The greyness of the past several days was really starting to get to me. While I like a good fog as much as the next person, too much of a mediocre one can wear on the nerves. Yesterday afternoon, the sun finally found us again. We stopped at the beach on the way to pick up John and basked for a bit.
Newfoundland is full of unusual people of exceptional tenacity and remarkable problem-solving ability. You need only look at places like Grate’s Cove, where people farmed a land which had no topsoil. They made their own, making compost, hauling seaweed and grazing sheep for the manure created. They also used their primary resource (rocks) to build everything they needed for subsistence.
The Ruby family in the Goulds, just outside of St. John’s, is another example of this dogged determination. When the Anglican Church decided to build a facility to serve the area, they put it a fair distance away, in the eyes of George Ruby.
Not one to be easily daunted, he mustered his family and community and they contribued land, materials and labour to build a new chapel, called St. Matthew’s Church. The cornerstone was laid September 10, 1913, although the church was never actually officially consecrated. Services were often conducted by students from the theological school, Queen’s College, and the officiants were paid in vegetables from the Ruby Farms.
In 1964, a new church was built just down the road and the Ruby Church was used mostly as a burial chapel and it started to decay. There was a big dispute as to who owned what in 1986, when the dicoese wanted to tear down the chapel and the historical society, led by Rubys, strongly objected.
This year, in 2012, the chapel made Newfoundland Historic Trust’s list of Buildings at Risk. Next year, if it’s still standing, it will be 100 years old.
I say, “if it’s still standing” because the sad fact is that the building has decayed significantly since the last time I photographed it, in December of 2008.
You can’t see it in these shots, but the foundation has cracked quite significantly throughout and it has definitely gotten worse since I last looked closely.
It joins the list of Gothic Revival churches in Newfoundland that need a new purpose and a new stab at life.
There are times (some call them “Mondays”) when the world just feels amok. Things happen that could be described as “challenges” and I’m still not convinced that they make me a better person. For instance, the coffee maker, programmed to make elixir at 6:45am, spontaneously exploded and spewed coffee and grounds on the counters, into the cupboards, all over the floor, after flooding its own electronics. The result? Big mess, no coffee, broken coffee maker.
On days like that, you mop up the mess and try not to think about the headache of finding a new coffeemaker.
You also look for joy everywhere and anywhere, delighting in it when you finally find it.
I dropped everyone off everywhere and decided to take a jaunt along Brookfield Road. Not knowing quite why, I swung into Pearltown Road and stopped at Lester’s Farm there.
In the past, I’ve noticed that they have an interesting assortment of critters. Their cows are not your usual cows and their sheep fit the same category. It being spring and all, I though I’d take a peak and see if there was anything interesting happening.
This is what greeted me as I approached the barn:
The Jersey calves always make me think of a fairly tale. With their huge brown eyes and soft faces, they look like creatures from Bambi.
I didn’t want to bother them, so these are all taken at a distance, with my trusty 200mm zoom lens.
There were also piglets running everywhere, dodging in and out of the barn and weaving expertly between the legs of the sheep.
The sheep are quite fascinating. A couple of years ago, I had a conversation with Jim Lester a few years ago about these sheep. They’re a Newfoundland heritage variety known as “St. Jacques Sheep“, from Fortune Bay, one of three distinctive breeds found in Newfoundland (the other two are the Bourgoynes Cove and Exploits Islands sheep). Their DNA is distinctive and they have been more or less maintained in a pure strain for hundreds of years. They shed their coats, often have mottled fleeces, are found in a wild array of patterns and many have horns. [As an aside, I have wondered if they're distantly related to Jacob Sheep, who also have horns (albeit two sets) and are multi-coloured.]
There were, of course, lambs. Some were black, some multi-coloured and some white.
And that was just about what I needed to fortify me for the week.
After yesterday, a day which ended in K having a friend “sleep” over, we all decided that we all very much needed a quiet family day; we needed a day without much in it that moved along at a snail’s pace and allowed for spontaneous naps, flagrant and wanton knitting, unavoidable encounters with ice cream and periodic excursions into places of peace and solitude.
And since the above turned out to be just one sentence, a fact which proves that I’m not fit to be trusted with the English language this evening, I’ll just leave it at that.
This weekend has been crazily busy thus far, mostly with Craft Council of Newfoundland & Labrador-related things. The annual Craft Council Seconds Sale was today, as were assorted open studios and craft events that have been collectively gathered under the auspices of “The May Day Craft Weekend“. More on this after I finished editing the photos! Since I was involved with the Seconds Sale, I didn’t get around to all the other offerings, but John and Katherine took the camera and the map and visited all but one of the open houses. They had a great time, took some photos, ate things, spent some money (which is really the best way for ordinary folks to support craftspeople and artists) and basically had a great Dad & Kid morning.
After things wound up, I was beat to a snot and couldn’t decide whether to drink or sleep. Instead, we opted for a walk out The Beamer (long spit of rock sticking out into the ocean), in Flatrock, to stretch legs, be away from crowds and relax. The fog was doing interesting things, so it looked like it might provide some nifty photo opportunities.
Of course, as soon as we got out and started walking, the fog began to lift.
So instead of mysterious rocks, shrouded in fog, I have big rocks in the middle of nowhere just sitting there.
Then we decided to wander along and check on a couple of geocaches of ours that we hadn’t visited in a while. In so doing, we stopped past a stream I had photographed recently. I took another exposure of it with the new lens, just for interest’s sake…
More on the rest of the day later. That glass of wine sounds good right about now…