Thursday, July 2, 2015

The nanny-baas and the rabbit

Rocky Harbour, NL – Today, after a stop at the Visitor Centre for suggestions on what to see, we set off along the shore high-way to see the lighthouse at Lobster Cove Head.  The “head” was the point of land where the building stood high on a rocky outcropping and visible for more than 20 km out to sea.

The wind combed through the long grass along the path to the lighthouse and made the flags crack to attention on the pole next to its white tower. Old photos of the original lighthouse keeper and his family were displayed in a small side building, where Bonnie-Lou, the Parks Canada guide, waited to chat with visitors.

Born into a fishing family in Sally’s Cove, Bonnie-Lou knew all about the hardships and challenges of eking out a living by the sea – and her accent charmed us both! She talked about getting stuck in the “hoice” (oh! We said: ice!) in winter, and the time her mother got caught in the middle of a herd of “nanny-baas” on the way back from the store. These were sheep that had got loose and were curious to see what her mother had in her paper bag.
Then there was the time her mother leapt out of the truck to catch a rabbit hopping along the road, so that Bonnie-Lou could have the pet rabbit she always wanted. She kept it until out of pity she let it go. We could have listened to her all day.

A little further up the coast, we turned off for the interpretive presentation about fishing at Broom Point. The site used to be the home of three brothers who fished these shores from the 1940s to the 1970s. When they retired, they sold their property to Parks Canada, to tell visitors about Newfoundland’s early days when they thought the cod would be there forever. Dry wooden lobster traps and musty-smelling nets were on display in the building by the water, along with canning equipment, ropes and a couple of sturdy wooden dories that once took to the waves.
Bill, our guide, told us that the international fishing waters were changed from a 12-mile limit to a 200-mile limit about 20 years too late. By then industrial fishing gear had hauled fish by the millions from the water and destroyed the spawning grounds on the sea bottom, so that a recovery, since the moratorium in 1991, would be almost impossible.  Strict limits are set on “by-catches” of cod, picked up inadvertently by fishers of turbot and halibut. This is where the cod on restaurant menus come from today.

Some late-arriving visitors came in and told us they’d just spotted a caribou on the property, so we went out for a look. There on the hill was a fine-looking beast, trotting about nervously as a tourist tried to get closer for a photo. We got to watch him for several minutes before he loped into the trees.

Bill told us about a moose-meat supper up the road at the Anglican Church in St.Paul, and what better place to do it than in a church basement where they served it up with mashed potatoes, carrots, turnip, peas and a slice of partridge berry pie for dessert? A great ending to a great day.

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