Aug 30, 2008
|Another name for Newfoundland - and a National Park - Saturday, August 30
The French, who just have to be different about everything, call Newfoundland, Terre Neuve - and so it goes. The Newfoundlanders had this big, scenic area they’d set aside for a national park and it needed a name. Gros Morne was already taken, another concession to the French, so they decided to name this one in the same spirit but put their own spin on it.
So Terra Nova it is - and whatever you call it, it’s another stunner. Not as immediately spectacular as Gros Morne, but more subtle in it’s beauty - like Acadia National Park in the states. You come around a bend in the road and there is a waterway so still that every bird and leaf is reflected on it’s surface. In the distance mist creeps up a valley, and behind it a brooding mountain stands darkly against the sky.
No colors of fall yet except for the Newfoundlanders themselves, who are out in force this last weekend of summer. They are certainly colorful, in a way that manages to be happily boisterous, while at the same time remaining stolidly conservative. No easy trick, and Americans could never pull it off.
There’s an inner calm to these people, a quiet dignity that has it’s foundation in an independent spirit, but finds it’s expression in music, wit and a lively sense of humor. Newfoundlanders see the world through practical eyes, and they respond to it matter of factly and without the drama Americans are used to. They are keenly observant, and whether it’s the politics of their country or ours they look past the façade to the corruption behind it. Their response is apt to be understated, but the values and convictions are deeply held, nonetheless.
And that brings me, for no particular reason, to the moose. Those huge creatures that manage to be highly elusive when you are out there looking for them and hoping to see one without hitting it. So far the only moose we’ve seen are the black ones painted on those yellow signs warning motorists to look out for the moose! The bigger brown ones have stayed pretty well hidden, except for a couple of sightings so far in the distance we could barely tell what they were.
If you want to see a Newfoundlander disconcerted (something that’s not easy to do) suggest, as I have, that the moose is a figment of their imaginations, or that it is a trick they play on gullible tourists for a laugh. If they think you truly believe that it drives them crazy. They begin to quote statistics on how many moose have been hit and killed this year, and they tell you how they saw three last night right in their own backyard. They make it a personal mission to convince you that moose on the highway are a clear and present danger, and that you’d better not let down your guard.
To the suggestion that it’s a trick they play on the tourists they get this funny look on their faces that says, “No - the moose are real enough - but you know it might be fun to do that with - say, cougars!” Then they come back to earth and look guilty for thinking such a thing, and they redouble their efforts to convince you that they do indeed have moose - all over the place. They finally suggest that the reason you haven't seen any is because you are not out driving at dusk, when the moose come out to play. They tell you earnestly that it is probably better that way, and when you walk away they stare at your back still shaking their heads and wondering it you are completely ‘daft’ or could you have been joking? Anyway it’s lots of fun, and it gives them a reason to stay current on their statistics.
We found a nice campsite at Terra Nova’s biggest campground, and we unexpectedly scored a site with electric hookup on a weekend when they are full and are supposed to have none. We participated in a nice ‘thank you campers’ hamburger barbeque they put on, and we settled in to the cheerful sound of children chattering away like chipmunks, and riding their bikes past us in lively little groups. If I make it sound good - it’s because it is!