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Been To Newfoundland - Got Way More Than The T-Shirt!
8/28/2011 11:49:01 AM
Though we had 'come from away' we felt totally at home as we travelled the beautiful province of Newfoundland.
I’ve finally got some credentials to put after my name. Apparently I’ve had them for the past 41 years and didn’t know it: Edie Batstone, C.F.A. Pretty impressive, eh? It doesn’t stand for ‘Certified Farmer’s Assistant – really! It actually stands for: ‘Come From Away’ – It’s what Newfoundlanders call those of us who have never lived on the Island. My husband and his sister are ‘Tommy Cods’ children of Newfoundlanders, but were born away.
This is just a very small bit of the neat trivia that I picked up on our two-week trip to Newfoundland – I also picked up about 10 extra pounds of weight! It would be hard to match the generosity of those lovely people. Not only do they welcome you with warm hearts and hands, but with heaping plates of the most delicious food. We feasted on cod cakes, fisherman’s brews, fish chowder, traditional boiled dinner, fish and chips, and all of the wonderful trimmings that went with them, including partridgeberry pie! My body is now suffering from ‘fish-withdrawal’!
We encountered spontaneously warm people all of way up the coast from St. John’s to Brigus, Harbour Grace, Lower Island Cove, Dildo, Rocky Harbour, Gros Morne, Cowhead, and Englee; and then back down to Mainbrook and Norris Point; to Nippers Harbour, Springdale, Newtown, Gambo, and back to St. John’s. It was a beautiful blur of amazing scenery and wonderful people. There was little need to stop to ask for directions – people would see your searching gaze and come up to find out where you were from and to offer assistance. Most times this resulted in great conversations. Invariably, there would be a connection with a relative or friend from home; and, uncannily, there seemed to be organic farmers everywhere!
The city of St. John’s has got an atmosphere unlike any that I had encountered before. While it is quite large and has all of the amenities of any other large city, it has retained a home-town feel that is very unique. I have never seen so much colour and character in a city or town: in the homes and museums, B & Bs, basilicas and churches, and shops. Of course there was the inevitable photo op at the film-site of ‘The Republic Of Doyle’ television series, and a great evening of music and laughter at the pubs on George St.
It was ‘Come Home’ celebrations in Englee that brought us to Newfoundland, and the designation of the Barnes House as a heritage museum. This was my mother-in-law’s family home, and we were honoured to be there with my husband’s sister and her husband to take part in the official ribbon-cutting ceremony. Although I had never set foot in Newfoundland before, we were all welcomed and made to feel very special. The rest of the trip was no less enjoyable, with scenic tour boat rides, where the up-beat crews doubled as talented musicians; and there were visits with wonderful cousins that we had known mostly by name, or from a rare visit.
To get so much out of such a diverse province in just two weeks was thanks to the passion and organizing skills of my sister-in-law, Barb. Onwards, our traveling guru -
and, though I am merely a C.F.A., I would like to pass along the wish for good luck that resounded around us all along the way: ‘long may your big jib draw!’
‘Some folks say cheerio when they wave the hand to you,
The English say goodbye, the French they say adieu;
But when Newfoundlanders part, this wish leaps from the heart:
Long may your big jib draw!’
- Arthur R. Scammell (his complete song is available on youtube)
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