An Introduction to the Sea
Life and its always curious circumstances meant that our first child, a son, was born in Ontario instead of here on the island. While we tossed around a few options – including a scenario that had me heading back to ‘The Rock’ a few weeks before my due date – the logistics of perfectly timing a birth with hubby’s then very limited vacation time was simply too risky.
a little mainlander
There was no logical way around it; our child would have to be born upalong. As much as we wished it didn’t have to be, we were going to have ourselves a little mainlander.
But while I may have birthed the boy out of the bay, I knew in my heart of hearts that I could somehow remedy that birthplace tragedy with an early dose of dory and salt sea air. With that in mind, I knew where I had to spend the majority of my six months maternity leave and our lad was outport bound before he was six weeks old. The first nice day after we got home, dad geared up. Large for under two months old, Brody was packed up along side beef-bucket lunch pails and long-loved fishing gear.
Throughout the day on the water, Mom tended to my bundle of joy as I snapped a few pictures.
Looking back at those shots now, I can still feel the warmth of the joy and relief I felt on that day.
While leaving this place for school, work, and a “better life” was never seen as a bad thing to us before, having a child who would have to be Screeched-in to belong ripped at my heart.
Seeing my usually cross, often bawlin’ infant quietly taking it all in – the sights, the sounds and the wonder of life in a dory – made it all alright somehow. Maybe there was just enough Newfoundlander in him after all, I remember thinking to myself. The thought made me happy. While sluggin’ a nursing infant around for the day in a dory on the Atlantic might not be everyone’s cup of tea, it was certainly mine as all my “he’ll never be one of us” fears were tossed away by wind and waves as the sea eventually rocked my baby to sleep.
christening at sea
While I felt this was a key moment for my son – something that linked him to the land and the life of his parents – reality kicked in and before long we returned to our upalong Ontario lives. But again, life and its forever curious circumstances lead us back to that outport – to live this time – by the time my boy was six.
It didn’t matter that he couldn’t remember the last time we walked those beach-rock shores; he was home the moment he stepped foot outside the saltbox to chase a gang of boys down by the wharf. From that day on it was dirt-bikes, BB guns and rotting fish-gut-and-god-knows-what-else soaked hands. And it was glorious.
Maybe I needn’t have worried back then that my son would never be a true Newfoundlander. And perhaps hauling an infant out to sea wasn’t the best parenting call. And I’m open to the argument that his early sea-immersion wasn’t what helped my son feel at home in our outport years later. But then again, maybe there’s something to an early christening at sea.
Maybe, like introducing anything to a baby; from language to potty training, there’s a critical time for root-setting. Whatever it is, I’d like to think that salt sea Newfoundland air, inhaled at just the right time and age, sealed the deal when it came to him becoming an honourary Newfoundlander – no bawlin’ or Screech-ins required.