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Letter to the editor: A place to call 'home'

Letter to the editor
Letter to the editor

"A place belongs forever to whoever claims it hardest, remembers it most obsessively, wrenches it from itself, shapes it, renders it, loves it so radically that he remakes it in his own image." Joan Didion

I once heard someone say that if you could succinctly characterize a relationship - if you could eloquently put into words why it works or why it matters so much to you - it wouldn't be an affair of the heart. Some feelings just can't be described adequately with words, because words are not enough, but I'll try.

It's funny how a person can come to love a place - a piece of land or a town or a small geographical area or a province or a country. I genuinely love, with all of my heart and soul, the area of Earth known as the Labrador Straits. I love how I feel when I'm there; like the craziness of the world can't touch me. I truly feel like it is one of the last great, untouched, unspoiled places on Earth. When I'm there, I'm not worried about anything. The stress evaporates and the load I'm carrying feels lighter. I love to walk up on "the Cape" behind my grandmother's house and look out over the town. I love going to the old house in L'anse au Loup, looking around and feeling my grandparents' presence there.

I am not "from" the Labrador Straits. I was not born there. I did not grow up there. My father was born and raised in L'anse au Loup, my mother in Lourdes de Blanc Sablon. Dad was an RCMP officer, but most of his career was spent on the island of Newfoundland. So mom and dad would take my sister and I there every summer when we were growing up, and it was during these formative years that I grew to really look forward to those visits. As a young adult, I made a few trips on my own in the spring to do some snowmobiling and ice fishing. I've travelled a little and I've never seen anything quite as breathtaking. It really is an incredible place.

I have my own family now and I live far away in Ottawa. We just had a family reunion in L'anse au Loup in July, and I was reminded (as I always am when I visit) of why I feel so strongly for this area. The scenery is fantastic. Absolutely amazing. The food is incredible. However, the real charm of the place lies with the people. Maybe that's a bit cliché, but the people are incredible. They are genuinely warm, friendly, charming and honest. They are happy to see you and they ask you how your trip "home" is going, even though they know it's not really YOUR home. They care and it's obvious. It's very endearing.

When at the community centre in L'anse au Loup last month, I sat and spoke a few minutes with an older man and his wife who I don't know very well, but he knew my grandmother well and he knew my aunt, who recently died. He was so genuinely happy to sit and speak to me. He told me so, and I could see in his eyes that he meant it. It was a powerful moment, and one that I won't soon forget.

All of my trips home are like that. There are always those little moments of brilliance that I add to my memory bank. Every year, I always have a worry in the back of my mind that maybe this time something will happen that will ruin it for me. I'm always a little concerned that someone will be rude or say something that will stick in my mind and sour the taste of this place I call home. That never happens. I don't think it ever will. The place is what it appears to be: warm, welcoming and unpretentious. Therein lies its charm.

When I come back to the rat race that is life in Ottawa, I am constantly reminded of the way life is in the Straits. I think about it every day. I'm always thinking about when I'm going to get back there, and how I might be able to get there sooner. I hope nothing ever changes in the way nothing has really changed there throughout my life. A place so perfect needs no changes. I am lucky to have roots there and I'm lucky to be able to call it my own.

Steve O'Brien writes from Ottawa, Ont.

 

Send your letters to the editor to:

info@northernpen.ca

Or directly to Editor Melissa Jenkins at: melissa.jenkins@tc.tc

I once heard someone say that if you could succinctly characterize a relationship - if you could eloquently put into words why it works or why it matters so much to you - it wouldn't be an affair of the heart. Some feelings just can't be described adequately with words, because words are not enough, but I'll try.

It's funny how a person can come to love a place - a piece of land or a town or a small geographical area or a province or a country. I genuinely love, with all of my heart and soul, the area of Earth known as the Labrador Straits. I love how I feel when I'm there; like the craziness of the world can't touch me. I truly feel like it is one of the last great, untouched, unspoiled places on Earth. When I'm there, I'm not worried about anything. The stress evaporates and the load I'm carrying feels lighter. I love to walk up on "the Cape" behind my grandmother's house and look out over the town. I love going to the old house in L'anse au Loup, looking around and feeling my grandparents' presence there.

I am not "from" the Labrador Straits. I was not born there. I did not grow up there. My father was born and raised in L'anse au Loup, my mother in Lourdes de Blanc Sablon. Dad was an RCMP officer, but most of his career was spent on the island of Newfoundland. So mom and dad would take my sister and I there every summer when we were growing up, and it was during these formative years that I grew to really look forward to those visits. As a young adult, I made a few trips on my own in the spring to do some snowmobiling and ice fishing. I've travelled a little and I've never seen anything quite as breathtaking. It really is an incredible place.

I have my own family now and I live far away in Ottawa. We just had a family reunion in L'anse au Loup in July, and I was reminded (as I always am when I visit) of why I feel so strongly for this area. The scenery is fantastic. Absolutely amazing. The food is incredible. However, the real charm of the place lies with the people. Maybe that's a bit cliché, but the people are incredible. They are genuinely warm, friendly, charming and honest. They are happy to see you and they ask you how your trip "home" is going, even though they know it's not really YOUR home. They care and it's obvious. It's very endearing.

When at the community centre in L'anse au Loup last month, I sat and spoke a few minutes with an older man and his wife who I don't know very well, but he knew my grandmother well and he knew my aunt, who recently died. He was so genuinely happy to sit and speak to me. He told me so, and I could see in his eyes that he meant it. It was a powerful moment, and one that I won't soon forget.

All of my trips home are like that. There are always those little moments of brilliance that I add to my memory bank. Every year, I always have a worry in the back of my mind that maybe this time something will happen that will ruin it for me. I'm always a little concerned that someone will be rude or say something that will stick in my mind and sour the taste of this place I call home. That never happens. I don't think it ever will. The place is what it appears to be: warm, welcoming and unpretentious. Therein lies its charm.

When I come back to the rat race that is life in Ottawa, I am constantly reminded of the way life is in the Straits. I think about it every day. I'm always thinking about when I'm going to get back there, and how I might be able to get there sooner. I hope nothing ever changes in the way nothing has really changed there throughout my life. A place so perfect needs no changes. I am lucky to have roots there and I'm lucky to be able to call it my own.

Steve O'Brien writes from Ottawa, Ont.

 

Send your letters to the editor to:

info@northernpen.ca

Or directly to Editor Melissa Jenkins at: melissa.jenkins@tc.tc

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