TESSI VISITS THE PAST (Norstead, Newfoundland)

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On the treeless landscape by the sea, the village appeared lonely as it waited in fog for its people to take their places for the new day. Helen, the dogs and I were the first visitors of the morning. The manager, Dale, greeted us as she emerged from the veiled scenery. We chatted a bit and empathized with her when she sighed over having to leave her dog, Dixie, at home while at work. I was relieved when she told us leashed dogs are allowed in the village, adding that ours could likely run free on the open terrain on the far side, since it’s usually quiet there. With that said and needing to return to her tasks, she disappeared back into the fog. With anticipation, we headed into the past to enjoy a bit of dog-friendly Viking joviality. A Viking Introduction Vikings briefly settled a millennium ago on the tip of Newfoundland’s Northern Peninsula. In existence today, the village of Norstead features re-enactors, who give visitors an extensive idea of daily life during that era. Before entering the settlement, Tessi and I visited the restroom. Upon leaving it, we almost plowed into a group of Vikings, who had gathered outside the adjacent room to discuss their upcoming day. A couple of modern coffee cups I spotted reminded me we hadn’t quite reached the past yet. Once we paid the entrance fee, we followed a fenced-in ramp that drew us into history, where we found appropriately attired men and women going about their day amongst sod buildings and varied pieces of artwork and artifacts. Wilbur Our first contact with a member of the community was with Wilbur, the female pig. She and Tessi curiously sniffed each other through a gap in the fence. All would have stayed friendly if Tessi hadn’t suddenly started barking. A frightened Wilbur quickly escaped into her small home. I had to drag Tessi away. I wonder what she thought of Wilbur. Did Tessi comprehend the pig smelled too much like the delicacy of certain treats previously dined on? Lambi In the boathouse by the great ship Snorri, Tessi and Missy patiently waited while Helen and I listened to Lambi, the village skald, as he regaled us in theatrical detail about Viking life and their settlement. He later told me the village receives about 30 canine visitors a year and scarcely experiences problems. An Uncomfortable Religion In the Christian church, I contemplated the uncomfortable looking pews, which were fashioned out of sparse strips of wood. I was thankful I didn’t have to endure them on a regular basis. Viking Attention

…she regally observed her temporary domain.

  When we entered the chieftain’s hall, we came across several women casually working on projects. They stopped to gush over our girls, which perked them up. Tessi was invited to sit on the chieftain’s prominent chair. While I took her picture, she regally observed her temporary domain. Afterwards Tessi and Missy gulped down some dried berries one of the women offered. More Temptation Once her short-term reign ended, we wandered outside. We discovered Wilbur wasn’t the only creature on the grounds to stir up Tessi’s predatory instincts. Chickens, with their palette of fancy coloured feathers for which I attempted pictures of, had her persistently straining against her leash. I had to give up on the photography. Whereas Wilbur had made Tessi mostly curious, the chickens meant serious hunting business. I had to force her away, far from the chickens’ pen. This landed us at the fortuneteller’s tent. Helen decided on a reading, so I figured I might as well sit for one, too. Tessi once again patiently waited as the rune stones revealed a bright, but challenging future. I thought about how this fortune affects her also since our lives are strongly intertwined. A Wander Through Time Sightseeing finished, we wandered away from the village and meandered along the shoreline full of dark, jagged outcropping. Gradually leaving the past behind, we found ourselves where time appeared non-existent. Throughout our Viking tour, I had been eyeing a shadow of a distant hill as it steadily revealed itself out of the dissipating fog. We followed a worn footpath up its slope. An abundance of spongy vegetation and cracks in the protruding rocks kept Tessi’s nose on the move. Tiny islands offshore seemed ghost-like as they faded in and out of wispy strands of leftover fog. At the top of the hill, I observed the past where the village inhabitants continued their daily duties and entertained visitors of my present. In the other direction, seagulls swept by us on invisible air currents over the sea with its gentle waves. I was lingering with appreciation of the raw beauty around me, when I noticed Tessi looking at me, her head cocked at an angle, as if to ask, “Are you coming?” Time moves on, and I guess it was including us in its progress. The future was calling us home. For More Info

 (c) Cheryl Smyth, 2012


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