Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Ragged Harbour & the brass button man

july 2002 I took the family on a road trip 'all around the circle' like the song. One of our first stops was at the cabin of a friend, well-known musician Eric West. His little cabin in Ragged Harbour is but a 15-mins drive from his home in Ladle Cove on the straight shore. Across from Fogo Island. Well, it's too hard to describe to those not familiar with Newfoundland but suffice to say it's pretty rugged by even Newfoundland standards. Bakeapple-bog flats behind, cold ocean beyond - I was standing on a thin wedge of terra-maybe-firma.
Anyway, Eric graciously loaded us up with goods from his freezer - moose, caplin, greens, his mum's homemade bread, cake, squares. We were good. I squeezed the car over the mussel-laden dirt road and it farted to a stop in front of his emerald-green cabin. Kids piled out and quickly got a beach fire started for dinner. That night Eric joined us and we sat in the dark as he played guitar, enthralling the kids with his many songs including the 'Brass Button Man' - a song that sent gleeful shivers down the kids' backs as they thought about this strange fellow on Duck Island - not far from where we were now staying.
Eric is also a paddler, and we'd planned a couple of day paddles. The wind had other plans so we kept our kayaking and canoeing short in the sheltered reaches of this bay.
But Ragged Harbour left its imprint on me. And the few days spent there - watching the kids make inukshuks on an island at low tide, eating meals on the rocky beach, and revelling in thunderstorm backlighting the tuckamore - turned into a short story, 'Products of Erosion ', that was published last summer in The Nashwaak Review.


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