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Newfoundland in a New World
Greetings from Ontario! Hope everyone is doing well now that the pandemic restrictions are easing up. No matter where we are on the map, we've all been cooped up a little too long, and some of us are daydreaming of past vacations that went beyond our backyards. For me, I'm thinking of the trip I took to Newfoundland a scant three years ago, back when there was no need for masks or social distancing or uh-oh-did-someone-just-cough panic. It's almost surreal that we could board a crowded airplane bare-faced, the only masks neatly stowed out of sight for emergency oxygen. Equally bizarre that not only would you share an armrest and ask a stranger to pass along your pack of peanuts, but we were all breathing the same contained air, droplets and all. I've been a mainlander all my life, without a real passion for travel. But, for the first time ever, Newfoundland called to me back in the olden days , also known as the summer of 2017. Today the mere thought of travel is foreign. There's more adventure and thrill-seeking trying to buy cereal at your local store. In this crazy new world, I sometimes think back to the wonderful experiences and sights and people I encountered out east, and I wonder how you folks are faring these days. You, who are famous for crowded pubs, friendly folks and cod-kissing tourists. That kind of closeness is taboo these days. You just don't know where that cod's lips have been. So, really, what is happening to the tourism industry out your way? Are you folks enjoying the respite from all the Come From Aways? Or would you rather sidle up to us at the pub again? Elbow to elbow on George Street..... as long as we cough into our own elbow. Who is discovering your charming rural communities these days? Who is marveling at the grand expanse of Gros Morne Park? Who is surveying the city of St. John's from the godlike view from Signal Hill? Surely the wildlife is enjoying the absence of gawkers and the constant tromping of tourists. I think of those giant pandas out in Hong Kong who only "got it on" once all the tourists disappeared due to the pandemic. Those big teddies just needed a bit of privacy. Is it the same with the wildlife out your way? The whales have always had an entire ocean to play in. Now it must seem even bigger. True bliss. I imagine that even edible sea life might be happier getting to see their cousins and brethren more often in their natural habitat rather than on a tourist's dinner plate. If they had emotions, that is. And what of those marvelous small businesses in Newfoundland? I'm thinking of the B&Bs I stayed at in St. John's and Ferryland, where I got a picture-perfect breakfast At Wit's End, and a lovely morning serenade by the owners at Dunne's. How are they managing these days? I think of the picturesque town of Trinity, already tiny throughout much of the year. To have it robbed of tourists who delight in the retelling of East Coast history is truly a shame. I so enjoyed the walking tour, the plays I saw at the Rising Tide Theatre, the re-creation of Newfoundland history by actors in traditional garb. Armchair tourists are a mixed lot these days. Some are appreciating the relative stillness of the new world, the break from routine, the slowing of the pace. But I would imagine that Newfoundlanders must miss the tourists. Not just to boost the economy but because they genuinely seem to enjoy the chats and the sharing of fun and food and memories. I'm sure we're all familiar with photos of famous landmarks before and during the pandemic. Places like the Taj Mahal, the Eiffel Tower and the canals of Venice are enjoying a smog-free breather now that the constant crowds and noise and engines have halted. But Newfoundland.... You've got a lot of space. And you're always so welcoming. I'd like to think you miss us a little. And even if you don't, I just want you to know that we miss you. So, stay safe, folks. We'll see you soon. -- Betty Midgley