Tag Archives: Newfoundland

Perhaps you want to go Faroe Faroe away?

You could do worse than a wander to the Faroe Islands. I went looking at them today as I wanted a northern turn. It hasn’t snowed here in Nova Scotia yet and I am wishing for a little whiteness to make Christmas come sooner. So I thought I’d take an imaginary trip to somewhere close to the North Pole.

The Faroe Islands are located just off the tip of the UK – bathed in the gulf stream leftovers perhaps, they are warmer than they have any right to expect to be. Quite tolerable at this time of year.

The Vikings lived there for years, and the 49,000 souls living on the 18 islands in this little archipelago remain furiously independent. Though they are technically part of Denmark, they fought with Viking ferocity to gain self-government status and have cleverly opted out of the EU, leaving them out of the mess that is at the moment. They’ve even managed to have their own national anthem, and are hoping for full independence if the oil reserves they think are there can be developed. Right now they live by fishing, and I think I should help them out with a bit of tourism.

It seems a breathtakingly beautiful place, with similarities to Newfoundland in geography and style – green mountains end in rocky drops to the sea; residents paint their houses in multiple colours much like they do in St. Johns. Newfoundland was a big Viking place, too. Perhaps the blood that runs through the Faroese is like that of the Newfoundlanders…

Their slogan, “Mitt alfagra land” means “My fairest land” and it seems justified. I mean – look at this photo:


How does anything that awesome actually exist? I could look at that for a couple of days straight and still not believe it. Check out Lonely Planet’s site for more amazing photos that fill me with wanderlust.

Add the fact that the place is a haven for all sorts of migrating and northern birds, like the puffins, kittiwakes, fulmars and guillemots(they come from the auk family!), and well, I’m looking at flights now.

It seems to be a place where you can wander lonely as a cloud, but link up with wireless and get a good fish cook up after you wander.  And while you eat, you could get called into some live music or an art gallery filled with vibrant art.

Hmm. Sounds more and more like Newfoundland. Pity we can’t push these places together. They’d probably have a lot of fun with each other.





Faroe on the bottom, Newfoundland and Labrador on the top


Faroe Islands

Faroe Islands

Wishing and dreading and hoping…

I have just read a novel of such unspeakable beauty that I am overwhelmed. Donna Morrissey’s Sylvanus Now is breathtaking, right from the first vision of Sylvanus jigging fish: right forearm up, left forearm down, left forearm up, right forearm down; to the vision of Adelaide’s eye, sparkling blue. It’s a novel about the changing of the fishery in Newfoundland, when large trawlers came in to rape the seas and the governments abandoned both the sea and the careful tenders of her in favour of cheap fish and way too much of it. It’s a story of a people forced to change their ways of life, and it seems as fresh now as when it was written, as we all cope with a changing economy and hang on the American election with bated breath, wondering what our future in Canada holds, tied as we are to the tails of the American Bald Eagle (a carrion-eater) and the Chinese Tiger (endangered by environmental change).

Donna Morrissey has won many awards for her writing, and they are well-deserved. Her power in a sentence is vast. Her ability to evoke the feelings of the people she describes, complicated and earthy and thoughtful and hidden as they are is astonishing.

I can’t believe I hadn’t read her before.

I feel small, I do, as I struggle to bring my words to life in even a tenth of the way Morrissey does. I know there are many authors who don’t write this way and are still successful, and who write perfectly acceptable stories and thrillers that make you want to stay up all night or love stories that make you yearn for the glory of new love (well, except for we cynics). But all of my life, despite my stated fondness for the “good enough” story, I’ve yearned to write like Morrissey, like Helen Humphreys, Frances Itani, Bronwyn Wallace. I want to wrestle feelings from readers, transport them, make them feel the sea spray or the bombs thundering or the mud or the fear.

It’s funny the reaction I have when reading such writing. I relax into the book, knowing I am in the hands of a master, knowing the book will take me on a ride and enclose me in its world. I stay awake, eyelids flipping up and down like a blind in the hands of a misbehaving preschooler, unwilling to let the world go, reading just that one more page. With lesser books, I stay alert, less involved, easier to distract, more likely to put it down, even if it is a good book. The great books show me their hearts. I can’t help but respond.

And the feeling lingers. After Sylvanus Now, I want to go out and see the sea, inhale it, feel its call, see the salt-bleached houses, run the wind through my hair.

Fortunately, I live in Nova Scotia. The sea is fifteen minutes away. “Go on, you foolish thing,” I can hear Florry say.