A future with love, not fear: D – Part 4. A Thistle and Bee story.

arrows-1834859_1280

Since getting in to “The Hive”, D feels like a whole new, completely different person. For the first time, in her adult life, she had access to health care, regular meals, her own bed, and clean clothes. It has shown her how she could live without cigarettes, drugs, or alcohol.

It is not without responsibility. She goes to meetings to learn how to deal with her plaguing issues. However, a couple of instances stands out in her mind. D was recently going to a GED class and there, in plain sight, was a guy selling dope. The school knew the guy was selling but didn’t do anything about it. She knew she couldn’t stay there. Temptation is everywhere, even where it would be considered “safe.”

Looking for a safe place, she then took herself to a church and right outside there, people were smoking dope. Everywhere she turned, there were drugs to be had. Fortunately, her ride was waiting, and she was able to avoid temptation.

This underscores a greater problem: the easy availability of drugs. When one can score at a public school, a church, it’s not difficult to understand why the problem is so rampant. “Addiction don’t discriminate, child, adult, no difference.” Age doesn’t factor into it either. D is right, she witnessed a 13-year-old shooting right into their hand and foot. How could that not bring up terrible memories?

Thistle and Bee is helping D to learn to love and respect herself. Before coming to The Hive, she didn’t care when she was high and wasn’t ashamed to be out on the streets. But her family did care and was ashamed for her. They knew she was using, their mother was a junkie, a crackhead. But now her future is in front of her and she feels like a new baby, being birthed.

D is experiencing freedom and feels like a child in a candy store with so much to see and now something to live for. She’s doing “The Twelve Traditions.” She along with the other women at The Hive are learning how to live, on their own and together. They’re learning how to share and to help. D calls this “love help.’

Most of all, D wants other people to her story. “If they need help, ask for it.” It was hard for her to ask for help; she didn’t want to admit she was an addict who needed a helping heart. D knows how hard it is but knows it’s not as hard as the life she’s leaving behind.

#bmeisterman.com

 

A future with love, not fear: D – Part 4. A Thistle and Bee story.

arrows-1834859_1280

Since getting in to “The Hive”, D feels like a whole new, completely different person. For the first time, in her adult life, she had access to health care, regular meals, her own bed, and clean clothes. It has shown her how she could live without cigarettes, drugs, or alcohol.

It is not without responsibility. She goes to meetings to learn how to deal with her plaguing issues. However, a couple of instances stands out in her mind. D was recently going to a GED class and there, in plain sight, was a guy selling dope. The school knew the guy was selling but didn’t do anything about it. She knew she couldn’t stay there. Temptation is everywhere, even where it would be considered “safe.”

Looking for a safe place, she then took herself to a church and right outside there, people were smoking dope. Everywhere she turned, there were drugs to be had. Fortunately, her ride was waiting, and she was able to avoid temptation.

This underscores a greater problem: the easy availability of drugs. When one can score at a public school, a church, it’s not difficult to understand why the problem is so rampant. “Addiction don’t discriminate, child, adult, no difference.” Age doesn’t factor into it either. D is right, she witnessed a 13-year-old shooting right into their hand and foot. How could that not bring up terrible memories?

Thistle and Bee is helping D to learn to love and respect herself. Before coming to The Hive, she didn’t care when she was high and wasn’t ashamed to be out on the streets. But her family did care and was ashamed for her. They knew she was using, their mother was a junkie, a crackhead. But now her future is in front of her and she feels like a new baby, being birthed.

D is experiencing freedom and feels like a child in a candy store with so much to see and now something to live for. She’s doing “The Twelve Traditions.” She along with the other women at The Hive are learning how to live, on their own and together. They’re learning how to share and to help. D calls this “love help.’

Most of all, D wants other people to her story. “If they need help, ask for it.” It was hard for her to ask for help; she didn’t want to admit she was an addict who needed a helping heart. D knows how hard it is but knows it’s not as hard as the life she’s leaving behind.

#bmeisterman.com

 

I don’t want to say I told you so, but…

This is from an article on the Discovery Channel’s website. It underscores what is a still growing problem in over-fishing already decimated fish stocks.

Tasty Fish Grow Smaller in Warming Ocean by Tim Wall

Fish sandwiches may be skimpier in the future as the planet’s oceans continue to warm.

Biologists measured progressively smaller average lengths of edible fish in the northern Atlantic Ocean between 1970 and 2008. Six economically-important fish species — haddock, herring, Norway pout and plaice — declined in length by an average of 23 percent.

The fish lived in different environments from bottom-dwelling plaice to surface-skimming herring. The range of habitats suggested that some common factor was altering the entire ocean community in the North Sea, a section of the Atlantic rimmed by Scandinavia, Great Britain and Germany.

ANALYSIS: Climate Change Could Shrink Animals

During those same 38 years, the average seafloor water temperature increased by 0.2–0.6 degrees Celsius per decade, for a total of one to two degrees C, in the North Sea. Besides the increasing water temperature, no other factor, such as commercial fishing, affected the fish universally, noted the authors of the study published in Global Change Biology. The biologists concluded that climate change may be shrinking economically important fish species.

“We would anticipate that synchronous reductions in length across species could be occurring in other regional seas experiencing a strong degree of warming,” study leader Alan Baudron of the University of Aberdeen, told the Guardian.

However, not every fish measured by the study declined. Sole and cod both approximately maintained their sizes. Haddock and whiting, on the other hand, decreased in length by approximately 29 percent in parts of their ranges.

ANALYSIS: Animals, Plants Shrinking as Climate Warms

North Sea fisherman’s commercial success may decrease along with the shrinking fish. The weights of individual fish caught declined by between three and 48 percent between 1978 and 1993, noted the biologists. Plaice and haddock suffered most serious declines in weight.

As the ocean warms, less oxygen dissolves into the water. Fish depend on that dissolved oxygen to breathe. Smaller fish in the North Atlantic may survive better in oxygen poor waters, wrote the study’s authors, since the animals need to intake less of the dissolved gas.

Time passes…

One of my most favorite memories of my time in Newfoundland was that of meeting and befriending some of the people whom I met. Over these years, I have stayed in touch with some of them. Some I hear from regularly; others intermittently but happily.

One who stands out is Bren. I first met him in 2004 on my first trip up there. At that time, he was a spry and very active 84 years old, just about to learn how to navigate the internet. I wandered into his shop to look at some of the crafts his lawn sign was advertising. And a door into a new world was opened.

Bren came out of his workshop where he had been “turning” some bowls. Dressed in work pants and a flannel shirt, Carhartt-type jacket and hat, Bren greeted me warmly. He said I was the first this year. First what? I was a little confused. Tourist of course. How could I have not known?

It was late March and the tourist crowd had yet to invade these lovely shores. I could have been considered the vanguard, but I really wasn’t a tourist in the traditional sense. I was happily working on what was to become Arn? Narn. But I was interested in picking up some local crafts and art for gifts for loved ones back home. So, in that sense, i was a tourist.

Bren invited me into his home while he brought out his wares to show me. Remember, I was the first and he wasn’t yet ready for the annual onslaught of intrepid travelers. We talked and I bought. And exchanged e-mail addresses. As I was about to leave, Bren invited me to stay for a cup of tea. I was running late, for what I don’t remember, but I demurred and headed back to St. John ‘s.

Scan Some of the raw stock of Bren’s turnings.

Later that year, I received one of the best New Year’s notes ever – an e-mail from Bren, trying out the internet. His message reminded me of how much I enjoyed that trip.

I went back the next year, 2005, I bought some more, we talked some more, and we drank beer and tea this time. We were now friends.

Two years later, I returned with my wife Carla and introduced her to Bren. They hit it off immediately. Why should they have not? More beer, tea, laughs, and stories.

Over the years, we exchanged notes, thoughts, and news of each others’ lives. Bren’s back started to give him problems and he had to give up his craft. We are the poorer for that. But he remained as active as he could.

Bren is now, according to his most recent e-mail of two days ago, 91.5 years old. He has sold his home and moved into a facility where he can receive the care he needs and shares his days with others. He states “I am adapting to a new life of idleness & being amongst a lot of people.” They are richer for that as I am for knowing Bren.

I am happy to report I now have plans to return to Newfoundland next summer. I look forward to seeing Bren once again… good friends are hard to find.

In which I get it right.

As I wrote earlier, when we were sitting in the airport, my lovely bride happened upon a postcard for a perfectly wonderful B&B. And as I wrote, I through my infinite wisdom had booked us for three nights in this wonderful place. Am I good or what?

We are now on our way to this wonderful Newfoundland version of Brigadoon, but without bagpipes. Since we are departing from the southern tip of the Avalon Peninsula and driving up to Port Rexton near Trinity, about 260 miles. Not a bad drive, 4-5 hours with stops especially if we can find a Tim Horton’s.

Typical Newfoundland bog. (eoearth.org.)

Newfoundland has been settled almost exclusively on the coast line. It is a very big coast. As we drive from Burin north, we travel mostly inland. Lots of bogs, ponds, no moose sightings, and lots of rocks and birch trees. Since everything revolved around fishing, there is hardly anything resembling a town. This is not to say no one lives out there. We pass small enclaves of homes along the way. Just what they do for employment is something we haven’t been able to determine. Still, I wouldn’t mind living there either.

As we head towards that days destination, we start to see more small towns. They are different from the outports since they are still a ways inland from the water. But it lets us know we’re almost there. And then we crest a hill and a sign for our destination appears. Hot damn! This is where I really start to look like I know what I’m doing on this trip. Fisher’s Loft is even better in real life than the beautiful image on their postcard. The views are spectacular and it’s getting on towards dinner.

We check in to our room (it’s a suite!) with an incredible vista of the bay with some small islands in it. In the distant is a fog partially covering a small mountain/hill(?) – beautiful whatever its nomenclature. We clean up and go downstairs to enjoy a drink on the front porch of the main building. At the bar is a picture of Kevin Spacey and the entire crew of the film The Shipping News. They stayed there. Oh, yes, this is getting better by the minute.

Fisher’s Loft (been-seen.com)

We finish our drinks and head into the dining room. OK, this is getting ridiculous. The dining room is decorated beautifully with hand-made furniture from a local craftsman. His furniture also occupies our room. Wait, it gets even better.

The menus arrive and this is foodie heaven. And locavore heaven. They grow all their own produce. And wine heaven. Oh hell, it’s just heaven! And this is just dinner! We almost can’t wait for breakfast. The food is marvelous.

Breakfast doesn’t disappoint – along with regular fare, there are fresh pastries from the oven and partridgeberry jam. I wrote about partridgeberry jam in an earlier post, but it bears repeating. This jam is incredible.

I don’t want to leave. I wonder if they need a groundskeeper!

We drive around, eat some fish, listen to music, talk to Newfoundlanders, and go to a dance.

With bellies full and hearts settled, we set out to explore. We have a map but plan on using it only if we get lost. If you know where you are in relation to the sea, you should be alright. That was our plan and we stuck to it.

We visited some antique shops in Burin and were able to get a small but nice sense of their history. Like all of Newfoundland, it was informed by fishing. And the articles in the shop reflected that: old prints of boats and fish, compasses and sextants, posters and signs from another era, hosted by a typically wonderful and friendly Newfoundlander.

Across the street was a small museum, the Burin Heritage Museum which of course we had to see. In it were displays of indigenous wildlife, a photo gallery of the 1929 tidal wave that created an incredible amount of damage, architectural records, local ceramics, histories including those of Burin’s involvement in WWII, clothes, and folk art. It was amazing how much that rather small house held.

Burin Heritage Museum                  (townof burin.com)

After that it was time for lunch. Options were limited but a restaurant was right across the street so off we went. Burin is small, it seems as if everything is right across the street. We chowed down and headed out once more.

While walking around, we found this beautiful wooden bay walk that took us almost around the entire bay. We watched while a local fisherman/artist painted a mural on the side of a meeting hall. He invited us into the hall to see more of his work. They were wall size murals and quite good in a folk art fashion, but sadly too big to take home though. He told us he had to finish it quickly as there was a dance there that evening. Everyone has a great time and we should come. Yes, they ARE that friendly to strangers. We didn’t want to commit, but told him we would try. We would. We did.

Burin bay walk. (panaramio.com)

Newfoundland dances are like no other I’ve been to. They are truly egalitarian: all ages, all occupations, no pretense. They are there for one reason – to have fun. And do they ever. Anyone can get up and sing, anyone can join the band, and everyone dances with everyone. It is a remarkable experience.

If you’re not dancing, singing, or playing an instrument, you’re at a table discussing your entire life story with complete strangers, except they’re really not strangers any longer. That is Newfoundland. You’re a stranger for no more than a few minutes.

Many of the people there are older. If you get to sit with them, prepare to share your medical history with them. That noted, it may say something about the Canadian health system that so many of them are elderly and still kicking up their heels. Or they’re just happy to be living in Newfoundland. And that last statement is fact. They do love Newfoundland.

Over the course of my trips up there, I have heard the same refrain repeated time and time again. “I moved away, but had to come back. This is home.” Or some such variation. What makes this all the more significant and poignant, is Newfoundlanders want to come back even if there is no fishing any longer. It is home, their home and they love it. How many of us can say that about where we live? And how many of us dance there?

Watching the fog roll around and drinking wine.

After the initial concussion of our cottage by the bay, Carla and I are acting like we live there. We could do this – downsize and do it here. We don’t need all: the clothes, furniture, tchotchkes, appliances, whatever that we have. This is life simplified. This is life without pretense, life without malls, life without Walmart. This is good.

We go to the general store up the road for all the immediate essentials we need. We get to know the shopkeeper by name. That’s easy – this is Newfoundland after all. How many times have I said that? But it’s true. We chat daily and she shares with us her nephew is in a band (all teenagers) and we ought to buy their new CD. We do. It’s really good! No, it’s very good. The group is called Eventide and they’ve recorded a number of traditional Newfoundland folk songs. We play it a lot. Even the record store in St. John’s carries it. How cool is that?

Eventide CD (freds.nf.net)

Newfoundland doesn’t have some of the hangups the US does. Admittedly, there are some states which are more liberal than others, but I’m not talking politically. I’m talking about what are reasonable expectations. If you want to buy hard liquor along with wine and beer, go to the government store for the best selection. If you just want to buy some beer or some wine, hell, then just go to the general store and get some. What’s the big deal?

It was no big deal. It was late in the afternoon, we had done about as much traveling as we wanted to, so off to the general store and pick up a bottle or two of wine. If you’re a practicing locavore, try the Canadian Jackson Trigg wine, it’s surprisingly good and affordable. So we did. Or if you’re into beer, Quidi Vidi brewery out of St. John ‘s makes some mighty fine brews. Yes, I can attest to imbibing both of those.

Oh, yeah, good stuff. (signalblog.ca)

With our larder thus and properly stocked, we went home. It was just as well. It was getting on to dusk and a fog was rolling in. Time to get out on the porch, crack open a bottle of wine, sit back, listen to the waves, watch the fog make everything look mysterious and romantic at the same time and very much alive.

Yes, life is good.

Ah, spirit… after church and now at Red’s.

Filled with the spirit from the Sunday morning church service, I now wander, in search of lunch and additional spirit, over to Red’s to see if indeed they’re open. Indeed they are.

In the previous post I mentioned someone was eyeing me while I sat having a beer at Red’s, not necessarily with bad intent, but certainly suspiciously. He was mumbling something I couldn’t hear. If not a Jethro Tull fan, maybe he was a Monty Python fan, thought I was a witch, and consequently should be burned. Could be, right?

He turns around and mumbles something to someone who turns out to be Gerard, my new best friend on Ramea. Gerard laughs and comes over to me to tell me what’s going on. He says Jimmy, the starer, is concerned about me: I’m not from there; why am I there?; what do I want? Gerard assured him I was OK, (it helps to have friends in high places!) and that he should come over and Gerard would introduce us to each other. Gerard, the quintessential Newfoundlander, was just being nice and paving the way for open communications between foreign countries.

He signals Jimmy to come over and meet the tall, handsome stranger. (That was another stranger, not me.) Gerard does the introductions while Jimmy eyes me up one side and down the other. If you notice, Jimmy does a lot of eyeing. So, “Jimmy, this is Bruce. He’s OK, he’s a friend, don’t worry. Bruce, meet Jimmy.” So it went. I said hello, Jimmy mumbled something, Gerard left to talk with some others. Jimmy mumbled some more.

Wanting to put Jimmy at ease, I did what any self-respecting traveler should do in this instance, I offered to buy him a drink. Along with the drink, it would buy me a little credibility as well. Jimmy nodded and mumbled something again. Jimmy eyes and mumbles a lot.

Jimmy sits down, eyes his beer (there he goes again), eyes me, and mumbles something about Gerard. I pick up on that and answer that yes, Gerard is a fine man, loves his mother and the Queen, has never kicked an animal, some such thing because I’m not sure what I would say would even be comprehended. I could hardly understand one tenth of the words Jimmy was saying. This was not going to be easy. Jimmy understood me quite well and downed the drink quickly. I think he wanted another… all in the spirit of foreign diplomacy, I’m sure.

Gerard has obviously been watching this clumsy, bi-lingual (?) pas de deux in which Jimmy and I are involved. In any dance, there is the one who leads and the other who follows. In this case, neither happened as neither was possible. Gerard, our new dance master, came over to help interpret. It became clear that Jimmy and I went to different dance schools and the steps were completely foreign to us both.

This went on for a while until Jimmy was satisfied I was not going to lead an invasion of the island of Ramea. Thusly pacified, he wandered off to mumble something and stare at someone else.

Gerard was laughing and grinning through much of this. It was getting on to suppertime and he asked if I had plans for the evening. I told him nothing that couldn’t be moved – oh, like I have a lot to do here among strangers. He invited me to join him later in an age old Newfoundland tradition – a kitchen party. I had read about these so I had an inkling of what went on, but only an inkling! I was to discover that these people would be strangers no more.

Losing my religion… not exactly.

It’s Sunday morning. I had my coffee, it’s just grey outside, too early for Red’s (do they open on Sunday?), too early for most things after a kitchen party.

So I’m wandering around on a rather quiet morning and notice a small but steady stream of people walking towards something. To where? I’ll follow in my stealth photographer’s mode, trying not to let my cameras hit against each other too loudly and give my surveillance away. Why look, they must be god-fearing folks as they’re all going to church. Some turn around and see me. So much for being unobtrusive.

“How will you know them?” Courtesy Anglican Mainstream

So, hi-ho, hi-ho, I guess it’s off to church I go. A little church never hurt anyone, right? I follow them in and sit in the back as appropriate for a camera-toting reprobate such as myself. I did say it was grey outside. It was even greyer inside. This was looking like one of the older chapters of the Canadian AARP. It appears the younger Rameans have other things to do on Sunday morning. Like recovering from kitchen parties maybe?

It was a large, beautiful, old church, the kind one might find in fishing villages anywhere. But because of the lack of fishing and the loss of population, it was operating on a much smaller budget. In the winter, when I was there, they would close the main floor with the sanctuary in order to save money on heat. Consequently, they worshiped on a ground level meeting room. It was pretty standard Anglican fare. Nothing terribly unfamiliar, but none of the awe-inspiring trappings usually associated with a lot of churches. Come to think of it, it reminded me of many of the churches I’d seen in New England – plain, austere, and somewhat spartan.

The church members, being Newfoundlanders (obviously!), were all friendly but somewhat reserved. Q: Who comes to church with cameras on them? A: I do. That’s not exactly what people expect to find when they go their house of worship. (God is watching and he sent me to get proof!)

I stayed around a bit after the service and spoke with some members as well of the minister. She was a very busy woman. On alternating Sundays, she preached at the Catholic Church elsewhere on the island. I hope she never got her liturgy confused – might upset some of the folk, you know.

Like other times while in Newfoundland you would meet the same person again, I would run into her again, but elsewhere. It is a small world, but Ramea makes it even smaller.

Part 2: Kicking back at Red’s Lounge…

The afternoon was spent walking around the island taking pictures of local signage, laundry lines, wind turbines, boats (mostly in dry dock as there was no fishing here either), and coves. If it moved I photographed it. If it stood still, I photographed it. Yup, there I was again, taking pictures of nothing! But really good pictures of nothing if I say so myself. It moved, it stood still, it was a wind turbine, I photographed it.

Sidebar -There’s a woman who paints all the house numbers and signs and mailboxes on the island; a limited growth opportunity indeed, yet the local art scene is definitely defined by her! And it was sort of like being in her island-wide showroom. She was that prolific. Certainly she had her themes down: boats, flags, fish, propellers, anchors, etc.

So the light was now fading and I wasn’t far behind it. I was in need of sustenance and it was too early to go back to the B&B for a formal dinner. Since I now knew the island like the back of my hand, it was back to Red’s. I was going to check out if they had any beer left. Photographing clotheslines creates a mighty thirst.

Lucky for me they had some left. I was welcomed back by Gerard and the locals (sounds like a perfect bar band!) whom I’d met earlier and introduced to some new (to me) citizens. Someone had gone hunting and brought back some fresh moose meat. They had the aforethought to grind it up, make mooseburgers, and serve them to customers. And that’s how I came to have my first (and probably last) mooseburger. It was OK if you don’t mind eating the inspiration for a cartoon, but personally, I liked caribou better. (Please don’t tell my fiends at PETA!)

As I mentioned earlier, I stood out. I was not from there and one citizen had taken note of that and his concern was quite obvious. I couldn’t hear what he was saying to the others, but the not-so-furtive and mildly hostile glances could not be overlooked. Hmmmm – what to do? It would clear soon enough.