Written by William Butt, reproduced from the Fortune Teller
The howling winds of winter brought too much snow to the back country for most areas. I made an attempt to walk into the high country on the Winter Trail. It was rough going to say the least, and, of course, I was a little out of condition for this uphill walk. As I got higher up the air was sharp and crisp. Every breath I took I could feel my lungs starving for oxygen and I was using more than I was taking in so I had to slow down.
The slow down was well worth it. I got a chance to take a breather and to look over the terrain. From high up it is breath taking in another form; the beauty of the landscape is a photographer's dream. The winds were so high when it blew up here it made odd shapes of mounds of snow that the whole country side changed - castles, boats, geometric shapes that even the best college professor would have to scratch his head to try and work out the sums of all the different angles.
The long grass bent in one direction and the snow drifts in another gave the landscape a swirling effect. As I looked up and down the hill side, I thought that no painter with a brush could capture all the beauty as the sun glistened on the snow to make some places sparkle while other places cast shadows of grotesque figures of long ago witches riding a broom across the evening sky. Visions of the grim reaper's scythe are everywhere as the snow drifts take on sharp tapered peaks.
Giant mounds of snow looked like custard cones that are two colours and the beige coloured grass from here looks almost good enough to taste. Is the fresh air casting a spell? Or is it a vision from a warp that we never knew and can only be seen from high up on a cold winter's day.
A look over the country from up here and one can see where - from long ago when this part of the world was covered with ice - the droppings of large boulders stretch along a valley floor that runs down towards Fortune. A trail of rocks litter the country side in a straight line, packed up from side to side, to a high peak that shows the glacier was melting and dropped its cargo of rocks on the floor of the valley to become the glacier trail. This sight can be seen from a couple
of places on the high country and many riders and walkers have passed over this site but only a few have witnessed its beauty. It could be a hikers dream if only a trail was put to it, another tourist attraction that may never be developed in our lifetime.
Why do we tend to let beauty go by in our countryside and rush off to other provinces to see their beautiful scenes when we have it all right here under our noses?
As my many walks take me to the water front, I see a few town people looking across the gut at the small black objects cutting around the small patches of water inside the harbour ice. Taking a closer look with the field glasses, I can see a family of black ducks with a couple of hounds. They make up a family of fifteen, they are having great fun and the food must be plentiful for they all take turns at getting their catch. I am now wondering if those are the same ones that used
our brook this past summer to raise their young and brought along a few newcomers to show off their nesting sites. If so, then we should be very careful not to disturb them in any way - just let nature take its course in Fortune outdoors
My outdoor activities this month were restricted somewhat. For those of you who don't know, or didn't see me going around with my arm in sling, I had some major surgery done on my shoulder. It's doing ok now and I am on the go again.
My friend and I went to the horn house, parked the truck there and left for a good walk. We went up along the shoreline on the bank overlooking the bay. It was a very nice day for walking so we decided to go down on the beach and make our way along the beach towards Grassy Patch. If you decide to do this trip, be sure you have good footwear as this is very hard walking - but it's worth every minute of it.
As we walked along the beach, we noticed that there were four dead young seals washed up on the beach. It was also noticed that the heads were missing from the seals. I think the sea birds, like Gulls, may have found this a very easy way to get started on a nice meal. However, on telling of our find, we got some other probabilities. Were they shot and drifted ashore? Whatever their fate, they won't eat anymore of the codfish that they prey on.
One of our wild goats that make the high lands their home - they are very secretive but they are there - one fell over the bank while searching for food or died for some other reason. The remains of the goat can be seen at Beachy Cove above the horn house.
As we arrived at the Grassy Patch resting benches, we met another person who had just come down from the Black Rocks. He reported to us that he had seen nineteen seals in a similar fashion with the heads removed. Why are they coming ashore to the beach to die? Or are they being killed and then left to drive ashore?
Our journey started again after a short rest at Grassy Patch. We walked the four and a half kilometre trail back to the horn house road to the parked truck. A truck seat never felt so good. It was a three hour walk but enjoyable.
A trip to the waterfront for a chat with the fishermen, as they go about their work of getting ready their crab pots and boat gear, makes another enjoyable morning for those of us who like this kind of friendship along the waterfront.
Our summer water birds have not been seen going up and down the shoreline of the harbour as yet, or at least I haven't seen them. Will we have any new comers this year? Let's wait and see. Every new bird or mammal that comes back is a plus.
Now that the snow is all gone, people are cleaning up their yards and getting ready for spring. Our town was very nice last year. The flowers in most everyone's yard added that touch that makes a home look nice. It also gives us a lift after a long winter. Let's get out again this spring, clean up around our property and make our town one of the best on the peninsula.
When walking the trail to Horse Brook, if you see something that you think needs to be improved, please talk to someone in council. There may be improvement programs on the go. You will not only have a say in your park but the town will know that you are interested in Fortune Outdoors.
Outdoors is my favourite topic. At this time of year there is a lot of activity out there. On my morning walks around town I saw, almost every morning, a crew of men gathered together doing something that for most towns are lost.
The Vicar of the Anglican Church was out in full force with a crew of his flock, renewing windows and putting on new siding to give the Church a new face lift and, of course, the well needed repairs .The part that was so noticeable was that, for most of the crew, they were mostly seniors but still spry enough to climb scaffolding to do an honest days' work for their Church.
I remember barn and house raisings when everyone came by to help out. I thought it had all vanished with the modern times but no- it still lives as far as the church is concerned and in Fortune it's most noticed when the need arises for one reason or another. The people who gave of their free time to take on this worth while project in very cold spring days should be commended for their work of free labour to their Church. I tip my hat to all of you who helped out.
Another community project that needs to be mentioned in this column is the great gathering of people who got out to the Salvation Army Gospel concert in aid of a long time member of the church, Mr. Ken Bungay, who at the time of this writing, is still in Hospital in St. Johns taking treatment for his illness. Mr. Bungay is a well respected member of the church and spent a life time at the plant where he worked with people from Grand Bank and Fortune for many years. By the turn out at the Gospel concert it was plain to see that people do come out to aid a friend in a time of illness. A special thanks to all who took part in the concert, you made a very enjoyable evening.
Do we have good teenagers? Of course we do! They are not all bad and you would only have to go to the Sea Cadet Review to find that out. I have been to a number of reviews now, but this year was the best one that I have seen. From the talks around the building and from the reports of the reviewing officer - he said it's the best that he has attended - our children of the town can't be all that bad can they? They start this in September and on through the winter, practice, practice to get it right; they are a very good bunch of kids, dedicated to what they are doing and proud.
Look at their training, their clothes, a neater looking bunch of kids you will find nowhere. All of this comes with a price, time on the drill floor, study, time away from other friends and the drill instructor who keeps pushing them on for that great day of the review to be the best they can. They really did show some class and they were rewarded for it in one way or another, a move up in rank, scholarships, camp, new friends and the list goes on.
But did you ever stop to think who makes all this possible? It just doesn't happen. There are five or six people who take their free time to teach those teenagers and to be responsible for them night after night; to make them into this well oiled machine that we see going around town strutting their stuff to the beat of the drums and the playing of the Glock-en-spiel; taking part in parades, showing off the colours with great pride. Those are our town's people that do this training and give those teenagers a different look at life. We should tip our hats to them for they really deserve to be recognized as great teachers. All of this training is done indoors but it should make us proud when we see it on display in Fortune outdoors.