A Conception of beauty

Trip Start Jun 06, 2004
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Trip End Jun 30, 2004


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Flag of Canada  , Newfoundland,
Monday, June 28, 2004

It is pouring rain outside. Perhaps inspired by the abundance of water, or just by the level of grime on our bodies, we both shower ecstatically. Holly makes delicious toast and we meet her attractive boyfriend, Michael. Despite the rain, Henry gives each of the girls a ride on Gzowski, and Ben issues a charming invitation to me to share his painting. Evidently my artistic skills meet with his approval, because he then cuddles up to me on the couch and kisses me, much to Holly's surprise and amusement. All the children are very cute. Robin is out-going and a natural biker, according to Henry. Ariel is more quiet. She and Henry play guitar and she is very good. She must get her musicality from Holly, who is a notable singer. There is a colourful poster on the wall from one of her gigs, "Wimmin Singin", with a wild comic chanteuse belting out a song with head thrown back and scarlet nipples shooting straight up. Must have been a great night if the poster is anything to go by! Holly urges Henry to sing, but he is seized with a sudden fit of shyness and isn't at his best.

Although we are enjoying an easy conversation, I don't want to impose on Holly too much, and I am eager to see more of Newfoundland. The children are about to go off to their dad's, and this is clearly Holly & Michael's time to themselves. She gracious says they will likely go to Michael's and we can come and go as we please. But Henry makes another attempt to contact a friend of a friend of ours, Gary, and finds him home. He immediately invites us to come to his cottage on Conception Bay for the night. This is a great solution all round, and Gary offers to come over in his truck to guide us.

The rain is letting up, but I decide to ride with Gary in the truck anyway, letting Henry follow on the bike. We go to Gary's town house first. It is filled with exquisite china, art and antiques. The basement holds an enormous wine and beer-making operation. Gary is affable and happy to show us around. He has known our friend Jim since they were boys in Ontario. Even though there are so many beautiful things to see in the house, we are happy to head out on a scenic route through Holyrood, Avondale and Cupids to South River. A huge house there is shared by Gary and his wife Marion and a bunch of friends, several of whom are already there.

We hungrily eat a late lunch of salad, meat, cheese and homemade bread in the communal dining room, with merriement all round. We have a big bedroom to ourselves with a bathroom right beside it. The friends plan to renovate the house to be a bed & breakfast, and it is astounding how many rooms there are. Finding one's way around takes a bit of getting used to, and I anxiously memorize the way to our room, knowing my propensity for getting lost. Some of the rooms in the basement are full of boxes of unfinished guitar necks. Gary works in a guitar factory, and these are faulty necks, or leftovers. He has a complicated plan to make them into something else. I would like to ride around more on the bike now that it is sunny, but Henry is still too tired, and I grumpily agree to go for a walk to the beach, feeling that I am hardly seeing anything of Newfoundland after spending so much to get here. But the beach is lovely, and we stroll a loop past big boathouses and a graveyard.

Back at the house I read for a while. Everyone else has gone. Gary and Marion take us on a car tour through Cupids, Brigus, North River, Bare Needs, Port de Grave and Hibb's Cove. The villages cling to rocky bays, taking meagre shelter from the brooding giants of sea and wilderness on either side. There are some pretty houses in Brigus. This is a treat, as most of the dwellings here are quite utilitarian. God's works are clearly more important than man's in Newfoundland. The harbours are crammed with fishing boats, which look strangely truncated compared to ours. The weather turns drizzly again, which they say is good for bringing out a kind of herring that whales feed on. Sure enough, I glimpse a vast gray back. We stop and watch for a while, but nothing more than the back ever surfaces. However, I am happy now and feel I have had a much better sight of the province.

We see some vintage cars on the way back to a roast beef dinner with potatoes, carrots and rapee (pronounced rappay), which turn out to be turnip greens. Rapee was what Rapunzel's mother craved when she was pregnant, starting all the trouble with the witch who owned the garden where it grew, and causing her to name her daughter Rapunzel. I never knew what rapee was, so I'm glad to have my curiosity satisfied! We pull out the map and plan routes for the rest of the trip and I catch up on my journal. I am feeling really sad about being so close to the end of the trip How I wish I could ride back with Henry!
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