Icarus and Hubris

icarus

That’s not the name of a pop group or a group of lawyers. It’s a mythology and an attitude. And in this case, they’re one and the same.

Hubris: excessive pride or self-confidence.

Icarus: In Greek mythology, Icarus is the son of the master craftsman Daedalus, the creator of the Labyrinth. Daedalus had been imprisoned by King Minos of Crete within the walls of his own invention, the very same Labyrinth. But the great craftsman’s genius would not suffer captivity and he devised a way of to get free.

Icarus and his father attempt to escape from Crete by means of wings that his father, Daedalus, constructed from feathers and wax. But Icarus, dared to fly too near the sun on wings of feathers and wax.  Naturally, the wax melted, the feathers came loose and Icarus plunged to his death in the sea. This perhaps was the first example of hubris – an over-weening pride in one’s own ability.

One can see it applied many ways. Certainly in sports. Back it up as Babe Ruth did when pointing to the outfield, he unloaded a home run to that very location. That wasn’t hubris. That was ability.

Today we see it in numerous forms, politics for certain, and most recently manifested in the Dunning-Kruger effect, a type of cognitive bias in which people believe that they are smarter and more capable than they really are. There’s no apparent ability displayed.

And like Icarus, their wax will melt and the inevitable plunge will occur. The question remains – when?  #bmeisterman.com

 

 

When do the needs of the few really outweigh the needs of the many?

The seal hunt – This is one of the most contentious issues around, galvanizing people such as Paul McCartney against it. On the surface, it would appear to be an easy thing to categorize. But there is so much more involved that we don’t usually hear about.
If one is a deer hunter, then a strong case can be made for that activity if it is done responsibly. Culling a herd is necessary for its well-being and survival. Portraying these animals as helpless is good for PR purposes, but letting them starve because of a too large herd size is no less harmful than hunting them. If one is against hunting, then it is just as easy to view it as a senseless slaughter. In this respect, the seal hunt is confronted with many of the same concerns from both sides.
Done for sport, hunting (anything) is absolutely wrong and immoral. For food and sustenance, it’s understandable. Trying to maintain a herd’s health and feed people is an entirely different proposition that certainly has its benefits as well its detractors.. Reconciling these two disparate points of view may be well near impossible. And whatever the disposition of this may be, you know there will still be anger over it. What are your thoughts?

Federal ministers call for change in EU seal products ban

Legal review process ongoing in Geneva, Switzerland

The Canadian government is speaking on behalf of sealers and seal product producers as a World Trade Organization (WTO) appeal body looks at the decision made to uphold the European Union (EU) ban on Canadian seal products.

Fred Henderson loads his truck with seal pelts in Noddy Bay on Newfoundland’s northern peninsula in 2004. — Telegram file photo

While a team of lawyers made arguments in Geneva, Switzerland, Monday, at the start of three days of scheduled hearings, two federal ministers again made public calls for a change in the EU’s position.Federal Fisheries Minister Gail Shea — attending Seafood Expo North America in Boston — told reporters her department hopes the ban will be overturned.“As a government, we’ve always supported the Canadian sealing industry because it supports our small coastal communities,” she said in a teleconference call, making note of government’s efforts through training to ensure the seal hunt is humane.“We have an abundance of product which I believe provides an opportunity for this industry,” she said.In Geneva, Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq emphasized the federal government’s position that the EU is treating Canadian seal products unfairly.“The EU allows seal products from Greenland to be marketed in the European Union with(out) any regard in which they are hunted. So in other words, the European Union seal regime does nothing to actually keep seal products out of the EU market or away from the EU public,” she said in a telephone interview.“I think it was very clear in the last decision that the WTO did find, the panel did find, that the European Union ban on import of Canadian seal products did violate the EU international trade obligations. Having said that, they went and used the moral cards issue to not change that (ban).”She said using a moral reasoning for decisions on conservation matters is dangerous.“To go down this path really outside of science puts to risk the whole global food supply,” she said, suggesting it establishes the potential for similar actions against other products.Aglukkaq spoke to The Telegram while side by side with Dion Dakins — chair of the Canadian Seal and Sealing Network and CEO of Carino Processing, in Switzerland to campaign for Canadian seal products and the work of sealers.His trip was covered under $60,000 in funding from the provincial government for the Canadian Seals and Sealing Network, announced in February.“The reality is the first ruling was not catastrophic for Canada. In fact it proved that the Inuit exemption as offered was discriminatory in its application. It also revealed the marine mammal exemption under the EU ban was not applied fairly,” he said.“The disappointing thing is the authority of groups like the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) and Humane Society International has yet to be challenged here in Europe adequately,” he said. “This is part of my role here, to actually and explicitly go after the false messaging they’ve been spreading about our industry.”Sheryl Fink with the IFAW was in Geneva to submit an amicus curiae — “friend of the court” — written briefing on the seal hunt and seal products, something the court may or may not choose to refer to in its final decision.“I think what’s happening here is, in a way, quite historic, regardless of what the outcome will be. This is the first time this public morality issue has really been challenged at the WTO, so we’re very interested in seeing how it all plays out,” she said.“I don’t want to pre-judge the panel’s decision, but realistically … we need to remember that Europe wasn’t a big market for seal products from Canada prior to the ban. It’s probably not going to be a large market for seal products no matter what happens here at the WTO.”She said the IFAW sent representatives to monitor the international court proceedings since the organization’s anti-seal hunt campaign is considered both a founding campaign for the group and a fundamental issue in the world of animal rights activism.She rejected the idea the decision to uphold the EU ban on moral grounds would lead to a rush of similar campaigns against other products.The WTO appeal body’s decision is expected at some point between April and June.

And a partridge in Logy Bay – Christmas in Newfoundland.

A Merry Christmas to all!

From the  Telegram in St. Johns, Newfoundland.

Trailer12 Fogo Island.

Making the cut for the Christmas Bird Count

Christmas Bird Count, the world’s longest-running citizen science wildlife census, is 114 years old. “Are you a bird watcher?” asked Paul Linegar when I called him at home to volunteer my family for this year’s Christmas Bird Count.

I wasn’t sure how to respond. I knew “I can’t tell a crow from an eagle” would not get me the job. But I couldn’t lie.“I am not a birder, but I love birds.” I figured this would be a more appropriate response.

It’s true. I spent this past summer running up the Cuckold’s Cove Trail to see if Lucky, the eaglet, had finally ventured out of the nest. Last February at Bowring Park, I was thrilled to meet the red-footed goose even though I could’ve sworn he was a duck. And as soon as I heard about the wayward snowy owls, I headed straight to Cape Spear.

“Any owl sightings today?” I asked the first guy I saw after pulling in.

“There’s one right there,” he said pointing to a rock on the north side of the parking lot.

Well now, this birding thing is easier than I thought.

The owl was an exquisite creature, its thick white feathers barred with brown and its head pivoting this way and that like a weathervane. We were only there a minute or two when the white ball of feathers took flight, its massive wings reaching down to almost touch tips under its body.

The white plume landed on a rock in the bog to the south of the parking lot where the barracks used to be in the Second World War.

He sat stock still on a small bluff, keeping his big round eyes trained on the long lenses pointed his way. He didn’t seem scared, just curious.

It was at this point I noticed a half dozen other groups scattered throughout the bog, no doubt viewing this guy’s feathery buddies. Now I can’t wait to go to Cape Race to see the Harry Potter invasion.

All this to say: if I know what bird I’m looking for, I should be able to identify it.

Plus I’ll take descriptive notes and photos so if I can’t identify something in the field, I can always bring home a picture and cheat notes and go from there.

This seemed good enough for Paul Linegar and he signed me up for the stretch of trail between Torbay Point at the end of Doran’s Lane in Outer Cove to Red Cliff in Logy Bay. I am excited to finally be a part of the world’s longest-running citizen science wildlife census.

The Christmas Bird Count started in 1900, when an American named Frank Chapman asked people all across North America to count birds and submit the results to him.

Chapman’s census has grown to include thousands of counts throughout the States, Canada and further south.

The results of these counts are compiled and allow researchers to get a better handle on how many feathered creatures are where during one specific period.

Here in Newfoundland, the Christmas count takes place on Boxing Day, regardless of weather. Fourteen designated areas from Wabush-Labrador City to Ferryland each cover a 24-kilometre circle administered by a local birder.

Paul Linegar, my bird boss, will collect data from volunteers who walk in his circle which stretches from Torbay in the north to Paradise in the west and the Goulds in the south.

If you are interested in helping out and can tell a puffin from a partridge, and don’t mind walking outside in severe weather, consult the following site which shows leaders’ names and co-ordinates: www.birdscanada.org/volunteer/cbc/index.jsp?targetpg=compilers&lang=EN&prov=NL

If you’d like to set up a new count in your community, contact count co-ordinator Dick Cannings at dcannings@birdscanada.org.

And if you’re in the mood for a stroll, or snowshoe, in the woods on Boxing Day, consider the Red Cliff area where seven Flanagans might need help distinguishing a grouse from a ptarmigan.

Just kidding. I, the informed birder, now know they are one and the same.

Susan Flanagan would like everyone to say a special prayer this Christmas for

Pat Gehue, whose family wants him to come home. Susan can be reached at susan@48degrees.ca.

A child’s Christmas feedback

Ruth Wakeham writes: “Your family’s experience was in so many ways similar to ours. I, too, wanted knee boots so badly, probably in the same year that your sister did. We also still have photos of all the children of the family in cracker hats. There was nothing quite as good as new pyjamas. Your column took me right back. I could almost feel the cosiness of the flannelette as I was reading. I must ask Dad if he still has that white-handled electric knife. Thanks again. You made my Christmas.”

Andrew Tucker writes: “Your article in the Telegram, “A child’s Christmas,” brings back a lot of memories. We have the same Christmas picture in front of the couch, Christmas tree in the background. There were 10 of us — nine boys, one girl. Back in 1966, looking at them, you wonder who the goofball was, who the serious one was, how they would all turn out. We were fortunate enough to do the same picture 16 years later on the same couch, believe it or not. Nobody was ever allowed in the living room except at Christmas time.

“When friends look at and compare our two pictures, the 1966 one and the 1982 one, they often joke: same kids, same couch, same wallpaper, is that the same tree?

“Great fun. There are a lot of stories in pictures like that. Thank you for sharing it.”

Lynn Courish writes: “I hope I have stopped crying enough to send you a heartfelt thank you; my sister pointed out this article to me today as she actually recognized Gerry (just from the photo). What an amazing story you have done here, but hey, it is not a story is it? It was life and still is. I loved every minute of it. It was very well written but I have to be honest, for me, the memories just came flooding back at me. … Thank you so much. It feels like a Christmas gift to me.”

Heather LeShana writes: “Just read your article about Christmas. You could have been writing about my childhood. Thanks so much for the memories. Wishing you and yours a holiday filled with love, hope and new memories.”

Shirley Birmingham called to say that for her, the magic of Christmas was seeing the lit tree for the first time Christmas morning. She also still has a ginger container from A. Lilly and Company.

See COLUMN, page B2

Linda Ryan writes: “I dearly loved your story about your family’s Christmases on ‘Turn. It brought back so many wonderful memories of my own.  I, too, had an aunt who had moved to the States. Before their little family left Argentia, my military uncle gifted to my dad a handsome, hand-painted and rather significant, wooden Santa complete with sleigh and reindeer. Oh, how we treasured it.

“Whenever my dad would judiciously set it up in our front yard, Christmas had officially arrived in our neighbourhood. Soon after, winking lights and wreaths of all kinds would appear on the surrounding houses in a harmonious nod to the season. And, we would all wait with great anticipation for a soft sifting of snow to entirely set the scene. I can still see Santa and his reindeer in my mind’s eye. It was the first of its kind around our small town.  Some people would slow their cars to admire it and some would even stop and take pictures of their own children standing alongside Santa and waving.

“My sister and I, and certainly my parents, too, would always look forward to the boxes to arrive each year from Virginia. The boxes would always contain something that could not be found around here. Often, my aunt would send jumpers that she had expertly sewn for my sister and me.  And, we would wear them proudly with sweet white long-sleeved blouses to all the Christmas and New Year festivities. I remember one year, my aunt sent us the most beautiful cherry red corduroy jumpers.  We immediately put them on and literally wore them out. When I had finally outgrown mine, I wore my sister’s. I never wanted to give it up. Eventually, my mother, who was a pretty good sewer herself,

re-created the jumpers into miniskirts for my friend Judy and I — we wore them with our short white patent leather go-go boots in a Christmas concert singing and dancing to “Jingle Bell Rock.” Oh, my!

“I still have the only Barbie (American Girl, brunette in a striped swimsuit) I ever owned, given to me by my cousin — the year was 1965. Barbie had made the international trip along with her best friend, Midge. Who knew that some decades later, I would marry a man named Midge.

“The packages inside the ‘Christmas Box from Away’ were always beautifully individually wrapped which, for me, was the most magical thing about it all. I remember one year, customs had torn open the presents (leaving their inspection slips) and hadn’t bothered to rewrap even one.  I was devastated that someone would do that and not have the decency to at least tape up the torn papers. Imagine! At 7 or 8 years old, it was an atrocity.

“We didn’t have a lot back then. But what we had, we surely appreciated. And, we surely appreciated our American relatives thinking of us at Christmastime.

“My dad is gone now (he loved Christmas and I inherited that love for the season from him), as are his sister and my American uncle. But to this day, my cousin, sister and I still carry on the tradition across the miles. It helps us all to keep the spirit of Christmas present and the beautiful memories of Christmases past alive. …

Thank you, Susan, for reviving those in your column today.”

 

Once more into the breach dear friends, once more!

We make our plans to head once more into the… yeah, right. (celluloidheroesreviews.com)

Rested, fed, and eager to get going, we head out of St. John’s to the Burin Peninsula. This is the only place we go that I haven’t been to, so it will be a new adventure for me as well. This will take the better part of the day as it’s on the southern most tip of the larger Avalon Peninsula, right off of the Grand Banks.

The Grand Banks in happier days had some of the best cod fishing in Newfoundland. So, when we arrive, we see many of the same scenes I witnessed in my earlier trips. But it was new to Carla and my photos while accurate, could not prepare anyone for the stark reality of the moratorium’s effect. Fishing like everywhere else in the province was non-existent. It was the same story told over again.

Marystown (on the Burin), a formerly active shipbuilding community, had not had any new contracts for quite some time and was suffering because of that as well. There was some hope of a couple of government contracts, but they had yet to be decided upon. If they were to happen, it would be a godsend for that community.

Still, with all the hardship these people have endured, the Newfoundland spirit of generosity, friendliness, and hospitality was always there, ready without any need of encouragement. It really is who they are.

So we arrived to our, I think, beautiful, little cottage right on the bay. I could have moved in and stayed forever right then. I could have. Unfortunately, Carla was not as impressed as I was. It was to be a rather quiet night.

This is it. Oh, yeah, I could stay here. (trails.com)

Before I write any more, let me recap our trip thus far: we arrive very late or very early depending on your POV and get a foul-mouthed but entertaining, cab driver to take us hastily to our first night’s stay; our B&B has locked us out of our room and we can’t reach the owners; there aren’t any rooms at any inns that night in St. John’s; we dozed in the lobby of a hotel; and now this, all in two days. Not exactly the auspicious beginning I had hoped for. I’m wondering how soon can I book us a flight out of there. This is not good. All the points I had scored at the airport were now gone like wasted political capital. Re-election didn’t look so good right now.

But to paraphrase a Cat Stevens song, “Morning had broken”, and so did her mood. It was in fact quite different. She was starting to really like our little house on the water. We had stopped at a market for provisions on our way in so I set about to making some coffee, sitting out on the front porch, looking at the fog over the water, and thinking, yes, I could very easily stay here. Oh, if only. Maybe one day.

Abducted by sea turtles AND the talk of the town.

With all apologies to the bard (Ramea, O’ Ramea, where art thou O’ Ramea?), Ramea is a small island off the southern coast of Newfoundland and I arrived safely on the good ship (well, ferry) Gallipoli. For those who may be history minded, Gallipoli is the name of a horrible battle in World War I in which allied soldiers were brutally massacred because of an incredibly dumb decision. It was also a movie starring the then uncontroversial and better-looking actor Mel Gibson. And Gallipoli was the boat of which I just got off! Should I have read something into that? Time enough to ponder as I’ll be getting back on it to return to the Newfoundland mainland in a few days.

Approaching Ramea, one travels though a beautiful though unexpected archipelago. It was a wonderful greeting. The only thing missing were giant sea turtles, but for all I knew they may have been laying in wait to ambush me and make mock-Bruce soup. Hey, it could happen.

This was going to be very cool. Ramea is a very small island, populated by about 600 people. At it’s peak in the early 1970’s, it had about double that, but when the fish were gone, half the populace followed. Yet, it holds on. There is a music festival, like so many other Newfoundland outports, in August. And there are a number of outdoor activities in which one can indulge. The electricity is furnished by a small wind turbine farm. OK, so much for the Chamber of Commerce business.

As I’ve come to learn and appreciate and obsessively seek out, the best activity of all in Newfoundland is talking and partying with Newfoundlanders, everywhere! And that more than anything would define this part of the journey. Oh, the photographs would be taken. And with the certainty of only those of the pure of heart and who sleep like babies, I knew they would be good. I didn’t really, I hoped they would be good. But I’m rambling. The beer would be drunk, but not I, oh, no! Moose what would be eaten. Sorry, Squirrel. More on that later,

I checked into the B&B on Ramea, unpacked, and then started out on which was to be my newest adventure. Without giving too much away, must be frugal with my words here, I was to see clothes-lines, coffins, windmills, hand-painted signs, a bar, so much more and unbeknownst to me at the time, become the talk of the island.

Canary in the global coal mine.

Currently indigenous to Newfoundland are moose, caribou, salmon, and some remaining cod. There are no naturally residing canaries on the island. However, in this case, the island itself was the canary.

Why is Newfoundland important? In much the same way the canary in a coal mine is important. That bird is an early warning of impending trouble. Ignore it at your own peril. In 1992, that is what happened in Newfoundland. Heard, seen, and ignored – just the opposite of the military phrase HUA(!) – Heard, Understood and Acknowledged. They (the government) heard the canary, saw it laying there, and essentially said, “Don’t pay that any attention” until it was too late. It was mismanagement writ large.

So, what was this canary? It was the disappearance of cod stocks. Stocks that had been fished for over 500 years and sustained Newfoundland throughout that time. Then in 1992, the government realized that the cod stocks had plummeted to perilously low levels and imposed a 10 year moratorium on cod fishing. Historically, they knew if left alone for 5-6 years, the stocks should return to previous levels. They didn’t. In actuality, they were in worse shape than before.

In those first 10 years, because there was no fishing, 20% of Newfoundland’s population left the island. It was an out-migration the likes of which had never been seen. And the lack of fishing created much hardship throughout the province. Newfoundlanders continue leaving the island in search of work returning occasionally for vacation. The Newfoundland musical group Ennis addresses this beautifully in their song, “Fortunate Ones.”

Now 20 years later, the moratorium is still in place. But then in 2006, 14 years after the original moratorium was put in place, Professor Boris Worm of Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia published a paper that received world-wide notice. In this paper he predicted that by the middle of this century, the entire global stock of wild fish will be in total collapse. This is certainly the result of over-fishing; there is also growing evidence that ocean acidification may be contributing to this as well. Either way one looks at it, both of those causes are man-made.

The “canary” was laying there, gasping for breath and people essentially just walked on by. It has taken too long to realize what this means.

In the short term, forget about your seafood dinner, that isn’t going to happen unless you’ll be willing to take out a mortgage on it. Any fish we’ll have will come from farmed stocks and their purity is suspect.

In the long term, your guess is as good as anyone’s. No one knows what will happen to the seas themselves because of this shock to its eco-system.

So much for Red Lobster!

It’s hard out there for a…fisherman.

OK, if I was to start a new career, I don’t think it would be as a fisherman. No, that requires real work, long hours, danger, a tremendous amount of uncertainty, harsh weather, roiling seas, low wages, and oh, did I mention danger?

In a line from the film “The Shipping News”, Billy Pretty explains to the film’s protagonist Quoyle, “…there’s more people down under these waters than are killed on the roads.” True that! The life of a fisherman is dangerous. There are monuments to those lost at sea and they number quite a few. And their families left behind are sometimes not mute testimony to this. But still, when they can, they fish. There’s very little in commercial cod fishing, but in appropriate season, crabbing, lobstering, and shrimping have filled some of the void.

Still, trying to make such a living is difficult. In an interview I conducted with a fishing fleet owner, he described the hardships faced each year, getting harder with every passing year. For him, that life was more in the past than in the future. He did not feel hopeful of the future in the least and wondered how his grandchildren would get along were they to stay.

Yet, their culture, their love for their home and the life that went before them, holds them in an almost magical way. Many people with whom I spoke, had left Newfoundland for work or school only to come back as soon as they could. All too often, wherever I’ve traveled, people talk about getting out, to somewhere else, somewhere better; no saying home for me, nossir! Grass is always greener I guess. Not in Newfoundland. they know just how green their grass is and they like it just fine, thank you very much.

But they know they’re coming back to a different land. One where the fish are gone and where their culture is disappearing if they don’t act to preserve it: that culture that has been so informed by fishing for over five centuries.

“Arn? Narn.” Any fish? No fish. It is hard out there for a fisherman.

How did I get here?

Sometime during this, my second trip to Newfoundland, I mused upon the events that led me there. Having previously written about how this whole idea came about, this is not to be a rehashing of that. I’ll probably indulge myself to do so though at some future time begging one’s patience. It’s also not how I physically got here – wrote about that as well in length. No, this is about a seminal event that did ultimately lead to this point in time.

A long time ago, (in a part of the country far, far away), I was sharing drinks with some college friends up in Boston. We were talking about careers and what we wanted to do with our lives. You know, the typical 3:00 AM college discussion. I was also trying to impress a young woman, Darla D., with what I thought was cool. I was an art major which is really, when you think of it, pretty cool, if not a non-starter on the economic scale. I wanted to paint. The underlying problem with that was I wasn’t very good. Being young and full of myself, I wasn’t about to admit it. What to do?

I blurted out, “I’m thinking of getting into photography.” Whoa! Where did that come from? Yes, I was trying to impress Darla D. and that did do it, but I had never thought of photography before. I would look at my fellow students with their cameras going around taking pictures of nothing and think, “Glad I’m not them, what dorks.” Truth is that as a teenage art major (Hmmm, that might be a good idea for a B-movie), we were all dorks already, but the photographers didn’t seem to care and were cool with that.

The more I thought about it, the more attractive the idea became. I have to believe my painting professor was relieved about the decision. So, I took some classes, worked with a photographer to learn more, and then courageously set out to wow the world. Uh huh, yeah, right. It wasn’t at all different from any other artistic discipline or business for that matter. Ya gotta pay yer dues.

So many years later, with any number of missteps and mistakes behind me and yet to come, I found myself in Newfoundland photographing this book. The big difference is that I’m that dork now, taking pictures of “nothing.”

Bruce meets Bruce.

The Town Manager

Newfoundland is the kind of place that one can walk into the Town Manager’s office and ask to see him/her…and get an audience. And that’s just what I did based on the suggestion of my photographer friend Randy. Since I was going to be hanging around the town and the island of Fogo, I was told it would be a good idea to let the constabulary know what I was up to.

So, into the town hall I went and asked if I might meet the manager. “Why, yes. of course. One minute, he’ll be very happy to meet you. Let me tell him you’re here. Where did you say you were from?” No red tape, no bureaucracy, and no surly DMV types, just a warm, welcome. Wow.

I am then introduced to Bruce Pomeroy, the Fogo Town Manager. No pretense, frills, or trappings of office – just a Newfoundlander doing his job and part of that job was to deal with people like me. I expected a brief but friendly hi, hello, how are you. What I received was far beyond that. I got a tour of the office, a brief history of the town and island, a copy of that history and an island map, and a commemorative pin. Yet, we were not done, not by a long shot. I was then to be given a walking tour of the town by Bruce.

I was introduced to several people on our tour including the owner of a fishing fleet of which I will write soon. On this walk, by one of the coves on the island, I looked out and saw an amazing panorama. The sky was this rich and varied grey; the sea was a fluid and darker grey; and separating them was this brilliant white line. It glowed. I asked Bruce what was that. He replied that it was part of the arctic ice pack that breaks off every year and travels down to Newfoundland. Based on where it was, he thought that if the winds were right, it would surround the island by the next afternoon. That would be enough time for the few fisherman to get their boats safely to where they would not become ice-locked. Once there, the pack ice had to melt before any boats would break free.

By 2:30 that afternoon, the pack ice was already coming in and fast. The winds were so much stronger than originally thought. And with the winds came a large drop in temperature as they crossed over the ice. I was to spend the next four hours watching and photographing several fisherman attempting to get their boats free. It was incredible to see. There will be a series of photos in the book depicting this. It is a hard life.

I go, you go, Fogo!

                                                                     From a more hopeful time.

Pardon the silliness of the title, but I’ll be off to Fogo Island on the north coast of Newfoundland. It, after arriving in St. John’s, will be the first stop in my second trip up there. It is there where I hope to find and start to photograph the newly realized core of my book, “Arn? Narn.”

Just what is that core? It’s what I had already known but not realized; then realized but didn’t understand; and now it was a growing awareness of the impact of the fishing moratorium and it’s subsequent long-term effects. It was as my Fogo Island innkeeper was to tell me, “What you see now will not be here in 10-12 years.” That wasn’t prescient; it was fact: one I was still to discover first hand.

Fogo Island is so uniquely Newfoundland. (Where else could you be greeted by The Mouse?) The name was originally Y del Fogo, meaning island of fire. There is speculation as to the origin of the name: perhaps it was the native Beothuk’s (now extinct) campfires or multiple forest fires, but no one is certain.

The island supported itself solely on fishing as had the entire province. Now it was suffering the same fate as that of the larger “mainland” island. True, it had the annual Brimstone Head Folk festival each summer on Brimstone Head, (reputed by the Flat Earth Society to be one of the four corners of the earth!) but that was in early August for only a few days. A week before that is the Ethridge Point Seaside Festival in Joe Batt’s Arm. These bring some tourists in but for a short time, not enough to make much of a difference.

I was to be here for nearly a week in which I would be able to roam and photograph across the island, talk with people directly, and get a better feel for this environment. I would learn that Fogo was the main outport/town on Fogo Island – do not confuse the two. Fogo (the town) is joined by the communities of Joe Batt’s Arm, Seldom, Little Seldom, Tilting, Barr’d Islands, and Stag Harbour. In 2006 they all came together to form the Town of Fogo, while retaining their individual personalities. More to come on Fogo soon.