The bunkhouse faces south nestled in a field of tall grasses and wildflowers that gently sway in the breeze. The boardwalk that links together the historic buildings of the village of Battle Harbour ends at my porch. I am seated in an old-style straight-backed, doweled chair that I have carried out from the living room. As I shift out of a cross-legged position, my numb bottom tells me this chair was made for durability, not for comfort. I lay my book on my lap and close my eyes, tilting my head back and lifting my face up to the sun. Letting my shoulders slump, I draw in a long breath and exhale. Could a person feel more content?
As I mentioned, the boardwalk ends at my lodging and a well-trodden path takes over, disappearing behind the bunkhouse. I am curious to follow it, and get a look around the island. Rising from my chair, I put my book inside and leap down from the porch onto the shortcut around the back and up the embankment to the former Ranger station.
I am faced with the biggest decision I have to make today: do I turn left towards the church, graveyard and the island trails beyond, or turn right towards Dr. Grenfell’s home and the rocky bluffs? Still languishing in my laziness, I conclude that the rocky bluff is the shortest commitment and the quickest reward so that is where I head.
The island comes to an abrupt end on a boulder-strewn abutment, and the all-powerful Labrador Sea carries on with no end in sight. It may look calm and beautiful but it doesn’t fool me. A shiver rolls up my spine and the hairs on my arms stand up. Not because it is cold but because It makes me feel small and vulnerable. One minute I could be standing here happy to be alive, taking pictures, and the next moment I could find myself thrashing against a rogue wave that has scooped me off the rock. I would have zero chance of surviving out there. “No thank you.” I shake my head to banish that thought, then step back just a wee bit more. I hadn’t noticed but just a few meters away are a man and women. I am slightly embarrassed, wondering if they heard me talking to myself. Oh well at least someone would see me going under.
They are preoccupied, looking at the ground while they talk to each other. I walk over to them and call out, “Hi, beautiful day.” I get an immediate reply from the gentleman, “It sure is,” I introduce myself as Kelly, He is Jim, she is Una. Not wanting to stall the conversation, I ask, “What are you looking for?” Una says, “Bakeapples, we found a few”.
“Bakeapples” I repeat nodding with my eyebrows raised. “Forgive me, but I don’t know what a bakeapple is.” She explains they are the most expensive berries in the world. Jim walks around the ground and finds some and calls me over to have a look. “Well look at that, I have never seen a berry like that in my life.” I look up and ask, “Can I eat it, is it ripe?” He nods, yes to go a head and try it. I pluck it from its nest and pop it in my mouth. The sweet taste of apples and cinnamon is undeniable. “Ha! … Baked apple indeed!” I can’t believe I have never even heard of this berry, let alone eaten one. Now I am walking around staring at the ground, the scenery has been forgotten.
“You two are so cute, can I take your picture? If I get a nice I one I will be sure to email it to you, I promise.” I can almost hear the unspoken communication between them as they look at each other; do we trust her, is she trying to sell us something? Without speaking they immediately go into a standing-tall ridge pose like two strangers. I have to fix the thread of distrust I have created, and after a few practice shots, I tell them ” I have a travel blog and I like to capture photos that help me remember the feel of a place when I am writing a story. That is … if you are ok with being in travel blog?” I let it hang in the air and their postures relax. I follow up, requesting in my most humorous voice “How about a little snuggle together?” I motion with my hands for them to get a little closer. They shimmy inward and Una lays her head on Jim’s chest and gives a big smile and I snap the shutter, “That’s the one you want.” I bring it up on the viewer and show them. They seem to approve of it, I confirm It is adorable. I find out Una and Jim are from the eastern part of Newfoundland, they are both retired and enjoying travelling.
I ask if they wouldn’t mind taking a few photos of me and I hand my camera over and get several shots from all directions. We share a few travel stories from around the province. I tell them how impressed I am and how much I have have enjoyed myself. “I thought Newfoundland was like Cape Breton. It is not even close, we have two different cultures.” We discuss what brought us to Battle Harbour, for them it was an anniversary gift to themselves and – being Newfoundlanders during COVID, having to travel within their own province – it seemed like the best time to finally do it. We bought up our hesitancy at the price and distance as the main barriers, but in the end, it was the once-in-a-lifetime experience which won us over.
I tell them I am in the bunkhouse, I point down the hill towards it. They are in a suite in the big house “just over there. It is a little smaller than we expected for the price.” Being budget-minded, they are undecided if the package they purchased will live up to its hype.
Knowing from all my travelling that the secret to having fun comes from a person’s attitude, not found in a location, I offer a bit of hospitality. “I brought some wine with me and I would be so happy if you’d pop by the bunkhouse and share it with me before the pub tonight.” They accept my invitation and I look forward to entertaining guests.
Please join me again on Battle Harbour, NFLD. Happy travels from Maritimemac
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