In a fishing village like Newtown, you will often see brightly-painted buoys adorning fences, rails and walls, particularly in summer.
While buoys of all types are still used for fishing. . .
. . . many are adapted solely for decoration.
As fall approaches, most of the buoys will be put away until next summer, but some embellish the landscape all year round.
When creating the title for this post, I couldn’t help but be reminded of the Don Henley song, The Boys of Summer.
“I can tell you my love for you will still be strong
after the boys of summer have gone.”
Of course, if you are from anywhere besides the U.S., my play on words makes sense.
All other English-speaking countries pronounce buoy like “boy”, whereas most Americans pronounce it “boo-ee”. I wonder why.
And if that’s the case, how do Americans pronounce “buoyant” and “buoyancy”?
How do you pronounce buoy?
(And can you tell I’m not
ready for summer to end?)
Alexander Perry, or Skipper Alex (aka Alec) as he was called by many, was my husband’s grandfather. For those that don’t already know, our home on Perry’s Point for the past ten years is the same home in which Alexander and his wife Mary Jane lived and raised their large family.
Alexander worked as a skipper on a number of fishing schooners. He made many trips to Labrador to fish for cod, which he brought back to Newtown to be cured before it was carried by ship from St. John’s to England and sometimes Jamaica.
Although I never met the man, I’ve heard many good things about him. Skipper Alex was widely admired for his seafaring abilities, his pleasant disposition and gentle spirit, and his flair for storytelling. Locals loved to visit with him—or he with them—to be regaled with colourful tales of his experiences. Of course, having a love of stories myself, I wish I could have known him back in the day.
Below is a letter from Pompano Beach, Florida that Paul found in a box in the attic when we renovated our house. It was written by John Maxwell Barbour, known as Max, the eldest son of Captain Alphaeus Barbour. I imagine the letter meant something to Alex for him to hold onto it like that. He would have been 81 when he received it, and Max, 69. I typed the letter out for easier reading.
Jan. 22, 1969
Dear Skipper Alex,
This carries to you and to your good wife my warm congratulations on your 56th wedding anniversary.
Seeing your excellent picture brought back many memories of my boyhood days in Newtown and of our many contacts, all of which were pleasant and helpful in shaping me for the years ahead. To put it quite plainly, during that period you were one of my favourite adults and without question your personality made a good impression on me.
To my mind’s ear the sound of the guns fired at your wedding still comes thru. I recall the happy occasion well altho I was not old enough then to be a guest.
My wife joins me in sending you and your wife best wishes for continued health and happiness.
Very sincerely, Max Barbour.
Many thanks to Lester Barbour for giving me some background on Max.
Photo credits: James Maine
Given the COVID-19 pandemic, I’m having trouble concentrating long enough to compose an original post. So today I’ll share a post from exactly five years ago, a nostalgic look back to simpler times.
When my husband Paul was six years old, he and his family moved from Newtown – the little community in which we live now – to live in the capital city of St. John’s. Their parents relocated so that Paul’s oldest sibling David could attend the Vera Perlin school for his special needs.
On the day of the big move, Paul crawled up under the house – the actual house we live in now – in a show of protest. “Everyone should be able to live where they were born,” he argued through tears, but the die had been cast. He was pulled out and packed into the car with everyone else.
On the very first day at their new school, Paul and his other brother Kevin, who is one year older, decided to walk home from school for lunch, despite being told to stay there and eat the lunch they’d brought. But when they saw other children going home, they wanted to go as well. Unfamiliar with their new neighbourhood, the two boys got lost, and Kevin started to cry.
Brave little Paul tried his best to console his big brother by distracting him. “Don’t cry, Kev. Look at the pigeons,” he said, pointing at a bunch of them as they waddled across the sidewalk, hoping the strange, tame city birds might cheer him up. It worked, and they ended up following a classmate to his house. Between the jigs and the reels, their dad had to leave work and go pick them up.
Let’s go back a couple of years when Paul was four and Kevin was five, to another time the younger boy displayed his wisdom. A new addition to the family of three boys had arrived, and this time, it was a girl! When their mom brought baby Julie Ann home, the boys crowded around to get a look at their new sister. Kevin’s eyes opened wide when her diaper came off to be changed. “Look, Paul,” he said, incredulous. “She ain’t got nar topper!” (penis)
“No, ya foolish,” Paul said, enlightened beyond his years. “She got whatever Mom got.”
Now before you think I’m beating up on my brother-in-law, I’d like to share one more tale. Okay, two. When Paul was about nine and enjoying his summer vacation in Newtown, Kevin saved him from drowning. Paul was diving with some other boys off of Burnt Island, but he tired in the deep water and panicked. Kevin grabbed him by the hair on top of his head and pulled him to safety.
Years later, when Kevin was just beginning his teaching career, he and Paul were driving along in St. John’s one evening. Without warning, Kevin pulled over, stopped the car, and jumped out. He’d spied two teenage boys in a fist fight near the local hockey rink, and he wanted to stop them. Paul watched as he parted the boys, reasoned with them, and ended the scuffle.
It was a day he never forgot. Where most people would just keep going and not get involved, Kevin stepped in and tried to solve the problem. It made Paul really proud of his brother.
Paul confessed there were other boyhood fights where Kev stepped in and rescued Paul himself, fights my husband started and couldn’t finish. I would say he’s grateful for those too. And so am I. 🙂
Our dear little Vivian is recuperating from a coyote attack. At least that is our best guess, after her vet in Gander said the wounds under her tail came from four large canine teeth, too large to be another cat, weasel or mink.
There are no roaming dogs in the vicinity, but there have been plenty of coyote sightings around the shore and right here in Newtown. Needless to say, our cats will never go out in the evening or night again. After almost nine years of outdoor escapades since we moved here from the city, this is the first time anything like this has happened. Darn coyotes!
Chelsea the vet sedated her, stitched her up, and administered an antibiotic dose good for two weeks. We gave her anti-inflammatory medicine for seven days and oodles of TLC.
Her sutures come out on Wednesday, and we can’t wait. The past eleven days have been tough, mostly due to the joys of the Elizabethan collar. Vivian was depressed at first, but a few days ago she snapped back to her old silly self, chasing Maisie around the house. So funny to see Maisie run away, apparently spooked by the contraption on her sister’s head (she usually play-fights back).
Everything will work out, Vivian. We’re so grateful we didn’t lose you.
And I’m sure you have at least five or six lives left in you yet.
This cool photo of Perry’s Point was snapped last week on Monday, November 5th by Paul’s cousin, Winston Perry. He took it from a small plane and gave me permission to share. Check out the sand and the seaweed around the coastline.
That’s my house in the foreground, closest to the end of the point, the blue one with the shed and a little blue outhouse to the far left. A large portion of Newtown is shown in the background.
The sunshine that day makes the house colour look lighter from that angle, but if you click on my Facebook link below, you’ll see its true colour. Laundry and all! That photo was taken by Winston’s brother and our neighbour, Wayne Perry.
Cats, even the cutest of kittens, have a killer instinct. It’s an inherited and hard-wired behavior put into practice by the time a kitten is barely a month old. Mother cats will teach their kittens to hunt by example using trilling and other sounds to indicate the type of prey brought to the den. When kittens are about four weeks old, she brings dead prey to teach identification of prey species and later live prey to teach how to catch and kill. Kittens soon learn to swat, pounce and scoop with their claws extended. They learn to bring the prey home to share as their mother did for them and to play with the prey.
As adults, cats will bring humans (mother substitutes) their bounty as a shared offering. Depending on what’s available, it could be an actual mouse carcass or perhaps a toy mouse in your shoe.*
This past summer, Perry’s Point here in Newtown, Newfoundland & Labrador received a new addition. A project of the Cape Freels Development Association, this information display is a reminder and a history lesson to all about the first people who inhabited this area: the Beothuks.
I will let the display speak for itself.
Please read to learn more about this fascinating First Nation.
Thank you to the Cape Freels Association, Winston Perry, and to anyone else involved in this worthy initiative.
As it happened, earlier this year I readThe Last Beothuk, the newest release by localauthor Gary Collins. I wholly recommend this historical novel to anyone interested in learning more about the way of life of these indigenous people and what ultimately became of them.
Inspired by True Events:
“Long after Demasduit’s skull has been stolen from her grave, and years after Shanawdithit has died, one Beothuk and his family survive. Bursting out of the pages of Newfoundland history appears Kop, the last true Beothuk. When all the other members of his tribe are exterminated by the Europeans, Kop seeks revenge against the Unwanted Ones. Hidden among the Bear Clan of the Mi’kmaq, the Beothuk strikes back. Follow Kop on his trail of defiance against the European marauders upon his Island. See what becomes of a man who has nothing to lose or live for. Stay with him on a hundred trails and sit with him across the smoke of a hundred campfires. You will not only weep for the last Beothuk—you will cheer him on as he pushes back against the Unwanted Ones.”