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Fortune Outdoors

Written by William Butt, reproduced from the Fortune Teller

February 2009:

     Why wait for spring do it now. That’s what the fall was like, and it seemed as if our winter would never come this year. We all got sort of a surprise but then again we knew we would have some very cold days ahead, just as it has been many years in the past.
     Our pre winter days were a blessing; great days in the country doing a bit of work around the cottages and getting the last bit of dry wood sawed up and put into storage for days like now when winter is really here.
     There were some nice warm days for walking and a lot of outdoor people took advantage of it, to get that extra bit of fresh air, and a nice walk that gives one time to think of how much more of this good weather can we expect.
     It was so nice I just had to make an effort to go for a short walk up over the trail, with the help of a bearing stick so as not to fall. The walk got the better of me and I had to return very slowly back to from whence I came; which brings me to my next surprise that I truly didn’t know was happening here in Fortune. For a little breather I noticed the Arena was open and a few cars around so I went inside. Boy was I ever surprised to see little girls from around twelve years old and down to six or seven going through their practice session with their coaches looking on. Those children were doing things that I only saw on TV, not knowing that we had children here in our town that could do some of them fancy moves with great precision. I was amazed. I stood against the glass and watched for twenty minutes or more. They were great, doing things that I don’t even know the names for; like swing off on one leg and twirling downwards on one skate and coming back up again and without stopping bending over at a 90-degree angle with one leg straight out. I was blown away. My God, I thought, how much time does this take for children get to this stage, and how much work do the coaches put into this sort of thing. They should be commended for their efforts to bring it this far. Of course I never got to see the good stuff as there where bigger children waiting in the wings. They must be really good at it and we should support it more - we have good talent here in town.
     I went home very satisfied with my walk, even though it was short, but the stopover at the Arena was well worth it.
     Then the storms came, nothing much but it seemed like our winter was going to be a doozey and a lot of indoor time for us old fogies who love to get out and about on our winter toys for outdoor cook ups.
     Some of the outdoor boys, younger ones I mean, took over the interest of the winter trails to go in and make repairs to the bridges over the gutters, and to mark the trails with high poles with markings to show the way for those who are not country wise; and to help children find the way home in case a storm should come up unexpected or a breakdown in machinery and darkness overtakes them. The poles will show the way home. At this time I want to thank the boys who took the time on their outings to help out those who are not so wise to the country in and around Fortune outdoors…

March 2009:

     As winter winds its way towards spring we notice that the sun has taken on a little power when conditions are right. As an outdoor traveler when the weather is good I noticed that this year I haven’t seen any winter robins have you? Could this mean that we are going to have a long drawn-out winter and that spring will be late in coming this year? A lot of little streams are open even though we have had some frosty weather.
     I have talked to a number of trout fisherman, very small catches, and a lot like me with no catch at all. The trout that have been taken out of the ponds are thin but along the sea shore ponds that empty directly to the sea trout look fat and in real good shape. The food that comes in with the rising and falling of the tides keep the trout in good shape. Maybe the food supply in our ponds was not replenished this past fall for some reason.
     On our outdoor trips in over the country after a snow fall I also noticed that rabbit tracks were not as plentiful as other years, but the coyotes have increased. I guess that part of the food chain will have to increase to help feed the coyotes; their numbers seem to have grown, their tracks are all over the country but the animal is rarely seen.
     The quad has been the machine of outdoor travel in this area this winter; not enough of the powder snow to make for an enjoyable day or week end for the skidoo rider; but we still have lots of winter left yet. With the condition of the country the way it has been so far this year, bikers can travel to places that are forbidden in the summer. My outdoor buddies and I have made quite a few trips in over the country just for the pleasure of enjoying the great outdoors; trips over the peninsula and to make the loop up over the water side winter trail to visit the ponds there – like Long Pond, Mark Tree Pond, Gull Pond; cross the highway to get to Snook’s Pond and all the other favorite fishing holes on that side of the country. Just an outdoorsman’s dream; backed into some sheltered woods for a cook up makes his day complete.
     There is some talk around town of the harbor being filled up with silt and the water depth in the gut is creating some problems for boats coming in and out of the harbor. Maybe this is why fish is being trucked into the fish plant here and the draggers can’t land their catch. If that is the case maybe there should be some input into getting the harbor dredged out as it was done in other years. Now that we have the plant operating we don’t want to lose it again. It’s our biggest employer and God knows we need to keep the people working. Taxes need to be paid in order to keep up the maintenance to our town.
     The computer world has caught up with the young and old alike. The great difference is, some of us were late in life before we got to use the computer properly. Most of us can do a lot of things to keep us occupied on days when it’s not fit for anything else and (like the children) we find the internet educational when we take the time to look. But here is the problem: most of us seniors need some one or something to make life a little easier for us. So what did we do? We applied for a program to get help with this new way of life for seniors – and we got it! We have someone willing to take us on and do the best that she can to teach some old dogs a few new tricks. It’s a computer program for seniors. Who is eligible? Seniors are. You will hear more about it in the Fortune Teller. Things are looking up in and around Fortune outdoors…

April 2009:

     The winter is well on its way to being over; the snow that we had is all gone; we are waiting for the Sun to cross the line; we know then that spring is behind that line. Also the time change gives us a bit of extra evening light makes us feel good.
     We have many things to be thankful for. Not too much snow to shovel this winter, the skidoo riders had to leave town to get in a bit of skidooing; that’s not good, but I guess if you don’t get the snow you go where the snow is. Not everyone is pleased with the winter weather on the south coast – I just loved it!
     The robins are here at last, although I haven’t seen them. One of my column readers tells me they have visited his farm on many occasions to feed on the seeds and worms under the cow paddies. How do they know? Maybe we should take more notice and learn how they survive.
     Our town was struck with bad news this past couple of weeks, the tragic loss of two of our young men on the Helicopter crash on the off shore. Our town is in mourning with the loss of those two young men; young widows and children are left; our hearts grieve for them. This is a sad time for all the families that are connected to the crash of the helicopter. Young men and women in the oil business that have to go off shore take their life in their hands every time they travel, trying to earn a living from the sea for their families. Our prayers are with the families, only they know the real loss of this tragedy.
     Every member of the town was in shock with the news because, in small towns, everyone knows everyone else and that affects us all. May God have Mercy on the souls of the departed.
     Wade was a friend of mine, an outdoors man if there was one. He loved the outdoors. We met many times over a cup of tea in cabins on the trail, on bikes, and skidoo. Wade was a free-hearted man. My very last conversation with him was about skidooing and I made the comment that he wouldn’t be getting much skidooing in with so little snow. ‘I’ll get it somewhere,’ he said. ‘If you want to go for a ride, the machine is up in the shed full of gas. If you get the snow take it and go for a ride enjoy the day.’ That was a genuine offer. I thanked him and told him I wasn’t fond of skidoos and thanks for the offer. I think that may have been the last time they slept in the cabin at Nor West. That was the last time we spoke.
     I don’t recall meeting Burch Nash but he may have been here with the boys during school days; they were in class together. He was a fine young man and made his family and town proud.
     This tragedy will stick with this town for many years to come.
     The computer course for seniors is off to a good start, with a good turn out; hope all those who are taking part will get some good out of it; and thanks to Fay, our teacher, for her patience in trying to teach us old fogies who still want to learn and contribute to the town in one way or another.
     I have been on a winter clean up of plastic bags that are found hanging in the trees and shrubs. It makes an ugly sight. As spring comes out comes the rakes. Yards that look run down now will take on a new look in and around Fortune outdoors…

May 2009:

     Another spectacular show of dedication of pupils and coaches to put off at the end of the season ice show at the Arena in Fortune.
     Hattie and I attended. It was well worth the afternoon out to the Arena to view the talent of the children from Grand Bank and Fortune. Of course the guest skaters from Clarenville & Marystown showed their skills as well. We were impressed with the show, I don’t think we had a full house but if you were not there, you missed a great afternoon of entertainment. Miss Stuckey showed just what she could do, and let me say right here, “she was something else.” As good as it gets for local talent; I know a great future in ice skating shows is hers, if she goes to that field in her career.
     Outdoor time is very important to the bird watchers this time of the year. We have been watching the sparrows cleaning out their houses in the trees in our yard. We also watched them close up the house last fall, to see them put the final touches the opening of the house was something you had to witness to believe. They carried in all kinds of string and straw to fill the cavity of the house, then the final thing that blew us away was a piece of cardboard that somehow they got it in the doorway, it was there all winter. This morning as I was watching they came back and removed it and took out part of the straw and plastic strings, dropped it on the ground, and then proceeded to put in new twigs and straw. Were they the same pair as last year? I’ll never know, but I can’t see them house cleaning for some other pair.
     We have some snow crocus flowers out in bloom; we have never planted any so our friends the birds have brought them or the seeds have blown on the wind. We will take them any way that they came, as long as they bring beauty to our garden. I walked around my maple trees and gooseberry trees today; the buds are waxing, soon there will be young leaves sprouting out everywhere.
     Early last week I visited the horn house area and got off my bike to look out over the sea at the boats that were going by. I thought what a beautiful RV park this would make. Surely we could do with another park for trailers; it could be an extension to the horse brook park. I don’t think it would cost all that much money to level it off, put in some large boulders over the old dump and back fill that eyesore it certainly could make the horn house site more attractive.
     The power is already up there; what better place could a camper ask for than a place to camp, looking out over the ocean; a breeze from the salt water on a hot summers night; the potential is there, but can we capitalized on it? Of course we can. Everyone is crying for a place to visit; the fossils are of no value if no one can see them and take photographs of them. We don’t have too much to offer tourist, let’s try to make something that people will want to come and see in and around Fortune Outdoors…

June 2009:

     This got to be a first for a long time; not too often would we get weather on the twenty forth of May weekend like the one we had this year, and all over the island.
     Parks enjoyed a bumper crop of campers, and the look on the kids faces on TV told it all. It was their weekend in the sun with nice temperatures. It’s really what kicks off summer, that first good week end out in the parks.
     I had an e-mail from one of my readers that took a walk up the horse brook nature trail. What he saw was an absolute disgrace. For someone to do such a thing to a very nice nature trail, the only one we have where you can take your children on most days for a walk because the trail is mostly wooded and sheltered to enjoy this outing is a blessing in itself.
     I was so disturbed with the report he gave me I just had to get up enough courage to make my feet work for a look see at what he had reported. As I struggled up the trail with my walking stick I was thinking out loud my God it can’t be like he reported to me. Are there people out there that really don’t care for anyone but themselves?
     As I got closer to the place I saw it, a black spot in the middle of trail where a fire had been lit while they sat and drank their beer on the luxury of resting benches that was put there for not only seniors but for anyone who felt a little tired or just to enjoy a pleasant moment by the brook to listen to the running water that held a few trout for the observer if they cared to look.
     On top of all that they kicked the remains of the fire over in the brook, leaving a charred mess all over the front of the bank. Further, to top it off, all of their beer bottles were thrown and broke out on the beach and into the brook, not thinking of little children who may wander out in the brook on a hot day. With all that glass all over the brook it can be and is very dangerous to children who like to play in and near the water.
     Who ever did this, “please be a good citizen.” Think of the children who may be injured while playing in the brook, & make time to clean up your mess before they are injured. You may have children of your own, if not now, maybe down the trail of life. Would you want them to be injured just for a careless weekend in & around Fortune outdoors…


July 2009:

     Summer - four of us from the Grandfathers club decided to go and look for it, and by golly we found it! We gathered up our riding gear and things to take along on our trip across the island on the train track bed. It was Sunday the 14th of June 2009. From that date on we had all the sun and hot days that one could ask for.
     We started off at Fortune with a load that would make the not-so-happy camper look twice, and to ask themselves where are they going with a summer like this? But it all changed after we got out of town. That is the weather for us.
     We arrived at Goobies, unloaded the equipment, and were off to 10 days of relaxing: riding, fishing, and sleeping in the great outdoors in tents. We never got far before the trout poles were out and two of the boys went fishing for our breakfast the next morning. There is nothing better than to have fresh trout on your morning plate with punky bread and partridgeberry jam; this is Newfoundland at its finest.
     We visited towns along the way, bought a few things that we forgot in the packing, even though we had made a list of things to take; I think most of it was just a break to go shopping.
     Wildlife was not a big thing for us this year. There will be tons of rabbits again this year; they were darting across the trail every few minutes. I saw only two caribou and a black fox. The other riders saw moose and caribou and of course lots of water birds with young. up in the high country I saw a pair of geese with the 6 young bringing up the rear crossing a marsh; the mother and father were very reluctant to let me get too close but I did get a nice close up.
     We went to our friends’ cabin for one night, waiting for the river to run off but it never happened. The chance of being washed away in the tide was a deterrent for us old campers. We have been there and done that and we want to go back again, not to be on a grave marker like others along the same river.
     We had real hot weather for eight of our 10-day trip. The dust along the trail made us look like live fudge sticks at times, but it was out doors so we expected that. I can truthfully say we had a great vacation on the tracks again this year; the visits with old friends along the way, new places to visit. The last ride towards home was a wet one but the rain gear took care of that.
     My yard and flowers are taking on the look of summer. I was surprised to see the great change in just two weeks with the flowering trees that will soon bloom and show their beauty. They will make life good again in Fortune Outdoors…

October 2009:

     Summer is on the down slide, not only are shorter days beginning to show, other activities are slowing down as well; but other things takes the place of trips on the quad, like berry picking time, but with the use of the quad comes the torment of looking over your shoulder to see if the police are on your tail.
     Some riders have picked up some hefty fines by using the horn house road to go to and from the cabins at Grassy Patch. A meeting was called with the police to voice our concerns, he just confirmed what we already knew; someone had made a complaint about the bikes using the road. This practice was used since the coming of the bikes to this area, can’t say that the police didn’t know that we were using this trail to get to the cabins and the shoreline on the western pier or the lighthouse for a visit or to go to the hills berry picking or just a leisure ride.
     All of this prompted us to form an ATV Multi-trail Association. 38 riders attended the meeting when we formed the association. Jake Thornhill chaired the meeting and was elected president of the association; Earl Rose, Vice President; Jerry Wells, Treasurer; Angus Stacey, Secretary; Directors: Murdock Hiscock, Sam Cumby, and yours truly. With the forming of the association as an organized registered group we will be able to do things and get things that wouldn’t be possible as a lone rider.
     Just to let the public know that we are planning a multi trail that could be used by ATVERS, walkers, hikers, snowmobile in season and maybe even a bit of cross country skiing. As a group more things can be done. That is all I can say about this association at this time, as we are in the process of setting it up. There will be more as time goes by.
     I was down to count the ducks; there was really a decline in the population this summer. I was told that a duck with 11 young ones was seen coming down the waterway and returned with only three. Gulls ate the rest and the next morning they finished up the other three, nature has a strange way of survival of the strongest.
     There is no problem to see the berry pickers out on the sides of the hills picking blue berries and raspberries. I have started to pick some but having a rough time with my trying to stay upright, but I will get it done one way or another. There is a real good sign of partridge berries this year or at least where I was they were in good numbers and another two weeks should be good for picking, the worms will have all gone by then. Most people don’t like wormy jam on their morning toast, whether it be in Fortune or in and around Fortune outdoors.

Fortune Teller

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