly enjoyed this treat drizzled with bakeapples. If you have not eaten at the Burnt Cape cafe you are truly missing out.

Small business and innovation is the key to dynamic growth, especially in small communities. Ted and Marina have a vision for their Town, their home. The business currently offers everything you need at your fingertips. However, they have more big ideas on how to  add accommodations, entertainment and experiential offers that appeal to locals and visitors. They are a partner with the annual Iceberg Festival, believe in strong promotion and understand the value of packaging and providing their customers with the highest in services and unique experiences.

Sustaining a community takes commitment and these two truly have what it takes to build a stronger community. I would encourage you to drop by and support this locally owned and independent business that is doing incredibly big things in a small town.

Visit their website at: www.burntcape.com

Live Rural NL -

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North
@MitchelmoreMHA

The Fire Still Burns – Conche, NL

The fire still burns in the small town of Conche, Newfoundland on the tip of the Great Northern Peninsula East. This community has embraced its storied past, which includes early visits from the French through the migratory fishery in the 17 and 18 hundreds to their shores. On a recent visit, the French Shore Interpretation Centre had their French oven lit, in preparation for a tour group to their Centre.

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The census may list the population of Conche at 181 people, but there is much more support than that for the survival of this small Town. The people of this community are hardworking, resourceful and full of hospitality.

An active fish plant, Conche Seafoods Ltd., employs dozens of people from across the Great Northern Peninsula and parts of Western Newfoundland. This fishing Town is bucking the trend and seeing increased activity and additional employment, not less. A recent tender was called by DFO for wharf expansion and improvements in the range of up to $1 million. All signs of a strong economy. Each year hundreds of commercial trucks travel over a 17.6 KM gravel road. It is long overdue the provincial Government live up to its commitment and pave Route 434.

The community is supported by a strong local business community and amenities for residents and visitors to engage.

Museums and Heritage Facilities include:

  • Casey House Artist Retreat, the French Shore Interpretation Centre
  • A traditional harbour lighthouse
  • Remains of a World War II Boston BZ277 plane crash
  • The Casey Store, a Registered Heritage Structure – one of the oldest fisheries buildings remaining on the French Shore, and Martinique Bay, the site of a 1707 confrontation between English warships and the trapped French fleet – a designated Site of Historic Significance
  • Chaloupe Exhibit
  • Crouse Beach – a half-buried flat pebble beach that was the site of a vast French codfish drying operation in the 19th century. The beach offers a view of picturesque wharves in Southwest Crouse
  • Boat tours can be arranged upon request

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Recreation Facilities:

  • Conche Ball Field
  • Conche Playground
  • RV and Camp site
  • Beach Volleyball area
  • Array of walking trails

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Religious Institutions:
  • Roman Catholic Church
  • Parish Hall
Schools:
  • Sacred Heart All Grade
  • Northern Peninsula Family Resource Centre

Business:

  • Bits-n-Pieces Cafe
  • Bed & Breakfast
  • Convenience Store
  • Lounge
  • Fish plant

Municipal:

  • Town Hall
  • Volunteer Fire Department

The community also has unique vernacular architecture you basically wont see in other communities on the tip of the Great Northern Peninsula. Traditional stick homes are still fashionable here and  full of colour!

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Artists and artisans can thrive in Conche. They have talented painters, authors, storytellers, dancers and folk signers that will gladly put on a performance. Summer is when Conche truly comes to life. In 2013, Conche celebrated a successful Come Home Year bringing hundreds of residents home. The committed volunteers truly make amazing things happen in small communities. The Annual Garden party is certainly a wonderful experience for anyone wanting an authentic rural experience.

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Only a few kilometres away in Roddickton-Bide Arm is a 24/7 health centre, banking, Government services and a suite of retail, manufacturing and other small businesses. Partnerships have also been established with the Mayflower Inn & Adventures to provide zodiac tours and cross-promote regional tourism.

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Conche benefits from strong organization (especially from their Town Council past and present), an ability to embrace their past and ability provide the services any small community would want and ensure their local businesses are supported. This is the only way in which our small communities will survive and thrive. It must be through local innovation and a strong will to give back to your friends and neighbours to ensure the services we want and expect can be provided. Small business is certainly a means to rural communities growing.

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Conche is one of those towns that has incredible potential to be further developed. More than 2,000 tourists go out of their way to trek down this gravel road on the Great Northern Peninsula East to visit this picturesque town. It has worked hard to establish itself as a destination. Conche is on the map for so many reasons.  The establishment of the French Shore Interpretation Centre has truly helped accelerate this growth.

A 222-foot tapestry on Jacobian linen depicts the history of the French Shore. It is proudly on display, designed by J.C. Roy and made by the women of Conche. This summer there centre spent close to a year developing 9 new exhibits that remember the 1713 Treaty of Utrecht. This now has the potential to travel the province or other parts of the world as a touring exhibit to further promote the community of Conche. These initiatives are building blocks to growing a rural community.

 

Conche is truly a destination on the Great Northern Peninsula that must be visited an experienced by residents and visitors alike. There is potential for new business endeavors in town and more development. Their success can be replicated! Let’s keep working together to build stronger communities.

Rural success is occurring! The fire still burns…

Live Rural NL -

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

A Labour of Love – Old-Fashioned Motor Boat Built in Noddy Bay!

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Resident Wes Eddison of Noddy Bay proudly shows me his old-fashioned motor boat, which he has made by his own design and primarily by hand.  The boat is a result of many weeks of hard labour – a labour of love.

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Wes is eager to take his old-fashioned motor boat on the water. He was waiting on the shaft to make the appropriate connection to the old-fashion make-and-break motor and the handmade rudder.

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The boat is certainly not Wes’ first, but at 73 years of age he claims it will be his final creation. A project that started in February is now nearing completion and Wes looks forward to taking everyone out for a ride across the Bay.

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It takes great talent and skill to craft such a boat. I am always impressed by what our local residents are capable of doing. We must do more to ensure that boat building as a past time and as a way of life does not die in rural Newfoundland and Labrador. We need more people to take up this great trade.

Wes Eddison is a prime example of a local resident that exudes what it means to live rural. I hope others will follow his direction and see a renewal in boat building, especially those that model the trap-skiff.

Happy travels Wes!

Live Rural NL -

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

 

Grandois to host Come Home Year in 2015

The census lists the population of Grandois (St. Julien’s, used interchangeably) at 50, but there are far fewer reside there today. I visited this picturesque community a few weeks ago and took in a service at St. St. William’s Church which overlooks the harbour.

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St. William’s Church houses a wooden folk altar built by Jack Fitzgerald in the early 1900s. The intricate details was carved by a pocketknife. It is a wonderful piece of history and depicts the talents of the people in the region.

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The community is steeped in French history and has beautiful walking trails that lead you to old French fishing sites, such as French Point. There are tent platforms, barbecue pits and picnic tables along some of the trails. Visitors can also experience St. Julien’s Island, Fischot Islands and Harbour de Vieux, which were re-settled communities. A boat tour can be arranged in summer, which may include up close views of icebergs and whales.

Additionally, the community Grandois (St. Julien’s) sits on an abandoned copper mine that has been re-discovered in recent years with high concentrations of deposits. The population would drastically increase for this and surrounding communities with the development of a commercial mine. There are lots of untapped mining exploration on the Great Northern Peninsula, waiting to be unearthed.

 

I would encourage people to experience the beauty of this tiny community, which requires nearly 30 km travel over a gravel road (Route 438 Croque road) off Route 432 near Town of Main Brook. Grandois will host Come Home Year from July 17-20th, 2015 and it surely will be a wonderful celebration of community and place. Population may increase or surpass historic highs.  I look forward to it!

Big things happen in small communities.

Live Rural NL -
Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

 

 

20 Years of Gourmet Meals Served at the Norseman Restaurant, L’anse aux Meadows

L’Anse aux Meadows with a population of 37 residents is a quaint fishing village that has been placed on the map for being the first part of North America to be authenticated as site of first contact for the Europeans, when the Vikings landed more than 1,000 years ago.

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Each year tens of thousands of tourists flock to this community and they are not disappointed by the historical context of the viking discovery provided by both the World UNESCO Heritage Site L’Anse aux Meadows and the social enterprise, Norstead – A Viking Village and Port of Trade. Last year St. Anthony Basin Resources Inc. (SABRI) partnered with Norstead and the Leif Erikson Foundation to have placed a statue of Leif to commemorate his discovery, there are only four in the world of this type and this will be the last.

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Additionally, the community is proudly the home to a gourmet restaurant and art gallery and has been for some 20 years! The only of its kind on the tip of the Great Northern Peninsula.

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The Norseman Restaurant and Gaia Art Gallery (http://www.valhalla-lodge.com/restaurant.htm) is a local treasure. It has been a thriving success due to the entrepreneurial owners desire to provide the best visitor experience possible. Their quality food during lunch and dinner meals have a wonderful presentation. I always enjoy the duck or lamb dishes served with a nice glass of red wine. They have an extensive wine list. If you enjoy seafood it is locally caught and the lobster, well you will not get fresher than the Norseman. The lobsters are kept in an enclosed crate in the ocean, just feet from the restaurant where you can pick your own with the chef.

There is local music playing on many evenings, by the talented Wade Hillier of St. Lunaire-Griquet. I love it when he belts out the tune, “Aunt Martha’s Sheep”, it has to be one of my favourites. The service is extremely friendly, professional and they ensure all your questions about ingredients are answered. Truly a great front line and kitchen staff.

The restaurant also supports local artists through their artwork all for sale, which is displayed on the walls, the tea dolls in glass cases and the carvings from antlers on the tables.

The view as well is picture perfect as you see icebergs around every corner of L’Anse aux Meadows. I would encourage you to experience the wonders of the Norseman in its 20 years of operation! There is much more to say about this business and other initiatives by owner Gina Nordhoff, which I’ll save for future postings. Enjoy all L’Anse aux Meadows has to offer, come stay for a while.

Live Rural NL -
 
Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North 

 

Duck a delicacy on the GNP

I love traditional foods, especially those that focus on local moose, caribou, rabbit, seal and other game animals. Earning a living from the sea for so many on the Great Northern Peninsula brought an abundance of seafood to our diets, which was supplemented by local farming of root crops, especially potatoes, carrot, turnip, cabbage and beets.

Growing up, duck was not served at the table. My father always hunted turr and we had the odd partridge. I believe in the Straits the presence of duck is less, making them more difficult to obtain than other parts of the Peninsula.

The more I travelled, the more opportunity I had to try duck on the menu of restaurants that served it. I love duck, and consider it a delicacy.

I’ve been quite fortunate to have an avid duck hunter from the tip of the Peninsula share with me. This meal will not be forgotten.

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Duck served with rice, potatoe, carrot, turnip and bread roll.
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If you have the opportunity to try local duck on your visit, I highly recommend.

Bon apetit! 

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

A little custard goes a long way…

Crème brûlée is a favourite dessert of mine when it is an option at a restaurant. I think, in part it comes from my upbringing. I have strong memories of mom making homemade custard to pour over jell-o, cake or vanilla pudding on Sunday evenings. The sweet taste of custard would always tantalize the taste buds.

We have a little blue china mug that my father used to help beat the powder using a spoon to make sure the custard was a perfect formula, assisting my mom in the process. There was a lot of love and co-operation that went into this sweet dessert that was enjoyed by the whole family.

Even today my sister makes a great custard sauce. It was a great treat, served over a rich chocolate cake.

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Additionally, my Aunt Iris made a traditional bread custard served after Sunday dinner. Everyone, even my grandmother was delighted by this dish.

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It is evident, a little custard goes a long way…

Live Rural NL -

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North
@MitchelmoreMHA

 

 

Lobster season is just around the corner

After taking a few seals in April, the first week of May had always represented a time of urgency for my father to get back on the water.  After a long winter of making new traps, sometimes building a new flat bottom boat and obtaining knitted lobster heads from my grandfather, May was the true start of a busy fishing season that would last into the Fall.  My father was a lobster fisher until his death in 1999.

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These are modern lobster traps taken in St. Paul’s at roadside on the Great Northern Peninsula. They are unlike the wooden ones I am use to, which had concrete poured into them to give the added weight to sink to the bottom of the ocean floor. It is evident that things are rapidly changing, even in the fishery. We are losing some of our very important traditional and institutional knowledge. My father was a boat builder, he could make a lobster trap and knit a net. These are all skills, in which I did not learn.

In modern times, it appears there is competition for new technology and the continuation of our traditional ways. There is value in both.

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I remember each year when lobster season opened. The now re-settled community of Barr’d Harbour would be one of the most populous places with fishers, partners, their children and helpers would be out in full force to get their lobster pots in the water as quickly as possible.

There was a real sense of urgency, creating a need for co-operation. All available hands would make for easier work, as we cut, baited and stacked dozens of traps into a truck to deliver to shoreline. Some traps were collected by steaming to islands and others were already loaded or near the shore. A real strategy was deployed by the license holder, ensuring they could work with the rising and falling tides.

I have always been impressed by the complexities of fishing and how our skilled and experienced fishers knew exactly where they dropped hundreds of traps, intermingled with other fishers scattered along the coastline over several miles.

The short time I had with my father on the water, will always be held as treasured memories. This was the place where he earned his living and provided for us, his family. He was very proud of what he did, fishing was in his blood extending many generations.

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The shoreline continues to be packed with ice despite lobster season being just around the corner. There is a real sense of urgency that this ice go as quickly as possible or an intervention as in the past for an ice compensation package for those impacted. It is essential that our fishers be able to earn a living and provide for their families.

I’m looking forward to getting a feed of fresh lobster from the Great Northern Peninsula. I believe local lobster tastes better.

Live Rural NL 

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North
@MitchelmoreMHA


Our Culinary Treats

In rural Newfoundland & Labrador “Sunday Dinner”, “Hot Dinner”, “Cooked Dinner” and “Boiled Dinner” are common terms used in reference to a meal at noon on Sunday.

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I will share with you how to prepare Sunday’s Dinner, since it is my favorite traditional Newfoundland meal. It is chicken or turkey with stuffing, potatoes, carrots, turnips, greens, cabbage, potatoes, gravy, peas pudding and our famous salt beef. We also have a selection of other puddings that may be served with the meal: bread pudding, raisin pudding (locally referred to as “figgy duff”), molasses pudding, blackberry, partridge berry and there are many others! My grandmother makes the best raisin puddings and molasses puddings. Yum!

SUNDAY DINNER

  • 1 Whole Chicken, Turkey, Moose Roast or other meat product
  • 1 cup yellow split peas
  • 6-8 medium potatoes
  • 6 carrots
  • 1 medium turnip (peel and slice)
  • 1 medium cabbage (cut in wedges)
  • Slices of slightly stale bread
  • Onion
  • Ground Pepper
  • Salt
  • Spices (thyme, basil or rosemary)
  • Butter
  1. Prepare stuffing by soaking slightly stale bread in water. Squeeze to remove excess water. Add melted butter, salt, black pepper and seasoning (basil, rosemary or thyme).
  2. Prepare chicken or meat, lightly salt. Place stuffing inside chicken, excess can be wrapped in foil. In a roasting pan, place chicken and add water. Cook on 350 F, lightly baste and add an onion for flavour.
  3. Soak salt meat overnight, drain and place in large cooking pot. Tie peas in cloth bag (locally referred to as “peas pudding bag”); however, a mason jar with a few holes punched at the top will also be sufficient. Put peas in pot with salt beef. Cover beef and peas with water. Heat to boiling, cover and simmer for 2 hours.
  4. Prepare vegetables. Small carrots and potatoes may be left whole, larger ones are to be cut in half. Slice turnip and cut cabbage into wedges. After meat and peas have cooked for 2-2.5 hours add vegetables and cook until tender, adding the cabbage last.
  5. Remove peas from bag, place in bowl and mash with butter and black pepper to make peas pudding.
  6. Remove salt meat and slice. Remove vegetables and place on platter and serve.

FIGGIE DUFF

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2 cups of flour
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 cup milk or water
  • 1 cup of raisins
  • Pinch of salt

Combine dry ingredients, add milk and egg. Put in a cloth or spring container and boil for two hours.

MOLASSES PUDDING

  • 1 cup of molasses
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • 1/2 cup hot water
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 3 cups flour

Mix together molasses, sugar and spices in a bowl. Dissolve baking soda in hot water. Add to first mixture, then add melted butter and raisins. Mix well. Add sifted flour a little at a time. Put in greased pudding mould and steam 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Many great talks or yarns happen around the kitchen table in rural Newfoundland, both in the past and still today.

Hope you enjoy!

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

“Fill Ya Boots” – Barry Penton Art

Barry Penton, is a realist artist that grew up on Fogo Island in rural Newfoundland & Labrador. His artwork illustrates brilliant colors and impeccable attention to detail. His art certainly appeals to me as a lover of all things rural.

My first encounter with this artist was via Facebook. A friend had posted the image, “Fill Ya Boots” below as part of a contest. I decided to “like” and “share” this image with hope of winning the original artwork. It was shared nearly 2,000 times. To my surprise, I got a message from the artist, that I had indeed won the contest and could pick up the piece of original artwork in Mount Pearl. After the passage of time, the artist was so kind to mail me this piece which currently hangs in my bedroom near another Outport piece of punts from Fogo Island. I plan to later place this piece at my office.

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The image reminds me of my own childhood, as we grew up wearing rubber boots. They were an essential item given the time we spent on the shoreline of Green Island Cove in search of sea life and adventure. Some days were filled with picking mussels, catching sea lice, searching for jellyfish, skipping rocks, building sand castles or hopping from exposed rock to rock. Sometimes however, we went over our boots and would have to do this traditional dumping of water. #greatmemories

The art brings a smile to my face. My upbringing is one that is very rural, despite spending a year of my university days in some of the largest cities in the world, travelling dozens of different countries and being immersed in many cultures, my heart is always in rural Newfoundland & Labrador. I am one of the lucky ones, able to continue to work and live rural.

“When you live in a place so long, you learn about the place, history and it’s people. Once you have been gone for long, you gain a new appreciation for home and how you love to remember it”. – Barry Penton

I want to thank Barry Penton for sharing your talents. I hope others will enjoy your art of rural Newfoundland & Labrador. If anyone is interested in learning more about the artist or purchase some of his artwork, you can visit: http://www.barrypentonart.bigcartel.com/.

Live Rural NL -

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

 

Baked Beans and Buttered Bread is a Traditional Scoff

What a delicious traditional meal yesterday’s supper turned out to be with homemade baked beans and a slice of homemade bread. Normally it would be beans and bologna (“Newfie steak”), but we substituted for ham and Zest mustard pickles.

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The one meal I would never eat as a child was baked beans, not even to taste them. I even lived and worked in London, England from January to September 2007 where I would get an English breakfast served everyday with a helping of beans. I would not even consider touching the stuff. It was not until a stopover in Belfast, Northern Ireland during December 2007 that I re-call ordering the traditional breakfast one last time before I would return the Czech Republic to complete my studies and then home to Newfoundland for the holidays. On my plate again, were the ever present baked beans, likely predicting their faith of being left behind. However, after rejecting them for twelve straight weeks that summer,  something in me decided I should give them a try, especially when in the UK. It might have been my last time to experience that traditional cuisine. Who knew when I would return? To my surprise, I did not detest them.

Why then for 22 years had I been so unwilling to try them? I guess there are always decisions we make around our likes and our dislikes as children when it comes to food. I never liked spaghetti sauce, just “plain noodles for me”, or gravy, many of the condiments and a few others. Today, a nice helping of well-crafted sauce adds so much flavour and excites the taste buds. There is nothing I can think of now that is an outright NO when I look at a menu or pick up ingredients at  a grocery store. Taste is certainly acquired and if at first you’re not quite sure, then I would suggest to try it at least another time.

Expand and broaden your palate, especially when it comes to traditional Newfoundland foodstuffs.

Live Rural NL -
 
Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

Mummer’s Walk A Big Hit at Green Island Cove

Nearly forty mummers braved a -16 temperature with a wind chill that reached -31 to keep the tradition of mummering alive and well with the 4th Annual Mummer’s Walk at the Green Island Cove Lion’s Club.

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Mummers came from near and far from communities of Anchor Point, Savage Cove, Flower’s Cove, Green Island Cove, Green Island Brook, St. Lunaire-Griquet and many citizens from surrounding communities visiting the Lion’s Club, such as Sandy Cove, Deadman’s Cove and even from mainland Canada to see what the Mummer’s Walk so all about and enjoy the fun!

4th Annual    Mummer’s Walk

The rig-up started shortly after 2 PM and just after 2:30 PM, Sabrina and I started the event noting the original idea of hosting a community event that would bring people together and would encourage more active mummering in rural Newfoundland & Labrador, especially since we remembered large groups of mummers from our childhood.

The first was held in Flowers Cove, followed by Anchor Point and last years was in Savage Cove.

This years event all started with the talented Way Brothers performed a couple of traditional tunes on the guitar and accordion, including the famous Simini tune, “The Mummer’s Song“.

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The group broke out into dance on the floor. It was great to see such a crowd turn-out and participate in the Mummer’s Walk and a number of youth watching the festivities. These are the future generations to learn the tradition and pass them on.

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Due to high wind we opted to get rides to the head of the Cove and walk back to the Lion’s Club. Some Mummer’s jumped in the pans of trucks and we were off…

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The residents, especially seniors were perched at their windows anxiously waiting for the long line of mummers to pass by their homes.

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They were people waiting in vehicles, residents waving from windows or door steps, excited to see the large group of mummers. A group this large, likely not seen for decades in the community of Green Island Cove.

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The walk was a lot of fun. We would all return to the Green Island Cove Lion’s Club and have hot chocolate, Purity Syrup and Chocolates for a treat. It was a great time to mingle and talk about going mummering tonight or another in Christmas.

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So if you hear knocks on your door, please let the friendly mummers into your home and enjoy the tradition that is forever in our hearts and souls, making rural Newfoundland and Labrador that perfect place to celebrate Christmas and the place we call home.

Below is a sampling of some other photos I managed at the event:

A big thank you to all who took the time to dress up and participate, the Green Island Cove Lion’s Club for providing the venue, all the visitors who came to the event and watch, Ryan and Monty for playing a couple of tunes, Loomis for coordinating music, logistics and bringing lots of spirit and to anyone else who helped in any way. I encourage you all to go Mummering this Christmas. I’ll be doing my part to continue to keep the tradition alive.

We’ll keep you all posted on the 5th Annual Mummer’s Walk in the New Year….

Live Rural NL -

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

Santa’s Gingerbread House – A New Tradition at the Mitchelmore’s

Traditions become steeped in our culture and are passed on from generation to generation. Sometimes they are long standing, but sometimes they begin and will continue to be passed on to the next generation. Unlike some families that have built homemade gingerbread houses or homes from kits for years, my mom and I started building the basic gingerbread house just a couple of years ago. Here is our house from last year:

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We enjoyed building the gingerbread home and spending time together – the teamwork it required to make the icing, holding the gingerbread together and strategically placing the candy. It was decided we would add this to our list of family traditions each time we are together for the holidays.

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Here is our finished product this year: Santa’s Gingerbread house, tree, barn and reindeer sleigh.

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Although my schedule is extremely busy, one has to make time for family and continue with our traditions. We got up early and this was our first task after breakfast.

Tonight, after a day of activities we will watch my favourite Christmas movie, “It’s a Wonderful Life”.

I’d love to hear about your family traditions. Please post in the comments section if you make gingerbread houses, sing carols, or go mummering. Keep your family traditions alive and pass them on to your children and embrace adopting new ones.

Live Rural NL -

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

 

 

 

Rural Roots, including Seal Hunt Proudly on Display at MHA Mitchelmore’s Office

 

 

 

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I’m a believer in all things rural, including the seal harvest. I wear my father’s seal skin boots that are more than 15 years old and last year purchased a seal skin coat. I could give it away a dozen times a day from all the people I meet that would also like to have one. More must be done to make these products more readily available to people of the province. The seal skin tie I have, which certainly has “heart” was purchased for $60 from GNP Craft Producers in my District. They have a website http://www.gnpcrafts.ca. They also make great belts for $40, bow ties, slippers, mittens and more. Let’s continue to show our support for the seal harvest, as it is humane, sustainable and environmentally friendly.

As the blog simply states, “Live Rural” and “Experience the Great Northern Peninsula” is all about learning, understanding and sharing my rural roots with the world.

For those who have dropped by our constituency office in St. Anthony, the public gallery has an array of local art from a French Shore Tapestry, photographed seal by Chris Patey, hooked rug, sweat lodge artwork, icebergs, Grenfell embroidery, painted purity products, dories, fish and many pieces that reflect our rural region. There is a collage of images from across the Great Northern Peninsula.

However, my office at the Confederation Building in St. John’s, NL is no different. It includes many handmade items and pieces of art that I have made myself or purchased from others. I am always searching for as much local stuff as possible.

There is a lovely Chris Patey piece of Iceberg Photography on the northern tip, with a magnifying glass and fish handle, La Mousses (The French Fisherman) that I’ve been told resembles me is from The Guardian Gift Shop at the French Shore Interpretation Centre in Conche, but was made by Loretta Decker of L’Anse aux Meadows. Outport NL by Candace Conchrane is next to a handmade glass plate made at the St. Anthony College of the North Atlantic. The fused glass polar bear comes from the Grenfell Heritage Shoppe in St. Anthony. There is a stuffed seal that was given to me as a Christmas present, as well as a fish and smaller seal.

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Here is an explanation of the Gallery below:

I purchased art from Bruce Pilgrim, originally from Main Brook, the former Englee Plant which was framed by his wife Maureen, owner of Island Images Gallery and Framing Shop. It is very pleasing after all the lobbying, letter writing, petitions, telephone calls and more that Government issued a clean-up order which resulted in $1.7M to remove and re-mediate this site.

The iceberg was painted by myself in three hours when I took a class with George Bussey, originally of St. Lunaire-Griquet. I enjoyed this immensely and encourage others to take it up as a hobby.

The hooked rug, I did as well under the instruction of Sabrina Gaulton of Anchor Point. It took about 50 hours to make this tiny rug. I would like to do another, when time permits. Thus far, time has not permitted.

The “Lonely Harbour” is a piece I purchased at the Bits’n Pieces Cafe in Conche from local Natalie Byrne.

The splitting table imagery reminds me of Noddy Bay or Raleigh. It was done by William Bartlett of St. Lunaire-Griquet.

The polar bears were bought at Shoreline Flower’s N’ Crafts in Sandy Cove and the ax on the chopping block a gift from Port Hope Simpson.

The “Return of the Sealers” is my most recent purchase from the Savage Cove Come Home Year. It is a Linda Coles piece, who is originally from Savage Cove.

Rural Newfoundland & Labrador surrounds my work space every day. I am proud of my rural roots and continue to…

Live Rural NL -

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

 

 

Missing Grandma’s Raisin Pudding…

I always manage to have a big helping of my Grandmother Mitchelmore’s raisin pudding. It has that great vanilla flavour, bountiful amount of raisins and texture of sweetness, creating a perfect pudding – ones only grandmothers seem to know how to prepare. The raisin pudding during a Sunday dinner at Nan’s house is truly a treat. Maybe the art of food for traditional meals get enhanced by the younger generation over time.

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It has been quite awhile since I’ve had the pleasure of Nan’s homemade soups, puddings, bread and other treats. While on vacation this past August, I got news that my grandmother at the ripe age of 81 years had broken her leg.

My Nan is a very active senior, as she maintains large flower beds, vegetable gardens, does crafts, makes quilts and also does quite a bit of travelling. Although, the past few weeks have been the quiet road to recovery, no doubt in the coming weeks she’ll be back on her feet as busy as ever.

I’m certainly looking forward to sitting with her, chatting and enjoying her traditional meals in the near future. The time we spend with our family in rural Newfoundland & Labrador, will be treasured memories.

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Live Rural NL -

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

 

Preparing the Seal Skin

The tradition of making sealskin boots has been around since seals inhabited the waters along the Strait of Belle Isle. For generations those who came before us participated in the hunt and the several week process of bark-tanning the skin to turn into a product.

Each summer, these laced in seal skins are commonplace at the Steven’s homestead. I am quite pleased to see this tradition continue. My father knew this process and the techniques used to soak, stretch and tan. I still have a pair of his sealskin boots, in which I wear in winter. I too would like to learn the seal skin boot making process.

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There is a book about seal skin boot making on the Great Northern Peninsula. It is entitled out of necessity. It is available at GNP Craft Producers in Shoal Cove East (www.gnpcrafts.ca).

Sabrina Lisa Fashion Design also believes in environmentally sustainable and all natural products. The sealskin wallet depicted below is one I use every day. It does not contain dyes, chemicals and was handmade.

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We should keep our traditions of the Great Northern Peninsula alive. More people should learn the process and also support entrepreneurs, craftspeople and the rural economy. We have a wealth of talented people and experiences.

Live Rural NL -

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

The Jannies were here…

Growing up we always referred to concept of mummering as jannying. I am not sure how it came about that we adopted the term “Mummer”. It may have had something to do with Simini’s iconic tune, “The Mummer’s Song” produced in 1984. It became a mega-hit and helped revive a dying tradition. One can hear the tune and watch a video of mummering that has more than 200,000 views.

Musicians and local artists have significant influence on popular culture and the way in which communities consume culture and local lore. Although the tradition of mummering is not as vibrant as it once was, I think it is one of those traditions that is here to stay in rural Newfoundland & Labrador, especially on the Great Northern Peninsula.

This Christmas we saw the jannies going around visiting at Christmas night! I have also seen multiple postings on Facebook highlighting janny visits, videos of people stepping ‘er down and enjoying the tradition. We have the opportunity to utilize the social media to share and encourage more active participation in a tradition that was once common for all ruralites to do during the holidays.

The jannies were here last night…

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If you are interested in jannying this Christmas, there is still time! Tonight marks a couple of mummer’s dances at Thirsty’s Lounge and Flower’s Cove Lion’s Centre. As well, there are still two nights left to Christmas – so get your bed sheets, rubber boots and pillow cases ready! Keep up the tradition right up to Old Christmas Night.

Live Rural NL -

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

MHA visits GNP Crafts – Purchases Seal Skin Products

My father was a sealer. He would prepare the seal skins over a several week process, soak them in chopped pieces of bark and ensure they were tanned to perfection. It is more than 13 years later and I still proudly wear the seal skin boots made due to his hard work and dedication to the tradition.

In the photo above, I try on a seal skin vest. Although, it was not my size. As my mother would say, “you’ll have to eat a few more figgy puddings”. I did try on the seal skin belt, which fit perfectly. I could not resist but to purchase it. A number of people have since complimented me on it. This organization is evidence that there is a market for seal skin products and there always will be no matter how many countries that close their border to the import of this product.

Santa gave me a pair of seal skin slippers for Christmas. I have since purchased a second pair for the Office at the Confederation Building. This local social enterprise is ensuring that seal skin products remain a hallmark of our culture and tradition. I am looking forward to picking up my order next week as they have opted to make a custom skinny tie for me.

In 2011, I wrote a letter in retaliation of Ellen DeGeneres‘ stance on the seal hunt. I stand by that position.  It is time for us to take control of our own destiny and depend less on the global market place to purchase our product but to focus on a co-op or social enterprise model that creates local jobs, teaches long-lived skills, pass on traditions and educate people of the economic and social benefits sealing has had to the people of the Great Northern Peninsula and other parts of Canada.

If you would like to find out more about GNP Craft Producers, visit www.gnpcrafts.ca.

Live Rural NL -

Christopher C. Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

Mummer’s Walk & Food Drive a Success!

Mummer

The Mummer’s Walk & Food Drive held on December 29, 2010 at the Flower’s Cove Lions Centre is touted as a big success. The event started at 2:00 PM with mummers finding their way to the centre, dropping off food items for the Straits Food Sharing Association and ready to have fun.

A total of 20 people shared in the traditional spirit by taking time out of their day to partake in this regional community economic development (CED) activity by dressing up. The mummers along with many citizens showed their kindness by donating to their local food bank, which became the recipient of many staple items consisting of flour, sugar, cereals, can foods and other necessities. This comes at a time when food banks face severe shortages and are greatly needed.

Organizer’s Christopher Mitchelmore, Emerging Leaders co-Chair (Canadian Community Economic Development Network or cCEDnet) and cCEDnet Intern, Sabrina Gaultan decided it was well overdue to instill greater uptake, creating a rural revival of this once flourishing Christmastime tradition and support a worthwhile local cause. Christopher had noted that a community event around a revival of mummering should take place during the holidays. Some discussion led to a number of ideas, but with a very short time frame it was agreed to start with a small activity and enable it to grow. This led Ms. Gaultan to become very busy, as she created a visually appealing poster, handled necessary logistics by contacting local food sharing association, RCMP detachment and Lion’s Centre. In a short timeframe the marketing, location and partnerships were created. Rural regions can improve by becoming more organized. As residents, let us focus on unique traditions and plan more activities and events in our regions for all of us to enjoy. It all starts with an idea!

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Photos below will illustrate the time had by all! There was Purity syrup, Jam Jams, cookies and chocolates served as a treat. No visit from the mummers would be complete without a “bucklin’ the floor” to Simini’s famous Mummer’s song and having those in attendance play a guessing game to figure out those in disguise. Like the song, “there were big ones, small ones, tall ones and thin, men dressed as women and women dressed as men”! A highlight for me was to see some small children participating in the activity, probably for the very first time. One mummer brought a sign that stated, “Janny in Training”. Absolutely perfect!
 
At 2:20 PM the mummers were off for a walk around the harbourfront area of Flower’s Cove, cheered on by the Mummer’s song. Along the trek spectator’s from local businesses, houses and vehicles wavedand cheered the mummers on! The Mummer’s walk concluded at 2:50 PM at the Flower’s Cove Lions Centre. 
 

Treats for Mummers

Local community leaders, volunteers and participants were discussing the potential for next year’s walk. The excitement was there to better promote and continue the Mummer’s Walk. It is very positive to see this type of outcome. Maybe 2011 will bring forth a Mummer’s Ball? There is all sorts of potential for this tradition to be revived. With the right partnerships formed our sense of community with continue to grow and prosper. I commend all those who actively participated, came to watch, donated food items, supported and helped in any way build on the spirit of our community and made this event a success! We look forward to what this year’s event will bring. Happy New Year to All!

 
Additional photos will be posted to Facebook Group “Live Rural Newfoundland & Labrador (NL)”. Additional articles to follow on Christmas Mumming origins…..stay tuned.
 
Live Rural NL – Christopher Mitchelmore

Guess Who?Janny in Training & Guess Who?

 

Janny in Training & Guess Who?

Christmas Traditions

The Holiday season is to be spent with loved ones. Sometimes they are not always with us in a physical sense, but are in our hearts.

This Christmas will be the 12th on celebrated without my father. He is still present and ever remembered. I will not forget all the times we would spend together searching for that freshly cut Christmas tree. My father would take extra care in trimming some of the branches. Not to mention drilling holes and filling spaces it branches. Our tree had to be very full of life! As a family we all had a part in the decorating. It was tradition. Over time that has changed as we have an artificial tree, which certainly does not have the same appeal but does the job. It is now my time to string the lights (something I never wanted to do as a child, guess it is part of growing).

I remember hanging lights outside. My father would give me the task of organizing all the lights, creating a pattern of red, green, yellow, blue. It was a challenge with all the bulbs that needed replacing and having to use a potatoe or vaseline sometimes to remove them. My father trusted me and as a team we would get those lights up all around the house. Last year I gave up on the old strings and started buying some LED lights (still multi-coloured, of course) and have added again this year. They are up hanging with plastic clips. I smile as there are remains of staples on some shingles (reminding me of assisting dad) :).

We always delivered presents on Christmas Eve, ate pizza at my aunt and uncle’s house and went to church late at night before leaving milk and cookies for Santa and some carrots for his reindeer. Christmas morning after opening our presents would be spent with grandma and grandpa opening their gifts.

Times have changed as my mom usually works Christmas Eve, so I am typically tasked with delivering presents (sometimes with my sister). This year my aunt and uncle will spend Christmas Eve with their kids and grandkids away, so no pizza with them. It has been several years since we all attended church service or even spent Christmas together as a family. As well, my grandpa passed away this year.

This year 2010, my sister and her husband will be home for the holidays. For me it is my first time since 2006 and long overdue. We will create new traditions, while hanging on to some old ones, which include the lunch for Santa!

Think about your Christmas times with friends and families, old traditions and new ones! It is just two weeks and change away….so enjoy! Make new memories today, tomorrow and always.

From Live Rural NL – CCM

CURRA Researcher Pam Hall: Encyclopedia of Local Knowledge

 This summer I had the pleasure of meeting CURRA Researcher Pam Hall. She is a remarkable individual with adept artistic talent and her initiative will help us all continue to experience and Live Rural Newfoundland & Labrador.

The following article is being distributed from “The Western Shorefast Fall 2010″ Newsletter:

My [Pam Hall's] PhD research explores art as a form of making and moving knowledge. Traditionally, we have seen science as the main and often the only source of knowledge in western society, and my research will work to expand, deepen and make visible many others forms of knowledge that have been undervalued and consequently under-used. My work with CURRA will involve a major collaborative creative project that will take place in communities throughout Bonne Bay and the Great Northern Peninsula. It is called Towards an Encyclopaedia of Local Knowledge and hopefully will include participants from school children to elders, who will share their own knowledge to be included in the Encyclopedia.

Often, we think of “knowledge” in narrow ways that exclude many kinds of knowing and many kinds of knowers; my work as a scholar and an artist begins with the assumption that everyone knows something interesting and important about where they live and how they live there. My goal is to make that knowledge visible so it can be shared and used within and beyond the communities where it emerges.

Even children “know things” about their homes and communities, whether it be which are the fastest paths home or where there are good places to hide or where important things happened. Fishers and hunters know a lot about their local ecology but also about how to make things, find things, or interpret the weather. Some women know not just where to find berries, but how to preserve them: some know not just who their relatives are, but where they came from, and what their ancestors did in previous generations. Schoolteachers, convenience store workers, grandparents, mechanics, teenagers, union officials, waitresses, nurses, fishers, truck drivers, and carpenters, ALL have particular ways of knowing their place and know particular things about it.

Everyone has some expert knowledge and Towards an Encyclopaedia of Local Knowledge will gather ecological, social, historical, technical, material and cultural knowledge from voluntary “experts” up and down the west coast of the Province. It will build on, expand and extend some of the community-specific knowledge that already exists and make it visible, alongside new knowledge -so it can be shared and presented- honoured and celebrated.

Everyone who participates will be acknowledged as a co-author, and many kinds of traditionally “invisible” forms of knowledge will be included. For example, local and CURRA researchers have already begun to gather fishermen’s ecological knowledge (FEK), which, in the Encyclopaedia can be set beside I am excited to begin the search for women and men up and down the Northern Peninsula who will share their time and knowledge to help me create the Encyclopaedia of Local Knowledge.For more information on my work as an artist, visit http://www.pamhall.ca and for more information, contact me directly at pamhall@nf.sympatico.ca.Pam Hall, CURRA

other land and sea use knowledge about where things and creatures are in the landscape, and how they are used, prepared, preserved. It will also include knowledge about hand work and harvesting practices, about relationships and ancestry, about settlement patterns and knitting patterns, about boat building and gardening and pickling and preserving and where things come from and travel to. Essentially, it will contain all the local knowledge folks on the Northern Peninsula are willing to share!

 

 

A Sunset over the Horizon…

Yesterday, I stared out my kitchen window in awe at the magnificant sunset that was on the horizon overlooking the Strait of Belle Isle.

You see the kitchen brings me great comfort. If represents more than scents and smells, it has a childhood of memories of mother preparing a nice meal, baking my favourite banana bread, preserving berries, dates, beets or preparing homemade pickles.

I stopped to reflect for a moment, as I sipped tea out of Aunt Elsie’s cup (thanks again Melissa, it is surely a treasure and will get great use through the years) and put down my book, “Honorary Indian” by Sandi Boucher. This book has been uplifting, inspirational and attitude changing. I highly recommend it, if you would like to feel more positive, empowered, gain inner strengh or about life in general (www.sandiboucher.ca). Thank you Sandi! I just stared at the water, as the waves were silent.

Earlier that day I walked along the shoreline from each end of my community, stared and smiled. You see, I can just reach out and touch “the Big Land” Labrador and enjoy their lights every single night. I hear the waves crash when the wind blows, the icebergs as Spring breaks, whales, seals and seabirds visit frequently. Moreover, I hear the motors as fishing boats leave the wharf to attend their nets and secure their daily catch. It is quite magical to experience the life that exists from the water!

Today, I think of my father, my grandfather and their fathers before them…all made their living from the sea. We have much to be thankful for in my small community….as I go to bed each night and wake up each morning and look out the kitchen window, see the water and think…these are the kinds of things dreams are made from…

The water represents a special place in my heart, quite possibly all Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. I will not take such a treasure for granted.

Take time to find your special place and keep your dreams alive,

CCM

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