It woke the neighbourhood. Somewhere nearby a car sent its repetitive horn blasts into the quiet of the night, alarming everyone for several streets around it. A rash of break-ins in the area recently meant more people installed alarm systems in their homes and cars. Periodically we awoke in the early morning hours when a wireless alarm sounded.
There was a time when an alarm was less high tech. I learned of such a system when my mother, mother-in-law and I visited L'Anse aux Meadows on the tip of the Great Northern Peninsula in Newfoundland. It was the summer tourist season; we visited the former Viking settlement, drove around the area, stopping where the road led to a small turn-about near the ocean. We were as far north as we could get on our beautiful island, in a place where it looked like a nor'easter could sweep away a little house and shed not twenty feet from the water. You could see the coast of Labrador in the distance.
Mary Pretty and Sylvia Smith
at L'Anse aux Meadows
As we walked around, a friendly, elderly gentleman came out of the house and approached us. He asked, " 'ow ar ya taday?"
"We're fine. How are you?" I replied.
"Alright, Mrs. Can't complain too much, ya knows. Nobody wants ta hear it anyways," he said.
"It must get really bad here in the winter, when that wind blows onshore. Have you ever had any damage?" I asked.
"Yees, moy dear. Me and da Mrs. 'ad ta leave a few toimes when da seas were warshin' o're da 'ouse. 'Ad ta use da boat one toime cos everyting were awarsh. Got da goat out o' da shed just afore 'e warshed away," he added.
"Oh my. I'm glad you got out and saved the goat too. I hope that doesn't happen very often," I said.
"Few toimes o're da years. 'Ad ta sove da goat, Mrs. Cuddna ford anudder one," he said.
"Do you use the goat for milk?" I asked.
"Yees, Mrs. Not only dat. She's a good 'larm too, moy dear. Lits us know when a polar bear is 'round. Kicks up some racket she do wen deres a bear comes ashore in da spring. Wen 'e gits dat toime o' year and da goat is going nuts, we knows wats 'bout. She'll woke us from a deep sleep, moy dear. Goats ar' great fer warnin' 'bout da bears, Mrs," he said.
I wonder if a goat in our shed would be a good alarm for thieves?