Spring, Sprang, Sprung
This is the first day of Spring and surprise, surprise – we are in the “throws” of yet another snowstorm here in Newfoundland. Thankfully, while the remainder of North American’s look forward to April showers and the hope of May flowers, we remain unperturbed, for Newfoundland’s spring season promises a very different celebration.
While we arm ourselves with shovels, plows and blowers, many members of our fishing community are currently “on d’ h’ice” and are “at the swiles” – so while we dig through the snow, we console ourselves with thoughts of their return and the bounty of fresh seal “flippers” we’ll enjoy. The delectable gastronome of rich, delicately layered strings of protein that renewed our energies and provided much needed sustenance to our depleted winter stores. Though far less important in these times of refrigeration and modern transportation, years ago this would represent the first form of fresh meat that Newfoundlanders would have seen in months, and we still celebrate accordingly.
The first week of April marks the beginning of our snow crab fishery and every port in the province bustles with anticipation for this highly lucrative bounty and the resource base it has come to represent for the island’s entire economy. It also introduces a brilliant palette of colours to our coastal communities as thousands of bright red pots are stacked on every wharf, boats are freshly painted, and hard working faces beam with ruddy grins and rosy cheeks.
Icebergs have started to dot the coastline and despite the prayers of the fishing folks who hope that it won’t interfere with the start of Lobster season, guests and landlubbers will marvel at the spectacle of a frozen sea that stretches from horizon to horizon. Made that much more intriguing when dotted with pupping seals.
Gannets are the first seabirds that return to Newfoundland, arriving on St. Patrick’s Day if you can believe that. Soon afterwards they will be joined by a multitude of additional breeds whose migration forces them ashore for the nesting season; after all – eggs don’t float.
Ice fishing on our inland waters continue though to the middle of April and with the abundance of snow on the west coast, we’ll likely be riding snowmobiles in the mountains until May 24 weekend. Just in time for “trouting season” to begin again, along with Salmon angling.
And finally, at long last, our winter officially draws to a close.
With an extra half hour in our time zone you would have to expect everything to arrive a little later in Newfoundland; and spring is no exception. The warmth of a June sun lulls the leaves as they cautiously unfold into playful tinges of “Kelly greens”. Tulips, whose buds first appeared in May, sometimes pushing through blankets of latent snow pack, finally present their delicate blooms. And then suddenly, like a coiled snake, every flower, leaf, blade, and petal; every scent and every colour, all come bursting forth in unison. Dandelions, lilacs, wild rhododendron, iris’, blue bells, and every other flower you might associate with spring emerge as one – making me wonder why we Newfoundlanders don’t call it “Sprung”.