If you are a news junkie like I am, it is possible to pay too much attention to the daily headlines. Because I have been at the cartooning and column-writing racket for so long, it sometimes happens that I become too focused pedalling up the mountain of news stories on my 24 hour news cycle. My nose is no longer able to detect the delicate aroma of roses even when those beautiful flowers are spraying spores up my nostrils.
That's a pity.
Humankind's nose and ears are attached to our heads for something more important than keeping our eyeglasses in place.
I realized that was so, once again, when Lisa and I went out for a two-night inaugural trip in our new-to-us R.V. It was to be a weekend celebration recalling the rich life to be celebrated hearing, seeing, smelling, touching and tasting all the magic and glory that surrounds those of us lucky enough to call this province home. This short voyage through Bonavista North awoke me once again to that reality.
Before we set out, newscasts were full of dire warnings. Impending catastrophe was threatened if the Republicans and Democrats - the two gangs who fight a constant turf war in the neighbourhood south of us - couldn't control themselves. They needed to stop committing verbal assault on one another long enough to make payroll for the employees who actually run their country. Or else. Or else what? I asked myself.
I asked that question of the two foxes who approached our campsite on Cape Freels at dusk. One was dark gray with a hint of red, its tail ending in midnight black, punctuated by a period of purest white. The other was all red, save for a black nose, legs and tail which ended in white too. What elegant creatures they were as they trotted along! Each one's thick tail floating aft like a rodney behind a trap skiff.
The foxes seemed disinterested by the impending bankruptcy of the world's only remaining superpower. Looking back, I realize they were drawn by the smell of our supper cooking on the stove in the camper. They came very close to the vehicle and began circling it. I went out with my camera to capture an image before they were lost to view in the fading light. I feared they might run away, but once they saw me, they hung around, lying down with their paws stretched out in front of them. The pose of a beggar. I realized they must be looking to have supper with us. We had only counted on enough for two of us, so we closed the door and sat down to eat. At first we could see them continuing to circle. After a while though, they got the message and faded into the deepening dark, two shrinking dots vanishing into the night.
You can't visit Cape Freels without walking some of the kilometres of beaches, often pounded by long arcs of rollers proceeding endlessly down the length of the white sand. There was little wind when we were there, a rarity. Another surprise, there were few shorebirds to be seen where normally squads of dozens patrol the sand on foot before taking off, flying in tight formation to an agreed upon spot and pitching, to peck for grub among the decomposing clumps of seaweed. The air is scented with salt and decay, a rich aroma that attracts the hungry birds who, on the day we were there, must have been looking for satisfaction elsewhere, like former Dunderdale supporters.
There I go again. Even in this paradise, it's impossible to forget entirely what I do for a living.
The brilliant sun the morning we were to leave beckoned us to one last spot, the summit of a low hill that marks the apex of Cape Freels. On all sides there is either shoal-infested sea, giving way to the open ocean, marsh, ponds or low-lying fields dotted with igneous boulders. The view is three hundred and sixty degrees.
To the southeast Cape Bonavista, twenty miles off, is hidden in the haze. To the east and north Europe is tucked away somewhere, well beyond the horizon. To the north the white sands of Lumsden mark the beginning of the Straight Shore dividing, like the shaft of an arrow, water from land. I know of no other place where those two domains are sliced so cleanly apart.
To the west, shimmering in layers of silver mirage are the houses of Newtown a background to the rock speckled marshes and ponds that stretch away so low that it is hard to imagine how the North Atlantic fails to come ashore and have its way with them.
It was in this most wonderful spot in the last hours before we left to return home that the magic work was completed. Looking over the sun-silvered sea we were hypnotized. All thoughts of the mundane, the day-to-day and the tiresome were banished. We had tasted what really mattered, swallowed, and were filled with the Evermore.