We arrived in Twillingate, Nfld., in July 1999, on a glorious summer day. We wanted to see icebergs.
As we drove through town we came across an elderly man working on his fishing boat. My wife jumped out of the car and asked him if he knew anyone who could take us out to the icebergs.
“I’ll be right back,” he said. A few moments later, a man arrived at the little fishing dock. “Let’s go,” he said.
Before thinking, and before any actual conversation, we were off in his aluminum boat, bouncing over waves toward the icebergs, salt water occasionally splashing upon our faces.
And there it was, an enormous iceberg gleaming in the morning sun. A whale surfaced; gulls screeched and wheeled in the sky. On our way back he caught a few fish and filleted them right on the boat. He said that was for our campfire feast that night.
“What do I owe you?” I asked. “How’s about 40 bucks,” he replied. “No way,” I said, “Forty would barely cover your fuel!” I handed him $80.
We bought butter, garlic and some local screech and made our way to the campsite at Dildo Run Provincial Park. We feasted and we shared with our fellow campers in the true spirit of Newfoundland hospitality.
At about 9 p.m. we heard a truck horn. Our guide and his wife jumped out and walked up to the campsite. His wife pulled out a bottle of screech and placed it on the table. “There’s no way two young folk like yourselves should pay my husband that kind of money for screwing around on the water all day,” she said.
We laughed, we ate, we drank; by 1 a.m. I couldn’t understand a bloody word they were saying.
Now, 13 years later, as I reflect back on that day, on that brief moment in time, it reminds me what it is to be Canadian. We didn’t just explore the natural Newfoundland wonders that day; we caught a brief glimpse of what it is like to live, love and laugh on the Rock. It may be half an earth away, but it felt so close to home.