Friendship is a wonderful thing

Friendship is a wonderful thing. Though I am stating the obvious, I feel compelled to reiterate the claim that friendship—my friendships to be specific—certainly are one of my most treasured and precious gifts.
I recently had the great fortune of travelling to Newfoundland (my first trip) to attend Piper’s Frith, a writing workshop held at Kilmory Resort, a most enchanting destination. In Cabin 20, I hunkered down with Hazel of Owen Sound fame, one of my dearest friends, where both of us sat, with pen and computer at hand, writing and rewriting—and rewriting again—the best darn fiction we had every produced.
And in between these creative outbursts, we laughed—laughs that ranged from giggles to guffaws.
We were like two little girls invited for a sleepover, dropping our bags at the door of the cabin and checking out the “digs.” I almost succumbed to my urge to jump on the bed.
Hazel acquiesced to my breathless plea to have the loft, “Please, please, please may I have the loft,” my hands folded under my chin in prayer.
What a good friend.
Turns out my mattress was slightly crappy (the technical term for a mattress well past its best-before date). No harm, though, as it was worth it to climb up the stairs each evening like I was ascending to my tree fort, just short of Heaven, my very own secret hideout to where I would try (without much success) to find sleep.
It is not possible to mention Newfoundland—“The Rock”—in a brushed over manner, as though Newfoundland were merely an expression. And please afford the province its earned respect in pronouncing the name with some degree of authenticity: NewfoundLAND (the heavy emphasis on the last syllable).
Practice saying the name, repeating it in your head to ensure your accuracy. Not NewFOUNDland or NEWfunlund, but New-fun-LAND.
NewfoundLAND is, simply put, an exquisite destination with landscape that challenges (and I can only guess) surpasses the beauty of Ireland, its geographic cousin.
NewfoundLAND is, at once, both sparse and complex. We marvelled, while driving, at the rolling barrens resembling in a kinder way the high Arctic. Rounded peaks of stone were garnished with patches of colourful hardwoods, though not many in that first stretch north and west of St. John’s.
The place is made most remarkable by the people and their beautiful language, the “U” and “R” that they alone have command of, their inherent phonetics. They are proud of this land they call home and though economics often makes them stray west, they sound a keen and eager bunch to return home.
This trip was about writing, restoring the inspiration and the creative commitment, and it was about friendship, about Hazel, and sharing space with her. Hazel and I are kindred in our passion for the written word and for our desire to get down on paper the words that tumble around and around in our respective heads, falling into some particular order when they hit the page that becomes our own unique voice.
What I shall cherish, aside of the new faces that became like-minded comrades, is the sound of Hazel’s voice floating up the stairs to my loft. “Are you asleep?”
Or last evening, late, too late, when she ran her toes along the end of her bed in our shared B&B room, I could snap with my sharpest pretending-to-be-annoyed tone with, “What are you doing?” which only resulted in sending the two of us off into uncontrollable laughter—trying to keep the volume down so as not to disturb the guests up above us who, just an hour or so previously, had practised dropping their suitcases from various heights.
And now, here I sit in St. John’s International Airport, enjoying the benefits of NewfoundLAND’s infamous fog, with a big helping hand from Hurricane Sandy—fog as thick as mud.
I may never get off “The Rock” I say with head bent over paper and pen scribbling madly, but would that be so bad?
wendistewart@live.ca

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