I am a native in this world And think in it as a native thinks

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Random things I saw in Newfoundland

Some bright colors in Twillingate.

Astronomy Tuesday

Ordinarily I wouldn't post another Saturn image but I couldn't possibly resist this one from Cassini: an array of moons.

Image Credit: Cassini Imaging Team, SSI, JPL, NASA

Monday, October 21, 2019

More Maritime seating

I love how this pair at Norstead look like the Viking version of the usual chairs.

Maritime seating

These colorful chairs (the same ones on the harbor in Halifax) were everywhere in Newfoundland. I'm guessing that most of them come inside when summer's over.

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Sunday bird blogging

A gull checks out the offerings left by the receding tide in St. Anthony, and then takes off with something good.

Saturday, October 19, 2019


Even on our last morning, we visited a museum before heading to the airport. The Insectarium in Deer Lake has a hive of bees (under glass so you watch them dance when they come back from a flower run and tell the other bees where the flowers are), ants and spiders, and a room full of butterflies. I am always a sucker for butterflies.

Saturday reflections

Newfoundland is undeniably photogenic -- almost ridiculously so -- but there weren't a lot of reflections there. This view of St. Anthony harbor before we went whale watching will do though.

I'm almost finished with the Newfoundland pictures, and I'm equal parts relieved and sorry. It was a wonderful trip -- stunning scenery, congenial companions, good food, and fascinating history that I knew very little about -- but it has consumed most of my free time for weeks now. I'm going to see Come from Away tomorrow, and that will be the perfect coda.

Until I can go back.

Friday, October 18, 2019

My own Antonioni moment

This building was near the Point Riche lighthouse and the beach with the caribou. I don't think I noticed the people in the background when I took the picture; I just liked the building and the boat in the distance.

But when I was cleaning and cropping, I took a closer look and it looks as though there could have been, if not a murder, at least some kind of emergency. A man seems to be lying on the ground, held up from behind by a woman. His head looks like he's slumped over. Is he sick or injured and she's trying to help him? Are they just goofing around? It's impossible to tell. There wasn't any shouting or calling for help -- I would have noticed that, and other people were around -- so I assume it wasn't too serious. But it definitely gave me a start.

Everyone has a camera now, all the time, so it's no longer a question of whether something gets photographed, it's whether we'll understand what we're looking at, like poor David Hemmings finding  that the blur in his photos of the London park was really a dead body in Blowup

Thursday, October 17, 2019

(Slightly) better look at the caribou

I wasn't able to get great pictures of the caribou because -- funny story! -- once I realized that there were caribou, I went back to the bus to get my long lens and someone closed the bus door behind me, shutting me in. It was like a scene from a sitcom, where my fellow travelers and Daphne the driver were walking past the bus and I was inside, yelling and waving my arms and pounding on the door and no one noticed me.

Port au Choix beach

We stopped for a group photo at a monument with this as a backdrop. Afterwards, I took several photos of this little building out in the middle of nowhere without noticing that the brown lumps to the left were caribou.

The name Port au Choix does not mean “Port of Choice”, by the way -- the Basque fishermen who visited in the 16th century called it Portutxoa, or Little Port. Later it was part of an area where the French had rights to fish, and the name morphed into its French soundalike.

Port au Choix

The view outside the Visitor Centre, and yet another completely new landscape in Newfoundland. This is a small peninsula on the western side of the Great Northern Peninsula, about halfway between Cow Head and St. Anthony, and looking nothing like either of them.

The barren limestone soil at Port au Choix is excellent for preserving fossils and archaeological artifacts, and they have found evidence of more than 5500 years of habitation. The Visitor Centre has interesting exhibits on what they've found and what it tells us about the indigenous peoples who lived there. One of the staff (whose name I unfortunately don't remember) gave a very interesting informal overview of the history of the First Nations in Canada who, sadly but not unsurprisingly, were treated as badly as we treated our own Native Americans.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Astronomy Tuesday

This beautiful star cluster, captured by Hubble, has the very unromantic name of NGC 290. An open cluster like this one, as opposed to a globular cluster, tends to be younger and so has many more bright blue stars. Since all of the stars in an open cluster were born at around the same time, astronomers find them useful for studying how stars of differing masses evolve differently.

Image Credit: NASA, ESA, Hubble; Acknowledgement: E. Olzewski (U. Arizona)

Early Halloween present

These spooky trees were at the Arches park, across from the beach.

Monday, October 14, 2019

Completely unnecessary beach shot

This is the view looking up the beach from the Arches.

I realize that I have already posted dozens and dozens of pictures of the Newfoundland coastline, but I really like this one for some reason. There's that giant rock, for one thing -- too big to just ignore, but not big enough to get its own park. And the fallen tree in the foreground that I keep thinking is a dinosaur bone. And the memory of how unpleasant it was walking on that rocky shore -- medium-sized round boulders are my least favorite walking surface -- but I managed not to fall and break any bones, so I can enjoy the fact that I am sitting in New York relatively undamaged.

Arch details

The Arches

This provincial park on the coast south of St. Anthony features a large rock formation that's eroded by the waves into a series of arches.

My last lighthouse

I thought I still had one more, but it turns out I jumped ahead and posted the Point Riche lighthouse last week.

So this cute little lighthouse in St. Anthony is actually the last one.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Synchronized spouting

And one final whale shot -- two of those little fins, two blowholes, two spouts.

More bits and pieces

One of the things I find frankly adorable about humpbacks is that tiny fin on that great big humped back. And I love the barnacles on the flipper -- whale jewelry!

Now that's a mouth

Here's a good look at the mouth, with both jaws visible and the baleen inside.

Grandma, what big baleen you have!

The picture on the left is of a humpback's head, but what isn't obvious -- or at least, it wasn't, for me -- is that it's really only the upper jaw. I had to Google images of humpbacks feeding in order to make sense of the various whale body parts I saw.

If you picture a giant toilet with the seat up, the upper jaw in the picture is just the seat. Underneath the water, the lower jaw is sitting there like an enormous bowl -- you can see part of the lower jaw in the picture on the right. That gives you a much better sense of the size of the creature who is basically just poking his nose above the surface.

More bits and pieces

This is a good look at the blowhole on top of the humpback's head, and the baleen inside its mouth that filters all the water out as it feeds, leaving the yummy fish.

Sunday bird blogging

Seabirds hovering over the whales hoping to snatch some of the fish the whales were herding against the rocks.

Speaking of bits and pieces

I love this picture of a single fin against the rocks.

These whales have learned that by swimming close to the rocks they can trap the fish there and scoop them up.

Saturday, October 12, 2019


Back to St. Anthony and the amazingly obliging humpbacks. Well, not obliging enough to leap out of the water and let us see them in their all their glory, all at once. Unless you're a scuba diver or a lucky snorkeler, you're only going to see big whales like humpbacks in bits and pieces.

But such beautiful bits and pieces.

Friday, October 11, 2019

One more Viking house

L'Anse aux Meadows does have its own reconstructed Viking building overlooking the sea.

One of the many things I loved about L'Anse aux Meadows is the name -- an unapologetic portmanteau of English and French. (The original name may have been either L’Anse à la Médée, named after a ship, or L'Anse aux Méduses, Jellyfish Bay.)

The past outlined

It's open grassland now, but it was all forest a thousand years ago. The eight buildings found here included a woodworking shop, and the settlement was probably a base, rather than a colony. It's too exposed for farming, and there's no sign of a barn or agricultural implements; the buildings were all either workshops for things like ship repair, or dwellings.

The location of the sod walls was not so well defined before the excavations, by the way. The houses were just some grassy lumps that the locals referred to as the Old Indian Camp.

Leif Ericsson Was (Probably) Here

This depression marks the location of the smithy's forge.

From Wikipedia:  Two Icelandic sagas, commonly called the Saga of the Greenlanders and the Saga of Erik the Red, describe the experiences of Norse Greenlanders who discovered and attempted to settle land to the west of Greenland, which they called Vinland. The sagas suggest that the Vinland settlement failed because of conflicts within the Norse community, as well as between the Norse and the native people they encountered, whom they called Skrælingar.

The publisher of a newspaper in St. John's had suggested L'Anse aux Meadows might have been the site of a Vinland settlement back in 1914, and at least one archaeologist had done a test excavation in the 1950's. The husband-wife team of explorer Helge Ingstad and archaeologist Anne Stine Ingstad finally found the remains of Norse buildings in 1960, and carried out excavations for the next eight years.

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