Hugged by the spruces and birches of the surrounding forests we drove onward, mile after mile of green on green, with flashes of the blue ocean interjecting. And then, just before any thoughts of monotony could creep into the mind, we burst onto an open area devoid of almost anything but low olive-brown scrub, leaving us to believe briefly that we had left this world. Littered with small ponds full of inviting water and with boulders strewn across its expanse, carelessly left by glaciers thousands of years before, it was both peaceful and beautifully desolate. Its one lonely road stretched far off into the horizon, quietly beckoning us forward, “just a little bit further… there’s still more to see… just keep going.”
Obeying this siren call, we turned towards the eastern region of the province, bound for the Bonavista Peninsula where many believe Cabot became the first European to set foot on ‘the New Founde Lande’. We paused in Trinity, a small village rich in history, where English fishermen first settled in the century after European discovery. With the clouds staying away and the sun blessing us with warmth, the cold and wind of the days before now long forgotten, we strolled through the town of saltbox houses taking in the views across the harbour. As we did we contemplated what life would have been like for the residents here hundreds of years ago as they tried to make a new life, in a new world, with nothing but a faint promise of success at the expense of great personal toil.
When we finally arrived in Bonavista we were greeted by its unordered collection of quaint houses and buildings and a harbour full of fishing boats either having returned with their delicious haul or about to head out again for more. High up on the rocky point near the old lighthouse, our view was framed by Trinity Bay to the south, Bonavista Bay to the north and the Atlantic further beyond. We counted the icebergs we could see, far from the ruggedly beautiful shores – one, two… eight, nine, perhaps more? Some were large, some small, some seemingly headed directly into the bays nearby, and others further south, but all to meet the same fate we had already seen days before, one way or another.
Sitting high up on the cape for some time, marvelling at the views, I felt more peaceful than I had in a long time. I thought about John Cabot when I saw his statue in the grounds below the lighthouse. Yes, Newfoundland was as he supposedly said – O buona vista – but in our time here we had found it to be that and much, much more.