The lady that passes me has the soft round small featured face that tells of her Irish heritage. She has light freckles on her cheeks and as she nears she smells like the cinnamon and vanilla of the downtown shop. A scent of rose perfume lingers as she passes.
By the harbour, the fishing boats are tied up. Short gentlemen with red cheeks share a joke as they busy themselves with metal and rope that appears abstract and featureless but their care for it suggests importance. The shops behind are playing Dick Nolan which drifts on the wind like time. The sounds growing faint as they are stolen by the breeze. A shop that has sculptures, painting and crafts has the doors wide open and the smell of a kiln is in the air. A group of young people sits with their legs folded and exchange sketchbooks of drawings. The art has themes of the ocean, sails, love and lust.
A man in a black suit with a conference badge hanging on a string drops a looney into the open guitar case of a tired looking gentleman who is channeling Johnny Cash through his guitar strings. An older couple wearing Old Navy shirts are asking a guy in front of the coffee shop when they can expect to see icebergs. The conversation shifts to capelin and he tells how the silvery fish will soon begin their annual ritual along these rocky shores. He tells of standing in the ocean having your ankles messaged by thousands of silvery bellies as the ocean tides turn into a living wave for a brief moment before tossing its cargo onto the shores to die. The elderly couple smiles discreetly wondering if the man might be having a bit of fun at their expense.
A shop full of books tells of this place; of history, politics, love and war, art and nature, the Beothuck and Innuit. “The Woman who Mapped Labrador”, “Newfoundland at the Crossroads”, “The Way of the Sea”, “The Labradorians”, “This Marvellous Terrible Place”. The door is held open by smiling faces for tourists who often appear uncomfortable with the instant familiarity. Seasoned visitors return the smile and talk openly and freely about the weather, politics, the war. There is an inherent safety in being open in these parts. An unguarded familiarity among strangers that is at first uncomfortable but then embraced.
Returning from lunch past small corner pubs that smell of lobster and scallops. A green envelope in my hand on which is scribbled “Why I love this place?” It is rhetorical.