Downhome Magazine

Outport Reflections

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Resurrecting childhood memories of outport NL never fails to instill in me the assurance that I grew up in the right place at the right time.<br />
Remember the stillness of a sunny Sunday morning with not a ripple on the water in the cove. So still, you could hear the squeaking sound caused by the friction of wooden paddles rubbing against wooden thole pins as someone rowed a punt. The stillness was further broken by the ringing of the church bell. The stillness is broken today by things once considered taboo on Sunday. The sound of power saws, lawnmowers and automobiles all but drown out the sound of the church bell.<br />
I remember summer holidays when young girls would visit our community from different parts of the province. All hell would break loose on times as the lads in the cove weighed for the attention of those &quot;fair damsels&quot;. Fisticuffs sometimes resulted from heated confrontations.<br />
Animals roamed freely, horses and sheep would enter fenced properties through a left open gate. Trying to get the animals to exit through the same gate proved difficult as they would go around and around several times before deciding to leave. Close observance of the animals as they performed their mating rituals helped us to disperse the myth that storks and stumps were involved in where babies came from.<br />
As boys we gazed over the &quot;stage head&quot; into crystal clear water, observing a host of sea creatures. Every year squid and capelin rolled ashore on the beaches. Sadly, your gaze now falls upon murky water with automobile tires, bicycle frames and plastic containers littering the bottom where the sea creatures were. The squid and capelin no longer enter the toxic water of the cove.<br />
A small brook flowed behind our house. It yielded many a meal of delicious trout. I recall lying in bed at night listening to the babbling water of the brook. The brook still babbles but no one eats the trout.<br />
One memory I try to block but cannot is the memory of the outdoor toilet. Our &quot;Cottonelle&quot; so to speak was the Eaton's catalogue and brown paper bags. I would rate the flush toilet invention right up there with the invention of the wheel. On a humorous note I remember when our cove was connected by road to a neighbouring community. My father, fortunate enough to own a car took a man and his wife for a ride. As they rode along the wife looked at her husband and said, &quot;If we had a car like this we would be killed more than once.&quot;<br />
Uncomfortable situations with a little fear involved is a guaranteed memory retainer. Such was the case when a classmate of mine in the lower grades. At recess time, he had a misfortune in the bushes as he answered the call of nature. He had to return home to clean up and change his clothing. Upon the resumption of class the teacher inquired as to the whereabouts of our classmate. The class with limited vocabularies was unable to find the words to describe what had happened. Only after being faced with the threat of staying after school hours did someone blurt out enough information for the teacher to get the picture as to what had occurred.<br />
I recall the church ladies having a fundraiser. The mother of a friend of mine baked a cake with something hidden inside. The idea was to pay for each guess as to what was hidden in the cake. My friend relayed to me what his mother had placed inside. You can well imagine the looks of suspicion when I piped up with the correct answer which was a &quot;budgie bird feather.&quot; The cake was delicious.<br />
I remember the local storekeeper. As a child, it was like a performance to me as he used a knife to cut portions of bologna, ham and cheese &quot;exactly&quot; to the specifications of the customer, wrapped them with the exact amount of brown paper torn from a mounted roll. He completed his act by neatly tying the purchase and bursting the string with a &quot;snap.&quot;<br />
When I was a boy there were twelve inches in a foot. The first day of spring was the 21st of March and not the 20th. At bedtime, folks wound up the &quot;time piece&quot; and threw the cat outside. Remember when blueberries were red because they were green?<br />
<br />
Gary Rideout<br />
Pasadena, NL<br />

 
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