By Olivia Robinson
The succinct answer is a resounding YES. Newfoundland and Fogo certainly live up to the hype. But of course, three letters does not constitute an article. So I’ll tell you about today, August 13th, 2015.
I had a close encounter with a humpback whale. He breached alongside our punt on the way back from Little Fogo Islands and I saw his blowhole, his small dorsal fin, his large black marble tail. If I had reached out, I could have touched his tail before he disappeared into the depths of the sea.
I was in shock at his size, his proximity to our little boat, the realization that if he had breached a few feet closer, we would have been on his back, tossed into the ocean. He knew we were there long before we knew about him. It’s his ocean, after all. He was just reminding us of that.
When I told my good friend Amy, whose nickname is Orca, about this close encounter with the humpback, she called him the “god whale.” Until I talked to her, I hadn’t really thought about just how close I had come to ending up in the frigid waters of the Atlantic. That whale saved you, she said. You’re so lucky.
And I am lucky, not just to have made it back to shore with dry clothes, but to be here in Newfoundland. I already feel at home here, in a way I didn’t feel on PEI. I don’t know how to define it yet. Maybe it has something to do with the fog, how it makes everything moody when it floats in over the hills and rocks and makes the world soft around the edges, like a faded Polaroid.
Perhaps it’s the people, their willingness to help you in any way they can and how they always have time for a cup of tea. Maybe it has something to do with the first time I saw the view of the city and the Narrows from The Rooms, the play of light on the houses in the Battery, the realization that I would never be able to see that view for the first time again.
Perhaps Newfoundland started to feel like home when I walked up Signal Hill on Canada Day at four a.m. and heard someone practicing electric guitar in one of the downtown row houses, the sound floating down from a third storey window.
It could be all of those things combined, or it could be none of them. It’s different for everyone. But for me, it has something to do with the ocean. Like how today, out on the boat, when we got far enough out on the water and the land disappeared, I felt so small and free. There is no better feeling in the world than when the land disappears, Amy said. The whale today reminded me of that. I was searching for a place by the ocean to be creative. Newfoundland is that place.
Awesome, Olivia. We all find our spaces in places we don’t expect. Sometimes it’s the fog, or a guitar, a fortification, a smell on the wind, or a whale. But we all find a place. And a space. Sometimes more than one. Hugs, Lee Ellen, the daughter of a girl from Pushthrough, NL.