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Friday, 31 March 2017

The polar bear alarm

Pictures out of Newfoundland this time of year remind me of a conversation I had with an elderly gentleman on the Northern Peninsula of Newfoundland about fifteen years ago. He was an interesting man, salt of the earth, friendly and eager to talk to anyone who stopped near his home. I think of him every time I see pictures of polar bears in Newfoundland.


 

Photo by Ocean View Photography, Newfoundland                    Wesleyville


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. A rash of break-ins in the area recently meant more people installed alarm systems in their homes and cars. Periodically we woke 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 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 at the far northern tip of our beautiful island, in a place where it looked like a nor'easter could sweep away the little house and shed not twenty feet from the water. You could see the coast of Labrador in the distance.


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?" 


"Alright. 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 an' 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. Cudna '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 wen a polar bear is 'round. Kicks up some racket she do when deres a bear comes ashore in da spring. Wen 'e gits dat toime o' year and da goat is goin' 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.

                                                               ________________


Would a goat be a good alarm for thieves, I wonder? And the milk would be a bonus!


Note: Polar bears are not usually residents of Newfoundland. In the spring, they float south on the ice flows from Labrador and swim to the island. 

33 comments:

  1. I love your dialog, Marie! You done it good! And I am glad to hear that polar bears are not a big problem there. Thank you for the delightful post. :-)

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    1. The dialogue was hard to write, Jan, but I wanted it to be accurate.

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  2. Good story! I saw that photo of the religious polar bear all over the internet yesterday -- apparently it's going viral.

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    1. What a great photo. A once in a lifetimw shot for sure, Debra.

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  3. Great capture of the dialect.

    That picture went viral. I have already read about it on blogs today. But it didn't have your dialect and anecdote.

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    1. I thought of the man and the goat when I saw that photo, AC.

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  4. Love the dialect and how fun/interesting about the goat!
    I hope you have an enjoyable weekend.

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    1. Who knew goats were such great alarms, Mildred?

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  5. such a cute story "ya don well"!!!

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    1. Newfoundlanders would say, ya done good, Debbie.

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  6. I remember a young polar bear getting stuck of the rocks at Quidi Vidi a few years ago.... had to be rescued!

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    1. Sad those animals make it so far south out of their element, Shammickite.

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  7. You leave me speechless today,.

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  8. Wonderful story.
    And how I would love to see a polar bear in the wild. A bucket list item (which will probably stay in the bucket).

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    1. I would love to see one too, EC, but not in the neighbourhood like some Newfoundlanders do this time of year.

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  9. You have an amazing ear for dialect and an amazing ability to put it to pen and paper. Wonder the life story of those who live so far from anywhere. What made them go there, stay there and how accepting are they of that life?

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    1. This area of Newfoundland was prosperous before the moratorium on cod. With the moratorium, many people left the area. Of those who stayed, many owned their homes and managed a way of life they had known for generations.

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  10. Oh you made me laugh Marie, it was so fun reading this story with the accent 😀 what a lovely old chap coming out to have a bit of a yarn ☺

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  11. What a fun post! Are you thinking about getting a goat alarm?

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    1. The neighbours might not like like it if we bought a goat.

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  12. What a lovely story :) Love every word...
    Warm hug from Titti

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    1. Thank you, Titti. Thank you for visiting. I enjoy your blog too.

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  13. Oh goodness, you did the old-timer's dialogue quite well Marie. Imagine knowing there was a polar bear nearby from your goat fussing - we know when a hawk is near our yard from the racket of the jays and other birds that sound an alarm.

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    1. I've seen the animals respond to hawks as well. It is incredible to see, isn't it Judith. A new job for goats I think!

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  14. That was fun to read. You did his words so well, they sounded great.

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  15. It was so hard to write but fun too, SW.

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  16. HAHAHA! What a great story, Marie (and your writing of his speech/dialect is perfect!). You gave me a good chuckle this morning. :)

    [BTW, Astrid and I are finishing up an 11-day vacation in Italy, the first 7 days in Venice and the last 4 here in Verona. That's why you haven't heard from me lately. We fly home tomorrow, after which I plan to get settled back into my "routine." You know me.]

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  17. I look forward to your post with beautiful photos, Ginnie. I expect weathervanes, too.

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  18. No wonder you remember him. I love the goat part of the story.

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