Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Operatic paddle for November

[Photo credits: Neil Burgess]

The sky gathered blue behind us, like a bride trailing her veil.

Act One:

We begin at Little Harbour East, at the head of Placentia Bay, after a car shuttle to Fairhaven where we'd end the paddle, about 22km to the south. Readying the boats for launch, we chat with a few older locals. One fellow talks about his grandfather, Robert Hann who, around 1900, ran a lobster cannery in Little Pinchgut Cove.

By the crack of noon we slice into the water, paddling out the harbour to face the march of cliffs along Long Island and Merasheen. Far out in the bay courses a fishing boat, haloed with seagulls like fleas around an old dog.

Some miles out, near Long Island and Merasheen, an oil tanker sails fast.


[Scudded with over 300 islands,160km long by 130km wide, where fog plays a leading role two days out of three, Placentia Bay is renown for its fishing grounds and bird sanctuaries. It's also one of the busiest oil handling ports in Canada. Tanker traffic is fairly intense. And it's about to get a lot more tense. The Bay may now host a second oil refinery as well as a LNG terminal. Traffic congestion and lack of emergency preparedness could well spell disaster for this naturally and culturally distinct area.]

Act Two

A pair of loons rehearse an aria. A pair of moose on a ridge stand guard. We paddle around Pumbly Cove and Great Pinchgut and enter Little Pinchgut for lunch. A view as wide as imagination. And, sadly, a beach choking on plastic.


[Salt meat buckets, oil containers, fishing nets, shoes, pop bottles. A commonly held perception is that our beaches and coastal environment is 'pristine' and 'untouched'. Sadly, that's a myth. Many beaches, particularly on the south coast of Newfoundland, are eyesores and some are hazardous to marine wildlife. Where on earth does all this garbage come from? Certainly a number of sources but the short answer is - us. ]

Act Three

Paddling into an operatic light. Crepuscular rays from a silver sun spotlight the salt water and yellow-dressed larches, cast promise across the knobbly hills. A sea in repose. And cradling rocks, a many tendrilled kelp rises and sinks beneath the ocean's breath, a benign monster.

Act Four

Rounding the last headland, we're off the water by 5pm as dusk starts eating around us.

i've updated some windows - having difficulty posting.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Ban the Bomb not Books

Pullman is a superb writer and his "Dark Materials" trilogy is an intelligent read for young adults who've thumbed through Potter and want something more. Unfortunately, a Catholic school board in Ontario has pulled The Golden Compass fantasy book (soon to be a Hollywood blockbuster starring Nicole Kidman) off school library shelves. Guess they didn't like a statement in one of Pullman's interviews in which he said he was an atheist. Yup. That was the reason folks. Almost sounds like this is Amurica. Anyway, get out and read a copy (it's not just for kids). Before the flick comes to a screen near you.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

and the short list is...

The short-list from Biblioasis - of course we're giggly in this household because one of us (the one with curly greying hair who gets a kick out of making coffins with the kids on hallowe-en) is on it:

"It took a little longer this year to winnow through the manuscripts, but we're ready to announce the shortlist to the 3rd Annual Metcalf-Rooke Award. After sorting through more than 50 manuscripts, John and Leon selected the following four:

Grant Buday. Dragonflies. (Novel)

Bruce Johnson. Firmament. (Novel)

Rebecca Rosenblum. Once. (Short fiction)

J. J. Steinfield. Contemplating Madness (Short fiction)

We'll be announcing the winner on Friday, November 23rd. The winner will receive a $1500.00 advance, a publishing contract with Biblioasis (with their book set for Fall 2008 publication), a book tour (which will include an appearance at the Ottawa International Writer's Festival), a leather bound copy of their book, a special pre-publication profile in the New Quarterly, and other as-yet-to-be-determined perks.Congratulations to the shortlisted authors. "

waytago bruce.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

coming soon - operatic return to Fairhaven, Placentia Bay

The sky gathered blue behind us, like a bride gathering her veil...

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Chance Cove - all days are sundays

(Photos of Chance Cove, TB courtesy of Graham Openshaw)

In a 2003 trip report about paddling Chance Cove to Rantem Harbour - a short but enlightening trip - I wrote that the paddle, like all fine things in life (tasting good chocolate, listening to bullfrogs, reading Barbara Kingsolver), should be enjoyed slowly, reverentially. And so when a late October chance to paddle the Chance arose, I grabbed it - and my 12-year-old enthusiastic daughter - along with several other members of our ever-expanding kayaking club.

October around the Chance offers a different view. Fewer eagles and the noisy terns and flashy guillimots were noticeably absent. Instead, the bright yellow and muted orange of larch, birch and dogberry softened the edges of Rantem Harbour. And anyway, rocks, caves, stacks, passageways have a tendency to stay put. Just one day past a full moon meant we were treated to a greater tidal range.

Daughter Ella was intrigued by the intertidal flora and fauna exposed by a low low tide and kept steering our borrowed double in close. Encouragement by another paddler had us both squeezing through passageways and rock hopping in places that I would not have thought a double could possibly manage. And while a double is far from my preferred mode of paddling, I was surprised at the agility we attained. Smiles from offspring #1 were well worth it.