Heavenly DaysTHE BIG CHILL, The Final Chapter
Less than an hour after we returned home, we began to wonder whether we had dreamed up Newfoundland and Labrador or if such a place really existed. Unpacking our bags, we laughed as we pulled out long johns and winter caps. In the sweltering South, it hardly seemed possible that we wearing such items just a week ago. Now all that's left is looking back on the memories of two weeks at the eastern edge of the continent.
|East Coast Trail at Signal Hill, St. John's|
|Light station near Signal Hill|
In our all too brief two weeks traveling around Newfoundland and a tiny, tiny sliver of Labrador, we observed a number of things which we came to think of as distinctively Newfoundlandish. Though they may exist elsewhere, they occurred there in numbers too large to be coincidence. Some were self-evident, while others required some assistance from a Newfie to understand their purpose and meaning.
Beyond urban areas like St. John's and Corner Brook, virtually every house in Newfoundland has a wooden receptacle near the roadside for the purpose of storing garbage. They come in an endless variety of designs, some to match the house, some just whimsical. Some sport the house number, and some even support the mailbox. Whatever the design, they keep seabirds, bears or whatever other wildlife your neighborhood harbors out of your garbage.
Another familiar sight along Newfoundland and Labrador roads, especially in the Northern Peninsula, was an endless string of roadside woodpiles. Individuals pay a government permit to cut wood on public land. Then the wood is hauled to a roadside area for storage, where longer logs are arranged in a pyramid, teepee style, to allow them to dry out. Once seasoned, the wood is chopped to stove length and stacked in neat, standard size rows. Often the telephone number of the pile's owner will be painted on a board and attached to the pile for the convenience of purchasers. Winter lasts six months in Newfoundland, and fuel prices are very high, so most families go through lots of firewood each year.
Like the roadside gardens, these woodpiles are not targets for theft. According to locals, you don't steal from your neighbor in Newfoundland. The harsh conditions and often brutal winters require a culture of interdependence for survival.
For convenience, trees are cut in winter for the following year's firewood. Since every family owns a snowmobile, hauling the wood from the cutting location to storage is much easier with a snowmobile-pulled sled. And these are stored along the roadside also.
|Rock Box Bases|
Try as we might we were never able to obtain a definitive answer for why some utility poles in Newfoundland had rock-filled wooden frames at their bases. Among the replies locals offered were that the ground was too rocky or too boggy to support the pole. Yet often, as pictured here, one pole would have what we came to call the rock box base while an adjacent pole did not.
As we already mentioned in another blog post, roadsides in Newfoundland, especially those on the northern peninsula, are lined with individually operated gardens. With topsoil at such a premium, no right-minded Newfoundlander would build a house in a place with loamy soil, so they live on rock on the coast and garden along the highway inland where road construction turned up sufficient arable soil.
|East Coast Trail at Signal Hill|
You can always tell the Newfoundlanders in heaven. They're the ones who want to go home.
June 26, 2014