Newfoundland 2005.6 – Vikings and Low Growing Trees

On our way to L’Anse aux Meadows
 Monday, July 25: L’Anse Aux Meadows Viking Settlement and the Burnt Cape Ecological Reserve

The L’Anse Aux Meadows Viking Settlement is more than 1000 years old. The original French name for the place, found on a French nautical chart from 1862, was L’Anse à la Médée (The Médée’s Cove). There may indeed have been a ship called La Médée, since it was not uncommon to use Greek mythology when naming them. See the above link for more about its franglais roots, and for more about the Settlement. It needs no further description. Here are some photos:

Busted!

I am inclined to cram a touring day really full of experiences. An ‘orrible vice, I know. I was attempting to turn a legal 45 minute drive from the Viking Settlement to the Burnt Cape Ecological Reserve into an illegal 33 minute trip (wasn’t sure when the guided tour hours were) and was stopped for speeding on the way.

The officer: “Do you, perchance, know why you were stopped?”

Me: “Yes, Officer.”

Officer: “And are you aware that your speed was more than 20 kph faster than the speed limit?”

Me: “Er… no, Officer, Sir.”

Officer: “Are you from away?”

Me: “Yes.” Big trouble coming, I thought.

Officer: “Don’t let me catch you speeding again.”

He handed me a written warning instead of a ticket and let us go. Again, the delightful mercy and grace of these island people surprised and overwhelmed me.

Burnt Cape:

Burnt Cape is a hugely important botanical reserve. It contains rare plants that are not found anywhere else. Trees over a hundred years old grow out rather than up (less than a foot up!) because of the biting winds. We were taken on a superb interpretive tour. Our guide also told us of a time when she had a group out to see the rock formations near The Oven and a polar bear appeared below them that had swum from Labrador. The visitors had no clue how dangerous it was and were snapping photos.

Sound familiar? Like anyone we know?

She was preparing to abandon them, if necessary, and run for her own life but managed to persuade them to make a hasty, sensible retreat. Some photos:

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Crocus

 

Crocus Cries, "Spring!"
Crocus

Crocus laconique, saillant

Montre nous, les hommes

Comment passer sans rancoeur

 

Reflecting on this photo this morning (now Tuesday, two days after I posted this photo on Sunday) I realized that the tiny plant that had made me think so carefully since then deserved a poem. I wrote it in French mainly because the French “sans” saved me a syllable and thereby satisfied the rigor of the Haiku, but discovered that I liked the sound, lucidity and subtlety of what I could say in French much better than what I had produced in English. After posting this photo on Sunday, I have reflected long upon the flower’s shockingly short life in bloom and realized that little brother Crocus was rewarding me for my attention by teaching me a surprising lesson. The lessons for me were several (cyclicity, fleetingness, acceptance, grace, opportunity, attention, action, brilliance…) but I will highlight this one:

The beauty of the crocus bloom is made more precious by its very fleetingness.

Still more learning: Writing a poem with strict parameters is a process of discovery in any language. One is forced to forage around for the right word and the searching often reveals better words that don’t quickly come to mind. Continue reading “Crocus”