Book ReMarks

Harold N.
Harold N. Walters
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A Newfoundland Christmas

To start with, colour me stunned.

I was a dozen pages into ‘A Newfoundland Christmas’ (Pennywell Books) when I noticed a painting on the wall above the daybed. The text reads, ‘Sarah watched as the snow melted from her double-ball mitts’.

It took me a second or two to spot Sarah’s mitts on top of the stove’s warmer. I glanced across the page from the drip-drying mitts and eyed said painting.

“Hey,” I said to my stunned self, “that picture is called ‘Sisters’. My sister-in-law has that same painting on her dining room wall. What’s it doing in this book?”

Then being as much of a sleuth as Sherlock I checked the walls in other rooms in the book. Sure enough, there were several other vaguely familiar pictures – ‘For You’ and ‘The Gift’ on page 4, for instance.

Keen as the edge of the proverbial whetted knife, I did some two plus two-ing masterful deductive reasoning – tallied up and arrived at stunned.

“Silly me,” I said, since stunned was becoming a little frayed.

“Sure, Dawn Baker, the book’s author and illustrator, is the very same artist whose pictures hang on the walls.”

I deserve a smack, eh b’ys?

‘A Newfoundland Christmas’ is the story of Sarah and her brother Michael, a couple of youngsters from some generic upalong place whose Mom forces them to spend Christmas at Nan and Pop’s house in a Newfoundland outport.

Perish the thought!

When Sarah and her family arrive at Nan and Pop’s house, Nan is still fussing around with her Christmas baking but she does have a batch of sweet bread hot-from-the-oven on top of the stove, along with a pan of toutons.

An aside: Stunned me – in case you’ve forgotten – I’ve never been a lip-smacking fan of toutons but an inch-thick slab of that lassy bread slathered with humongous gobs of butter would be a yumlicious Christmas treat!

Shortly after the crack of dawn the next morning, Pop rousts Sarah and Michael out of bed and hustles them off into the woods to cut a real live Christmas tree. Which causes me a smidgen of concern.

I understand the idea of minimalism in art.

That’s a lie.

Actually, I’ve barely a notion about the concept of minimalism. I’d said that simply to sound smart, to compensate for my confessed stunness, but p’raps doing so only makes me sound stunner.

Nevertheless, on Page 5, we see Pop and the youngsters dragging a dandy tree home from the forest. I s’pose from the forest.

The illustration shows three isolated trees in the near distance, and although Pop and ’em appear to be coming from a woods to the rear, I fear tree-hugging zealots might accuse Pop of slaying the forth final tree in the forest.

You’re prob’ly saying, “Don’t be so stunned, b’y!”

Christmas Day, of course, has Christmas Dinner: ‘Besides turkey and dressing, they ate salt beef and vegetables, pease pudding and gravy, and figgy duff’.

Except for the salt beef and pease pudding, more yumlicious fare.

Try as I might, I can’t force down a forkful of pease pudding, not even shuffled with the back of a spoon. On the other hand – or fork, or spoon – serve me double helpings of figgy duff.

I feel no shame about my lack of completely traditional taste buds, but I do feel shame and inadequacy when I see Pop so handily carving the turkey. I’m much too clumsy to slice the crispy breast meat.

Here’s Missus’ mantra at our table at Christmas time – and Thanksgiving too, for that matter: “Harry, don’t you dare try to carve that turkey. You’ll only mogrify it.”

As its title states, ‘A Newfoundland Christmas’ is exactly that; a children’s story about a … well, a traditional Newfoundland Christmas with scoffs, jannies and music, church and a real Christmas tree; Christmas packages, sleigh and coaster rides; stocking-capped kittens and dogs.

Especially a big, black bear of a dog.

Look closely at the Newfoundland dog on Page 17. Zero in on his collar. Focus your attention on the initialed name tag fastened to the collar. See, it’s a capitol ‘B’.

I bet a loonie that ol’ bow-wow has a traditional Newfoundland doggy name.

I bet his name is Bo’sun.

Thank you for reading.

 

 

Geographic location: Newfoundland

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  • Paul James Chornoby
    December 16, 2011 - 22:30

    This is good