len and claudia: the journey continues, photos taken and not taken

Highlights of coming to Helen’s caboose have to include the flicker sitting calmly on a sign warning people to keep vehicles on the road from that point. a photo op missed, except in memory.20160927_093315_resized_1

Helen is at the far end of the East Coast Trail. the road is terrible; it’s a good thing Helen has a good vehicle. But once arrived at the caboose, all that seems irrelevant. The view is pristine, the air clear, the waves roaring. The next day we start climbing the trail.You are well aware Len, what a lazy wimp I can be. Nothing stops you, or Helen, and besides, there are partridgeberries to pick, and me to train as a picker.

You know what a lazy wimp I can be. Nothing stops you, Len, or Helen, and besides, there are partridgeberries to pick, and me to train as a picker. The trail starts just up the hill above where the lighthouse used to be. When Helen shows me the photo of the beautiful old building, we are all sad because of the ways of modern humans, sad because the lighthouse does not exist anymore, that it was beautiful and supported a family. Another photo I haven’t taken, that bare area where the house used to be.There’s a plaque at the start of another trail that shows where there had been a church. Seven pews, that’s all. I saw a photo of it in a book at the Pouch Cove Library. The area is rich in the preservation of its history.

But we started to climb to the trail with its beautiful views, stepping over roots, over twisted dry tuckamore roots, until Helen discovered partridgeberries. Well, wasn’t our climbing slowed down after that; our eyes were peeled to the ground for more patches, until we came to a cove, which ordered us to stop and take notice. We climbed higher until we could look down on Biscaan Cove and the caboose, Mad Moll flashing in the cove.

Another day and another part of the trail, this time after rain which enhanced colours.  A little mushroom that looked like a rose… moss on a rotting log.mushroom-roseSpruce bark in the witchy wood captivated me, as did all manner of berries and rocks.

best-witchy-barkYou and Helen great at pointing out the different berries, saving eight late blueberries for me.

Then came the evening when the solar energy system stopped with a terrible whining sound. Gerry Skinner came round and fixed the problem, leaving Helen with more tips about the system, and the two of us with story upon story, from the illegality of solar power anywhere in the province where there is access to electricity. He’s a grand storyteller and we enjoyed the time he spent with us. Here he is, and Helen taking a pic of teh solution before she closes up the bench over the batteries or teh storage cells or whatever they are…


Leaving was hard, saying goodbye to Helen, and to the tiny pink buds of the crawling juniper.jumiper-buds-3

But then we had to go, and set off on the road to Fogo.  I was early for that ferry. I didn’t mind a bit. I had stopped by the side of a road and found a tiny wild orchid that is, perhaps, galearis rotundifolia, which was exciting. I know I wrote about this before, but it was on my mind again today, such delicate loveliness among the weeds.

What’s not to love about driving on a ferry and being asked, “Got yer ticket, my darling?” The ferry is huge, and as always with ferries, I am intrigued. I love the play of shape and light wherever you turn when the sun is going down. ferry-1Early on I catch sight of, in the dying light, The Fogo Inn. I’ve been interested in it, in seeing it, in watching videos about it, in its owner, ever since I first heard about it. And there it was, on the rocks, barely lit. Like a holy thing on an altar. The light shifted and I was driving in deep dusk among, supposedly, caribou.

Fogo Island Inn
Fogo Island Inn

Caribou. They are supposed to be all over this island, but I can’t catch sight of one. Two people staying at this B&B claimed to have seen Winston J. Osmond, local painter, proprietor of The Herring Cove Studio at Shoal Bay (pronounced Shawlbee) and carver, also known for his bakeapple, marshberry, partridgeberry and blueberry jams, walking along the road carrying the head of a caribou, just hunted, but the sign will probably be all I will ever see of a caribou. Or else this little bobblehead, sighted on the dashboard of a man who looks as if he’d hunted them for the past hundred years. His toothless grin when I asked permission to take a photo.only-caribou-im-likely-to-seeMany interesting things here, like The Flat Coffee Café and Roastery, Brimstone Head, Fogo’s Brimstone Head is supposed to be one of the four corners of the flat earth.  The café is closed after tourist season, but its roasted beans are sold all over the island, at the Fogo Inn and on the Ferry. Good stuff.

flat-earth-museumAnd on to Foley’s Place at Tilting where owner Tom Earl is known for what he produces in his kitchen… partridgeberry scones, and on special occasions, seafood meals of cod, shrimp, scallops and crab taken from waters right here at Tilting, and garden produce from local gardens. It’s a great place to be washed up, right at the start of Turpin’s Trail, and a museum full of surprising things. I posted pics from the trail last time because I was so struck by its beauty, but there is so much more to it and this area. Len feels he is very close to his roots here, and is happy.

More next time…Have to get to bed so I can wake sooner to those scones…






The 2016 Journey of Arctic Twilight in Newfoundland

So here we go Leonard Budgell; you wanted us to travel together so now we are, my spirit and your spirit. I met a second cousin of yours, Florence Eveleigh, known as Flossie. She and you have the same eyes, bright and warm.

Okay, here is our travel diary so far: First our reading with Helen Forsey at the Writers’ Guild in St. Johns. We heard writing that was stimulating.  You loved the Newfoundland accents from the Avalon and Berens peninsulas. I did too.

But coming ‘home’ to Biscaan Cove up at Cape St, Francis was so special; the caboose, even the excitement when Helen’s solar power system died. We plugged our ears against the whine of it. There was a fire in the stove and a Coleman stove for tea and soup and we were all quite content. You enjoyed Gerry Skinner’s tales so much when he came to repair the system that he told tales for hours and did not want to get paid.

Mad Moll just a little bit mad
Mad Moll just a little bit mad

The Cove. Didn’t we sit on the pillowy grass that is bent from the wind, and spend a morning with Mad Moll.  You and I know that Mad Moll is just a huge wave breaking on a shoal in the Bay, but she became almost a person as we watched her try and try again to get over that shoal. Actually Len, I’ve gotten an email from Helen who says Moll was quite put out that we left. You can’t win, can you; we had to go.

I figured out that the insect we saw at Po and Bob’s house was a crane fly. Here’s Po’s picture of it. And afterwards that double rainbow over Shoe Cove! I’ll have to see if Bob got a good photo of that…

Carne Fly by Po Chun Lau
Crane Fly by Po Chun Lau

Such memories of the reading at Pouch Cove, of ‘knowing’ now that Pouch is pronounced ‘pooch’…the room full of people who loved your writing, your stories, your knowledge, your respect for First Nations people. They got you, you see, got your very spirit and wanted more. So much more that all the books of Arctic Twilight sold out, and I had none for the rest of the tour.  I made emergency orders the next day, books to come here to Foley’s Place at Tilting, and some to Nova Scotia for the Bridgewater reading.

Cake to honour Len Budgell's Arctic Twilight. Thank you Pouch Cove!
Cake to honour Len Budgell’s Arctic Twilight. Thank you Pouch Cove!

Here’s the caboose, a reminder of that lovely place, and of lovely Helen, our host.  Wasn’t she great?  She is a pioneer type, knows everything about her environment, how to scavenge for berries, clamber trails, stack wood, gather rainwater.

Original Caboose from the Newfoundland Railway
Original Caboose from the Newfoundland Railway

Enough maybe for tonight… I’ll do another Diary entry when I get back from the Change Islands and Summerford libraries where your words will have their usual effect on listeners. They will be entranced by stories of Maggie, the war horse at North West River, your knowing boats and water from such a young age, your stories about the nurse who embarrassed you no end when you were a 12-year-old behind the Hudson’s Bay Company Store counter, and about Israel Williams and the owl.  It’s a bit complicated getting to these places because of ferry schedules, but you have always loved being on water. We’ll chat, as we always did. Maybe about the next book.


More soon…