French Island

Photo by Ray Bilcliff on Pexels.com

surrounded in the francais
schoolboys like I, chase through stone corridors in jest
pass tank topped bread makers and
rum runners filling dark sacks
who was I to speak to the going-ons of this foreign land
take me instead to the countryside
in an hour less a half
share with me tales
let me sip wine
and pretend that I am a man





Ashback # 8 – Wolverine Gull

Hey everybody,

I received a comment on my blog this morning that was left on yesterday’s entry. It not only blew me away, but it also hyper-spaced me down memory lane. It was from an old friend of mine from my childhood. Scratch that, an old best friend of mine, and boy did it instantly put a smile on my face. I literally laughed out loud when I saw the handle that this person had used to post the comment. As you WordPress users already know, comments on your blog are sometimes left there by fellow bloggers, but sometimes they are left from email followers. I pretty much know all my email followers personally as they are mostly friends, family, and the odd coworker past and present. This person though, I believe has been visiting my blog for some time now and has finally made me aware of it in a very subtle way. Well, at least I’m 99.9% sure it is. I mean, it has to be. There is only a few living souls that I know on the face of this earth that would know the legend of the “Wolverine Gull”. (Dramatic voice)

Continue reading “Ashback # 8 – Wolverine Gull”

I Miss the Shot

I went for walk a couple days ago and spent a little time in the basketball court, the air was brisk, the sun beaming down, just the perfect conditions for a pickup game.  Both the basketball court and tennis court  were free at the time, a sight like that in my youth would be like finding a dollar each time you looked down, pure win.  Growing up I lived on the court where I played basketball, tennis, a lot of volleyball and well hockey was just a staple and a given growing up in small town Newfoundland, Canada.  Sports like those were a constant in my life and a constant in the lives of my friends, we all had the same passion for high school sports with a camaraderie that still exists today.  Certainly, we have all moved on with ours lives but if we happen to run into each other today we immediately start reminiscing of missed shots, long car rides and that time we all got in trouble for someone stealing a Crash Test Dummies CD.  Sports did that for me, it provided some of the best years of my life and I think every young boy and girl should get a chance to play something and challenge themselves while they make friends doing it.

wp-1474844696830.jpg

I remember the first time that I made a high school team, it was volleyball.  I had signed up using the clipboard signup sheet that was always hanging from the coaches door, dangling from an old piece of wool that someone must have brought from art class.  For the three days that followed I kept dragging myself to tryouts, each day at 3:15, all intimidated, nervous and unsure that I had what it took.  To make matters worst my best friend had actually backed out the day of, so I was really swimming in the deep end now with most of the team consisting of the whole ninth grade, a grade up on me and I was only familiar with a couple of the guys.  By the time the last tryout was finished I did get to know everybody but as a consequence to that I then learned that there were only a few open spots so I didn’t really get my hopes up.  The two days between the last tryout and knowing if I had made the team were brutal, the suspense nearly killed me.

The day had finally came, the team had been picked and we were to be notified by the coach personally if we had indeed made it, if he dropped by the classroom that would be a good thing.  It was pushing 3:00 on a Thursday afternoon when there was a knock on the door, it was coach, I immediately started to try to read his lips.  I couldn’t make out what he was saying  to the homeroom teacher but after what felt like an eternity he finally addressed the class and spoke three names, just three and those name were “Paul, Paul and Ashley”.  Never had my name ever sounded so soothing to my ears, I was instantly relieved, all that hard work had paid off and I was now part of an actual team. (true story see below)

FB_IMG_1444439538285

High school for me just kind of happened and I believe sports had a lot to do with that, I kept good grades, actually my grandmother deserves the most credit for that but playing sports was more like a luxury for me and being a good student allowed me that luxury.  I see kids playing sports all the time, they’re fun to watch, there’s too much negativity in the world so we need more of the small things and we can find that in our kids.  We watch them as they walk in our own foot steps and we vicariously start living through their success because you can relate to how genuinely happy they are playing a sport they love.  A few years ago my daughter actually took up sports for awhile, she called one day to tell me she had made the volleyball team, I was so proud, and she was doing on her own merit.  I remember barely containing myself hanging on her every word, I was a proud dad, it was indeed  a moment (sniff).  Although she moved on from sports as some kids do, she did get the chance to experience sports on a team level, she had some fun and created bonds for life.

wp-1475198051380.jpg

Speaking of bonds, playing outside as a kid was how I met most of my friends, we played hockey on the street all the time.  There was my friend Colin, one time he must have taken a full 30 minutes to get suited up in our makeshift goalie gear only to then take a rock to the lip on the first shot, he was done.  Oh yeah, a guy by the name of Corey who had a the heart of a Stanley Cup champion, he loved road hockey.  There were moments of my life where shooting a few hoops was a way to talk it out with a buddy, or maybe we’d make plans for the next day with a few jump shots before we called it a night.  I remember walking home as a teenager from a school dance with a close friend of mine Willie, who has since passed on, sometimes we would shoot hoops until the sun came up, just chatting it up while taking layups on a dimly lite basketball net.  I’ll never forget that, and I will never forget him, he was a good friend.

download-3

When I was a kid I would visit my dad for a couple months of the summer, his sport was tennis which then became our sport.  He would bring me to the local tennis club and kick my ass up and down that court each match we played but I kept wanting more, some day I’d beat him, it was happening.  Every morning and again that same evening I’d battle my father back and forth trying to anticipate his next move, closing the gap and finally getting close enough where I might pull it off.  We played all summer one year barely missing a day.  I enjoyed that time with my father, for the first time in my life I felt we had connected through sport and for those tiny moments nothing else mattered.  We bonded a lot that summer and I learned more and more about him as we continued to play.  It was like we were getting to know each other on a different level and I am just now looking back realizing how happy I was.   He did a great job pushing me to my limits and taught me the lesson of being humble, I learned how to lose and I learned how to win.  I have him to thank for that, he showed me that you can be good but there will always be someone who could be better, so try your best every time and make sure to have fun.

That’s the thing about sports, they bring people together, they teach us a lot about ourselves.   Not only does sports help us physically and keep us healthy but it can be very helpful mentally as well.  Physical activity can help with stress, you’d be surprised how good you would feel by just getting outside and tossing the ball around.  I always look for opportunities to get outside with the nephews and nieces when they visit and they love it, there’s nothing like chasing the kids around the  yard and teaching them the concept of a game.

wp-1475198040962.jpg

Standing there at that moment and looking in at the empty court I couldn’t quite stop but think of the days where courts like the one before me would have been a forwarding address for me at one point in my life.  Take advantage of those moments as often as you can, time flies by so fast so have fun as much as possible.  Get out there and kick the ball around, walk to the park and shoot some hoops.  Go ahead and put your household title on the line and challenge the kids to a game of horse with the loser getting the dreaded dish duty.

 

 

Mom  

(Something I found that I wrote for my mother a long time ago)

Happy Birthday to my mom, to my lovely mother;
your beauty compares, to no other.
 
Your eyes always glow and twinkle when you smile;
I think back at old times and thought for awhile.
 
I’m blessed to have a mom with such a big heart and warm soul;
Every day of my life my love for you grows.
 
I miss you all the time, I wish I was near;
To give you a birthday kiss; to hold you my dear.
 
Another year as gone by, another year has passed;
Some days we have cried some days we have laughed.
 
You’re a special person mother, so giving of yourself;
Happiness is all you seek, more than treasures and wealth.
 
You cared for us all, and always there you would be;
Whether it was the role of a daughter, or a mom to three.

I wrote this today after thinking of you;
I thought to myself what can I do?
 
So read these lines and listen to what I say;
I want you to celebrate your very special day.
 
And remember birthdays are but a number, just one more trip around the sun;
It’s your time now mother so go have some fun.
 
Love Ash

Home is still home…

I’m just now getting around to posting about our holiday back in Harbour Breton this summer and it was everything that we had anticipated, it was a great trip all around.  We took each day as it came and as on the fly as it was we actually got a chance to do everything that we had set out in our minds to do.  Our goal was to make sure to see everybody and do a few things that we used to do when we lived there ourselves, simple as that.  It’s been about three years since we travelled home so we wanted to make sure to make to the most out of it.

One of the first things that I did was take a quick drive by the home that I grew up in.  It feels weird now returning home without my old house to visit, the house although virtually the same had this unknown feeling about it, like my chapter and the chapter of my family there had been finished.

DSC_0231

I took a long look across the harbour, so many memories came rushing back, for a moment it felt like I never left, everywhere I looked evoked emotion.  The rolling hills with the calm shoreline created the perfect backdrop to my moment of reflection, it was nice and a great way to kick off the visit.

wp-1472405671834.jpg

The trip home was a drive and then some so for the first night we mostly just talked, got caught up and enjoyed each others company.  Family gatherings are a cliche without trying to be, you all pile into a common room of the house, energy all around you, everybody talking over each other, we were home.  Kids tugging at your shirt tales, dogs barking at every thud, food coming from every angle, there was a controlled chaos.  We talked until the early morning hours but it was getting late and there was a whole new day before us.  We all began to turn in when it came time to delegate rooms, we snagged the room with the superhero sheets, my inner nerd rejoiced.

A highlight of the trip for me was the fact that I did manage to get to borrow a bike and get two bike rides in, I was so happy that worked out, something else that was on my trip home bucket list.  The first one was an impromptu ride with my nephews, they loved every second of it and I was glad to have the opportunity.  A flood of memories came back as I cruised the streets like I did as a kid, it was surreal, I could almost feel myself back there.

DSC_0171

We were’t sure how long we had for this spur of the moment adventure but you know what? I was too busy reliving my childhood to care, with the kids leading the way we were now heading to the beach.  I must of went down that dirt road a million times as a kid, it was a great ride down memory lane, the trail was not letting me down, what a ride.

dsc_0176.jpg

About a quarter of a ways we ran into my uncle in law who is a very talented photographer, we did the stop and talk and he asked for a photo op so we got our picture taken, it’s the one you see below, by the way here’s a link to some of his other work.  With a short walk across the beach we were on our way again, there was just one last leg of the ride to go.

wp-1472400692995.jpg

Bike ride, check, now we were about to take a boat ride for a boil up.  We were feeling quite spoiled as guests and it was only getting better, we all climbed into my brother in laws’s boat and he proceeded to pull away from the dock.

DSC_0186

As we sped down the harbour, with smiles all around, I couldn’t help think of the time I would do the same with my grandfather as we ventured out fishing or beach combing the shoreline.  The two dogs, Max and Major were loving it, you could tell they really enjoyed getting out in the boat and we were glad to be tagging along.

DSC_0198.JPG

It was decided due to the wind that day that we would opt for an alternative spot to pull ashore, this gem of a location was second to none, we landed on the north side of Jersey Harbour and right next to the M.V. Home.

dsc_0211.jpg

I took a walk with my littlest nephew Brandon and we went berry picking, the berries were everywhere.  It was like our own personal berry drive thru, blueberries to the right and raspberries to the left.  Because of the views all around us, I couldn’t help but to take a moment and reflect upon the fact that people had once lived here some time ago, I was once told that horses once roamed wild and galloped free on the banks of the shoreline, it was indeed a different time, a time I’m sure somebody misses everyday.

DSC_0208

We had scallops by the shore, roasted wieners by the fire and marshmallows because come on, you got to have marshmallows.  We spent the time combing the beach, exploring the wreckage, and skipping rocks as far as we could.

dsc_0220.jpg

It was so peaceful there, the ocean  was swaying in and out teasing it’s tides and drawing concern the odd moment from the skipper.  Time seemed to have stood still, the air was warm and the smell of smoke was therapeutic in a way, it was like the rest of the world was put on pause.  Sometimes it’s the small things that give you the most satisfaction in life and it’s unfortunate we don’t take the time to do those things more often.

wp-1472405749448.jpg

It was time to pack up and head home, with Brandon assuring that the gas was topped up we began to load up the boat and begin our venture back.  The return boat ride was just as beautiful as it was when we left, getting to see the harbour again from that perspective as we steamed along was a moment we surely will not forget, day two proved to be quite rewarding.

DSC_0190

What’s one thing that you got to do when  you get home?  Give up? You got to visit the local “best fries south of everywhere” restaurant.  You know, that place with the secret recipe for gravy, no trip home is complete without that.  My fiance and I took a seat at a table that was in a place that look exactly like it did when we were teenagers, it was pretty nostalgic. We had the place to ourselves and just talked about our trip up to that point, it was like we were in a time capsule.  After taking a look around and while waiting for our food we started to share old stories of the place, so many memories triggered by the smell of chicken fingers dancing around your nose and it smells exactly the same.  The food didn’t disappoint and it was just as good as we remembered and now we had the visit to the restaurant checked off our list, so far, so good.

Like I mentioned, I managed to get in two bike rides and the second was by myself, the town was my map and I had no idea where to start.  So off I went, I zoomed by the post office, zipped past the bridge that connected both sides of the harbour and decided to head down toward the area where I grew up.  I got off the bike for a second and took a picture of my street where I grew up.  It looked so small, how could twenty or so kids jam a hockey game in place as tiny as that?  The amount of hockey games that took place in the spot pictured below I couldn’t count, but I can certainly recall the Stanley Cup moments we used to relive, good times.

DSC_0229.JPG

I biked virtually the whole community and if it wasn’t for dark I would have kept going, I knew I wouldn’t get the chance anytime soon so I was getting my fill.  It was a beautiful ride and it also proved to be quite the workout as well, there was so much to see and I still didn’t get a chance to see it all.

DSC_0235

The bike ride was fun and I got to retrace some of my childhood steps, it was nice to incorporate my current lifestyle into a visit to the small town where I grew up.  It has been maybe twenty plus years or more since I was biking the old neighbourhood, I’m happy that I made a point to do it.

DSC_0232

On the last night of our trip we went to my brother in law’s cabin, it was about an hour away from the Harbour Breton and for us, it was a hour that we shaved off our trip back to Mount Pearl the following day.  The cabin road was modestly marked by two poles that signalled the beginning of the dirt road leading the way to the cabin which was nestled deep in woods overlooking a huge pond, it was a beautiful piece of land.  As soon as we pulled up you could notice the abundance of berries that were ready to pick, I took a bunch with my first swipe, how convenient.

DSC_0218

As the evening drew near and the sun began to set we started to make a fire, the evening breeze was calm, the flies were staying away and there were s’mores in our future.  As mentioned the cabin overlooks a pond that stretches for miles, a loon call in the near distance reminds you that you’re on mother nature’s door step. That night we sang songs and played music with everyone lending their voice to tunes we knew half the words to. The best times are the times that just happen, much like that night, an impromptu song and dance was all we needed to cap off a wonderful retreat.

DSC_0251.JPG

There was a certain calm about being off the grid, no notifications prompting your attention, no status updates, no city traffic, nothing at all to create stress, just a quiet that was very welcomed…thanks Travis and Juanette.

DSC_0249

The morning of the last day of our visit the birds were chirping and the smell of the trees filled my lungs, this was god’s country for sure.  I started to imagined throwing it all down and staying in the country forever and living off the land and turning to a life of the bush people, but quickly realised this was me I was referring to.  Though, I can’t stress enough the need for experiences like these, we need them, it does wonders for the soul.

We left that cabin that morning feeling happy, a little hungover, but happy.  We spent a great night in the woods with our family which had put an great big explanation point our trip home, so with all the goodbyes said, we took to the road and headed back to the city.

When we decided to go home for our vacation this year we had no idea what it would be like, but the one thing is for sure we are so glad we did.  The time was spent with family around us, chats of a time gone by and conversations of what’s to come.  I used to say  that home is relative to where you are, now I stand corrected.  Going home to where you were born and raised, you know, there’s a whole familiar feeling that starts to fall over you.  Of course you can make happiness anywhere you live in the world but spending a subtle moment to return to where it all began has proven for us that no matter what, home is still home.

A change in the air.

It’s the end of the summer of 2016 and already there is a change in the air, there ‘s a certain nip to the breeze, a indication that fall is around the corner.  I took to the bike yesterday and there was a different feel to the evening, it was a good different though for me, I like the fall and a fall in Newfoundland is like no other.  The leaves will soon change, the air smells extra clean, fresh and I seem to get the most inspired.  I can honestly say that the fall is my best time of the year, I just like the look and feel of everything.

The talk of vacations and travel plans start to dwindle and the Christmas chatter begins to make its way into conversations already with the first person to speak of them to be quickly shunned of course.  “It’s too early to talk of those things, didn’t you just get back from summer vacation?”.  That may be the case, but you know yourself that time flies and before you know it.  Just the other day I received my first Christmas party request for a work function, imagine the first of September and I now thinking about gifts.  (Switch topics)

I  took a walk just last night and the air was crisp and clean, it made me think of home and growing up, I thought of school nights spent playing with my friends trying to make the best out of the last days of summer that we had left.  September was upon us and we’d soon be packing book bags and lining up to get the best seat on the bus, dibs back row.  I asked my little nephew Dalton a couple weeks ago about school and before I had the words out of my mouth he goes “don’t even talk about uncle Ash”.  I had to laugh because I’ve been there and there no worst feeling than knowing the sands of the summer hour glass were quickly trickling away, I felt for him.

Speaking of school, my daughter is in town for her first year at university, yup, my little girl is about to start a new chapter in her life and she seems to be taking it all in stride.  She says she’s excited and I know she will be ok but I can only imagine what must be going through her mind.  Ashton, like me, will be coming from a small rural community and I remember it was intimidating to be finally on my own too but I never really felt like I was home sick or never capable of staying the course.  I guess with my friends being around and being that some of them were my room mates I felt a sense of security like there were pieces of home with me.  She will be rooming with a young lady that is also from her graduating class, so at least she will have a little sense of home with her as well. There’s a lot for her to experience and a time for her to start making her way through life, it will be full of obstacles but she is fully capable of taking care of herself.  I can only sit back and watch her become a woman, she will have to learn like we all do, she has a great mind on her shoulders so I confident she’s going to be just fine.  This is just another example of this time of year and the changes it brings with it, the fall is synonymous with beginnings from an academic perspective and this is just her’s, stay tuned.

Now if you not worried about school then maybe talks of the breakdown of patio sets or storing of pleasure boats fill the todo lists conversations. I was talking with a coworker the other day who was taking advantage of this last long weekend of the summer to winterise and lock down her cabin, probably the case for a lot this last hurrah of summer.  I’m sure there are many families tonight sharing the last of the campfire stories and roasting the final spider wiener with the warm season winding down to an end.  I’m glad my family and I had a chance the summer to eat by a fire and take in the beautiful summer night skies, we are lucky to be able to live here.

Nowadays a walk may require a coat, you could very well be rained on more often but this time of year for me is the best, I still like it the most.  Summer is cool but this time of year I tend to write more, I usually pick up reading again or at least have more time for it. Summer is busy, it seems like you always have to be doing something when the weather is good.  Cue September and something as simple a bbq has lost its luster because for the last three months it seems that’s all we’ve been eating, so I’m glad for the change.  Fall is rich in tone, it was my grandfathers favourite season too, he loved it, I remember vividly of the smell of freshly cut trees as he would saw the wood that was needed to fuel the stove for the colds nights to come.  The air would cut through me and the saw dust would get in my boots but there was something about that fragrance of autumn that made you feel good that you were alive, I miss my pop, but that moment makes me smile.

So, wrap your plants, school’s in, and I saw Halloween decorations just two days ago, summer may be over but it’s time to embrace the fall.  What do you like about the fall of the year, any memories come swarming back?, Any projects on your horizon?, leave a remark in the comments below and share.

 

 

I want to ride my bicycle…

Wow it’s been a long time since my last post, just needed the inspiration I guess and I have just the reason to start writing again.  Soooooo, I got a bike, yup for my birthday and since then I have been biking every chance I get since April, it’s become my new passion. As soon as I got on that bike I was instantly hooked, I was even mad at myself for not getting a bike sooner.  So far, having a bike is a plus for me on so many levels, keeps me fit, helps me de-stress and the big one is that I get to take advantage of being outside.  If you are looking to expand your horizons and your fitness portfolio I suggest taking up biking.

I’ve been using Map My Ride as my primary tracking app and it helps me keep a finger on the pulse of exactly how far I’ve gone and certainly a good gauge as to how long I expect my journey to last. The app keeps track of your workouts and I can say that it’s very satisfying knowing exactly what you accomplished.  Actually for me, the journey is the best part, you can go anywhere, no boundaries and all you need is a direction. There’s this trail way network that runs right along my neighbourhood in Mount Pearl, Newfoundland and I have been using that mostly so far as I am getting more and more experienced as a rider.  The  trail way can take you east and it can take to west and then some, there are quite a few attractions along the way and plenty to photograph.

I have been usually hitting about 30K each time I go slowly aiming to get further every time.  You would be surprised how far you are capable of going when you put your mind to it.  Most of the time I find myself not wanting to stop, there is so much to see and so many paths not taken that has continued to keep me curious as to where I will end up next.  

I see a lot of people using the trail way, there’s kids playing in playgrounds, people feeding the ducks, some the swans, there was even a group of people heading out for a canoe ride.  The pond was perfect for it and it looked like a lot of fun, they seemed to be enjoying it, it was beautiful on the water.

It was warm and I really had to focus to get going, the heat zapped my motivation pretty quick but I struggled through and it was ok once I concentrated on my pace. Hydration was key, I made sure to drink more to accommodate for the high temperatures and because I was sweating a lot more than usual I made sure to stay on top of my water intake.

One of the best parts of biking is the way it makes me feel, it’s like the kid in me that enjoys exploring the unknown just takes over and there’s no telling where I will end up.  I always wonder how far I would be capable of going if I really tried one day, the one thing I do know is that I intend to find out.  Anybody can ride a bike and I bet if you took a chance and gave it a shot you would agree, for those who already have biking in there arsenal I hope to see you out on the trails sometime, it’s fun ain’t it?

To close I intend to blog about my trips and I aim to challenge a few trail ways in my area.  I am going to make that a goal of mine for the summer and well into the fall.  I plan to document my excursions and post some pictures to diarize my accomplishments, you’re very welcome to virtually come along.

Happy trails

Ash