Newfoundland, Part 3

On our trans-island route to the eastern peninsulas of Newfoundland, we passed a lot of tempting trout and salmon rivers. Eventually we would meet Atlantic Dave, a white-haired boat tour captain and a former teacher now living in Terwillengate, the so-called “Iceberg Capital of the World.”

Captain Dave grew up in a small roadless village across the bay. Our small touring group would soon observe that village closely when Dave lowered his anchor at the cliffs nearby and pulled up several lobster traps that he employed. He inspected a female lobster ripe with eggs then gently freed her in the shallow water. Next, he pointed toward the empty village.

“That’s the house I lived in as a kid. I own the place and try to keep it up. I helped to build that dock to earn some money as a teen. We carried rocks from the cliff right here.” Dave, typically a jovial and humorous instructor, suddenly grew pensive and teary-eyed as he recollected the adventures of his youth and then proclaimed that, sadly, we were probably looking at the future of Newfoundland’s village life and the fishing culture that sustained it.

The captain was friendly with a pair of nesting bald eagles that always seemed to await his arrival when providing a tour. He had carried some frozen fish in the boat and tossed one to the rocks. “Come on mama!” he shouted. “Come and feed those young ones!” The female eagle launched out from her nest, settled on the rocks and grabbed the fish, then rose back to her nestlings. “Now watch this,” said Dave. He took another fish and tossed it to a new location on the rocks. “Come on, papa– get off yer watch and grab a bite!” The male eagle leapt off his sentry post and dropped down to the offering. The big bird clutched the codfish in its talons and returned to the heights. A dozen landlubbers on vacation were delighted.

Captain Dave opened out his motor and we sped across the bay, checking out the rocky isles where gulls and guillemots and cormorants nested in dense colonies. Atlantic Dave provided a fine excursion, and a preview of a greater ocean ride to come.

American redstart

rose pogonia

pine grosbeak, dandelion seeds

Stay tuned for a final installment!

About rivertoprambles

Welcome to Rivertop Rambles. This is my blog about the headwaters country-far afield or close to home. I've been a fly-fisher, birder, and naturalist for most of my adult life. I've also written poetry and natural history books for thirty years. In Rambles I will mostly reflect on the backcountry of my Allegheny foothills in the northern tier of Pennsylvania and the southern tier of New York State. Sometimes I'll write about the wilderness in distant states, or of the wild places in the human soul. Other times I'll just reflect on the domestic life outdoors. In any case, I hope you enjoy. Let's ramble!
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14 Responses to Newfoundland, Part 3

  1. More ‘Wow’. Sounds like a great encounter with the boat captain. I wonder how many visitors he gets in a season and how long that season is for taking people out? You’re really getting some great pictures with that new camera (presumably). Great bird pics – exposures of the seas-side houses – brightness and contrast looks great. UB

  2. Brent says:

    The thread of rural communities fading away seems pretty universal: Large-scale and labor-efficient fishing, timbering, agriculture, mining, etc. means that fewer people are needed in traditional communities that once relied on many people to do the jobs. While it’s undoubtedly bittersweet for him, a guy like Dave must realize that he’s lucky to be doing something that keeps the fishing heritage alive.

    • Brent, that universal movement toward the large-scale corporate realm afflicts or destroys traditional communities almost everywhere and, unfortunately, the small fishing communities along the coast are not exempt. I agree with your comment. As for Captain Dave, I think he realizes his good fortune in maintaining something of his life within.

  3. plaidcamper says:

    The decline of traditional/rural communities seems pretty commonplace these days… it’s happening along this coast as well. I read Michael Crummey’s “Sweetland” after hearing him at a reading a few years back. It’s an interesting tale set against the backdrop of rural/fishing decline in Newfoundland. Pretty well told, or so I remember.
    Goodness, only one more instalment left from this adventure? Thoroughly enjoying these scenic adventures – thanks again, Walt!

    • Adam, I’ll have to look up Crummey’s “Sweetland.” Sounds interesting, so thanks for the suggestion! Yeah, one more post for this series should wrap it up, and I’m really pleased that you’re enjoying the ride.

  4. Trained eagles! I wonder how long it took for Dave and the eagles to become friends of sort. By the way, I like the grosbeak photo a lot. Beautiful bird.

  5. Neil, those wild eagles almost lent a feeling of being “trained,” or maybe they were training Dave (?). Not sure how long the “friendship” had been maintained, but it seems to work well for all parties. And thanks for commenting on the grosbeak photo, one of my favorites of the lot.

  6. loydtruss says:

    Of all the things you guys have seen and accomplished on this trip the Eagle encounter will be one that will stand out—-the images are outstanding!!—thanks for sharing

  7. Jet Eliot says:

    Gosh, Walt, I am thoroughly enjoying this trip to Newfoundland that you are so generously and poetically sharing with us. Lovely to see these towering cliffs and seaside vistas, the snowy mountain scenes and resident birds and flowers. Also enjoyed the wonderfully crafted portrayal of Dave the captain and the eagle interaction. Loved seeing the pine grosbeak, American redstart and rose pogonia; and I especially enjoyed that last photo for its demonstration of the monumental height of the cliffs.

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