I can’t believe we are into 2016, and a month of it already over. I mean, wasn’t it just yesterday we were all wondering if the year 2000 would roll over and the world would plunge into a computer-generated darkness? Sadly, the older we all get the years pass far too quickly. Us old folk sit and talk about the past like it was yesterday until the voice of reason erupts, usually in the form of Jack’s voice: “Good God Lorraine, what are you getting on with? That was 35 – 40 years ago!” But seems like yesterday. It all seems like yesterday.
And it was yesterday. Jack walked me along the beach at North West River, we talked about his dream to run an outfitting camp. Next thing I remember we were getting aboard my first ever float plane, it was Howard Mercer’s. He had great shoes, they were shiny and slick compared to my bush boots Jack made this city girl wear. We flew into Anne Marie, stars in my eyes, not sure what was in my head. I remember being so, so airsick, announcing that if I was to be a woman of Labrador we were only going to do 2 bush flights: one IN and one OUT! I did hold to my rule for many years until I conquered my airsickness.
So one flight later I found myself cooking rather large turkeys on a small wood stove and cursing a wood heat coiled water system and water reservoir that would run out of water mid shower. I recall hauling water from the Anne Marie dock when I couldn’t handle the water pump, two little kids in tow, and raising my two children and oft times nieces in the most backwoods part of the world ever; talk about adventure! Bears, wolves, forest fires, spectacular night shows of aurora borealis, learning to live with stoneflies, mayflies, August bugs, mice and bats that would just freak the kids out! Okay, being honest, they freaked me out too.
One flight a week and entertainment only on the HF radio party line heard all over Labrador. I can still hear the “that’s a Roger — over!” part of our day, and all night white-noise soap opera playing out from every fishing lodge in Labrador. You got to know the characters, the family lives in all corners of the country – just part of the life and the lure. I was living a back-woods dream. The original pioneer woman. At least that’s what it felt like.
I may have felt as a young woman bringing children up my that way was, perhaps, doing them a disservice by having them in a remote location, away from other children and town life. Would they be well adjusted with no peers for playdate? Not that there was an option to do otherwise, but you do wonder if you’re doing the right thing. You wouldn’t have much time to think about it, life was so very busy. Every Saturday a 737 would land in Goose Bay full of eager fishermen ready for life on the edge. The chopper would dole out our portion of eager anglers, landing at Anne Marie with the most wonderful folks on this planet. They were the movers and shakers, full of interesting stories and lifestyles; stories that would captivate the imagination of our simple family.
Every single one that crossed the threshold of Anne Marie Lake, made an impression on us all, even now. Here I go, cause that was almost 40 years ago! I still remember so many of them: Luis Marden and his National Geographic travels and wonderful photography, Ethel and her cashmere sweater. I can still see her fishing waist high in Lover Boy, as accomplished and competent a woman as I’ve ever known! Andy Brown and his red plaid jacket telling me of his trip into the Labrador interior in the 50s on a journey only ever experienced by old trappers and native Labradorians. The “Colonel” from the UK at the kitchen table as we enjoyed a “stick” in our tea and battle-stories of his youth. Millard’s stories from Kenya. I could go on and on. We loved them all, dearly. We travelled the world sitting in our old armchairs around the crackling of the Anne Marie wood stove.
Now when we all get together with “da by’s” Ray and so many of his family who have done so many years out there talk about “old” times as well. I feel sad for the times that are gone and the life memories that all of them have taken with them, not only Luis and Ethel and Andy, they come to mind, but so many more, each with a signature story that often times brings tremendous moments of levity, others of sadness. I will recap some of these in subsequent posts, they are worthy of telling. The underlying thread through it all though is that they all loved Labrador, they loved Anne Marie, and they are all as much a part of the fabric of what our family has become as any Aunt or Uncle or Grandpa or Grandma. We loved to see them come.
Summing up almost 40 years of being in this business, despite the things that go wrong, there are a whole lot of things that have been just very ‘right’ about this life. And still, after all these years, there is nowhere else in the world that I would rather be.
Join me each month as I recall the real stories, Minipi Reflections.