Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Iceberg Hunting

I grew tired of warm milk and melting butter. This was not a problem in Labrador where the winter has never released the land completely but in Newfoundland I've found some warm (but overcast) weather. So I gathered some iceberg ice to put in my bag. At first I was going to put it in my cooler but then I remembered that I had left that cooler attached to my 1974 Vespa Ciao. So I triple-bagged the ice and had cold milk. It's more trouble than it is worth as the heat melts the ice in one day.

Wilfred Grenfell: A Victor on The Field of Honor

I had to make a pilgrimage to the Grenfell Properties here in St. Anthony because the work of Wilfred Grenfell back in 1898 to build a hospital on Battle Harbour and to serve the coast on a hospital ship and then to expand his clinics to other communities and to build a headquarters in St. Anthony all contributed to the clinic at Mary's Harbour which provided the care that has restored my eye to almost new. The main infection is gone but some blurryness continues to slow my journey. These ailments probably led to sight problems for fishermen until Grenfell came along.

"Life is a field of honor," he said.

Grenfell is the man seated on the right. I think the lesson here is that although he was limited by location and resources he still provided the best care that was possible at that time. He was also a social activist as he broke the savage Truck system of economy and taught self-sufficience and economy and fairness. I bought a piece of pecan pumpkin pie at the Grenfell Memorial Co-Op grocery that was delicious even if it was expired and on sale for half price.
T.B. and Beri Beri and Scurvy and a variety of diseases were his main enemies and these he bravely fought against in addition to the common ailments of infected eyes and broken limbs. He basically did what he was able to do and when he needed help he enlisted volunteers and raised funds. He didn't expect anything from his charges that he didn't expect from himself. By the look of it, his mere presence inspired greatness in others.

I want to tribute Moody, Watch and Spy because these were part of the dog team that led the way across the pack ice from St. Anthony when he went on an emergency call.

Lady Grenfell (Anne) is holding the black dog on the left. I don't know what the fourth dog's name is but Moody, Watch and Spy should go down in the dog hall of fame because not only did they venture out on many trips with the doctor, but they went out with him on an ill-advised trip and the pack ice broke apart mid way across the bay and they drifted into the bay and would surely have all died but Wilfred decided to sacrifice old Moody and Watch and Spy, killing them, and making a coat of their skins and a wall of their bones until he was spotted by a fisherman on the other coast and rescued along with the surviving dogs. Grenfell made up a huge bronze plaque to the memory of these three dogs so he didn't kill them lightly. Dog team dogs were treated well and their memory is preserved in the Grenfell House here in St. Anthony.

This lesson is hard to define because The Doctor was noble in his effort and risked his own life and the lives of his dogs for a sick patient. But it's the cause and the honor that Grenfell understood. He said, "When faced with two options, choose the most venturesome." So, he went onto the pack ice. The adventure later served to make him internationally famous and aided his fundraising efforts.

He also said,

"It is men who take ventures who make the world. It is courage the world needs...launch out into deep waters. Half measures, trimming the shore in shallow waters, never pays anything."

Here's a picture to demonstrate that bit of wisdom.

Canada owes much to Sir W.T. Grenfell and I owe him my right eye.

UnderSTAND it's NewfoundLAND

The correct pronounciantion of this province is NewfoundLAND. I'd been pronouncing it with the accent on the the NEW...because coming from New England it would sound very strange to say new engLAND. But that's the way it's said here. And only here did I realize that Labrador is pronounced laBRADOR...which means "Laborer" or "Lavrador" in Portugese.

The above is a Groundhog I met on the Schooner Trail in L'Anse Au Loup. This was the fellow who inspired me to speak up in his defense. His nobility should not be challenged. There was a folk festival at the cove of the wolf which involved a country themed dance (o.k. covers of CCR songs and one horrible cover of Comfortably Numb) and drinking of beer. It was here that my full assessment of my finances left me envying the grounhog for his simple living. The rationing has begun and I have learned what those extra holes are for toward the middle of my belt.

This is Point Amour Lighthouse where I tried to recreate the perfectly sepia toned quality of the 1904 era. The Holloways were a family of photographers who took all the iconic pics of Battle Harbour during this whole era. They were fine photographers and had an exhibit at the lighthouse.

This harp seal gave me some good footage that is on the video camera. It was a lonely looking seal out there on the ice. It only appeared after the berg it was on split in two and it had to find a smaller bit to float on. I think it chose poorly because it struggled non-stop to stay on that piece of ice when many other options were nearby. It also acted like its left flipper was injured. It's a hard world for harp seals.

Here is my film production crew hard at work waiting for a berg to split in half. It's even more difficult than spotting whales because the event will happen in five seconds only every few hours. Unpredictable and violent, the berg will break at some critical spot and then the density division will change and the berg will flip sideways causing other parts to break with a deafening roar. And you have two seconds to get the camera rolling to catch it. It's as hard to see one with your own eyes let alone have your camera rolling as it happens unless you sit there with five batteries and roll the camera all day long. Then you will be guaranteed to capture the moment of collapse and floundering.

Example: This perfect enclosed swimming pool iceberg was waiting near St. Anthony's fisherman's point and I watched it for hours as I hiked up and down a hill and around a point and had lunch and said, "IT's something else, ain't it?" to other gape-mouthed tourists from Texas and Vancouver who urged their teenage kids from the RV and into the wild. Then, after hours of watching this berg, I was picking my way around the beach and happened to go out of sight for maybe 8 seconds and within three seconds I heard two huge explosions. So I started to run and by the 7th second I had my camera out and was taking video as the berg was floundering. It pained me that I had missed the crucial event by seconds after being almost close enough to touch it. So I spent the rest of the day and the rest of the next day waiting for a repeat only to be taunted and teased like a rich old man at a Mexican stripjoint. I could not and did not capture anything close to this. Note how different the before and after pictures are. One was an enclosed swimming pool and the after is a shapeless hump. These two icebergs are the same one. There is a lesson here about patience and resignation but I won't go into that.

This polar bear in the St. Anthony municipal building (Where Oggy has gone for internet usage and to wash his hands of seaweed) stands head and shoulders above Oggy.

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Man in the Van by Oggy Bleacher is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.