Ah, Grandma’s house. A place where kisses were mandatory, tea was properly steeped, and the freezer was always stocked with frozen treats. Since our TV at home only had one station if you balanced the bunny ears properly (I’m not complaining – I grew up outside!), my brother and I would stay in the adult room for the obligatory visiting time before asking for a Popsicle and scuttling away for the best kids shows the 90’s had to offer.
After my Grandfather died, I started spending more of those Sundays in the living room. I listened to more stories. I learned more about the people my grandparents were and the lives they lived. I got exposed to (and, more importantly, picked up on) more of my father’s humor which, as become clear on these Sundays in the living room, came from my Grandmother. She’d always come up with the oddest things to say but then I moved to Newfoundland and, Mary’s baby Jesus in the garden, do I ever get it now, sure.
My Grandmother grew up in Grand Falls, Newfoundland, but she and her family always considered Harbor Grace to be home even after having moved to Grand Falls to find work. She would talk of both places like they were pure heaven; Like it physically pained her to be away.
I moved to St. John’s, Newfoundland, having never stepped foot there before, by myself in 2012 and immediately felt like I was home. For lack of a better (or more honest) word, I’m restless, so after three years I wanted/needed a change, packed up my things, and said a tearful goodbye.
But I never really left. I keep coming back for a weekend to a month at a time, multiple times a year. I try to book flights out of St. John’s so I have an excuse to go visit, and I’m always secretly adding to my formulating plot to move back.
Newfoundland is a place where locals will look you right in the eye and tell you about the fairies who live in the forest.
It’s the place where as soon as the spring sun comes out, everyone is outside warming their faces, wearing shorts, and pretending it’s not only +3.
It’s the place where you go for a drive, ask for directions, and end up being invited in for supper and a bit of “who’s your fadder?”.
It’s the place where the culture and history of the place not only resonates with the older generation, but courses through the younger residents as well. It’s where people are friendly and helpful with a sense of humor but they are also damn proud of who they are and where they come from.
Newfoundland, to me, is the blaze I saw in my Grandmother’s eye when she talked about home… now living in me.
Even on a week long trip to Gros Morne to hike mountains, sail on the water through fjords, and watch the sunset on the beach, I thought of her. I wondered what she would say if she could see the places I’ve been, hear the things I’ve learned, and watch the little girl who dripped Popsicles on her worn leather recliner, visit her childhood home and dig into the history of her family.
I wonder what she would think about me being “arse over teakettle” in love with the place.
She never talked about specific places or memories with me very much but she exuded a sense of peacefulness and love when she spoke of home. It’s that feeling of affection, mixed with a deep curiosity and a desire to continue to get to know her, that acts as my guide to Newfoundland.
EXTRA TIPS FROM MY GRANDMOTHER
Never call a Newfoundlander a Newfie
Never call Newfoundland “The Rock”
If you’re not going to make the tea properly, it’s best not to have tea at all
Don’t eat snow