Thursday, September 01, 2005

Petty Thoughts


I don't have a lot of memories of Petty Harbour but the ones I had, I thought were my own. I recall getting juice from Herbie’s, in those little plastic bottles with the foil lids and when you were done drinking them, you could pick blueberries near the house and fill them right up to the top. I remember the blueberry bushes weren't big but grew on a rock face that was almost vertical - I had to reach up to get to some, not bend over like you normally would do. I remember swatting dragonflies with sticks and picking them up by their wings and putting them on the steps of the school. Yet, somehow, my sister-in-law was familiar with all of this because my brother, Chris had related the same stories. This bothered me for some time. I told myself that maybe I was just thinking of one afternoon in particular and we were there together on that day and did the same things. I doubt that. Did Chris memorize my telling of these things? More likely, Chris told them to me and I filed them away as my own. I can even remember walking on the large water conduit (a large pipeline following the road down into the harbour - it may actually have been what is known as a wood stave penstock and have been part of the small hydro electric generating station) and, though I remember it leaking and providing misty sprays, what I really recall is tripping on the ridges and even hurting my hand on one occasion after falling on a joint or a seam and landing clumsily - I even remember Dave yelling at me to go home because if Mom found out I was up there, he would be in trouble. Now here I assume this to be fantasy, after all there was no way a three-year-old could get on top of that thing and walk on it, so that must obviously be an assimilated memory from Mike, Dave or Chris.

Strange isn't it?

Another thing I recall is driving home, sitting on Mom's lap, while Dad drove (the Nova? Dodge Dart? Some kind of Dodge?) and I was crying. Mom was trying to console me and I stopped. Not because of Mom bouncing me, but because I just remember staring at that same wooden flume as we drove down to Petty Harbour and being kind of mesmerized by the effect of watching its ribbed ridges rolling by (like the wagon wheel effect, where something moving quickly can appear to strobe). It was winter or late spring because there were little patches of snow everywhere. Not only do I remember that, but I remember I had a cast on my arm, which wasn't itchy or anything, but my coat sleeve was tightly pulled on over it. The coat was like a little trench coat and it was a funny green, and it had a matching hat. I liked the hat because it looked like Robin Hood's cap. But all of that would've happened when I was two years old (and a bit). Is it possible I remembered all of that? Or is it more likely, that I've been told I had my arm in a cast, and I'd seen a picture of myself in that coat, and that the drive down to Petty Harbour took place much later on some return errand with Dad, when I was 5 or 7 or 8 or something? Or did I dream the whole thing? Was it an amalgam of scraps that my mind pasted together from a photo, a story, a drive on a Sunday?

I guess you never know. The image in my mind of the rectory where we lived is mostly from the photo we used to have at the bottom of the stairs. That and the view out from the porch. Another memory I may or may not have is of sitting on the front step with the door open, and Mom coming out to say, "In or out? You can't sit there with the door open. Flies and buzzy things will get in." then she made a sort of buzzing noise like a bee as I got up and went inside.

I guess it doesn't matter if it's real or not. It's not like I'm sitting in court being cross examined on the accuracy of my mother's insect impersonations. It's a nice memory or thought and I'm glad to have it.

Updated with corrections November 28, 2016. An earlier version referred to the wooden pipeline as supplying water to the fish plant rather than actually being the flume providing water to the hydro-electric station.

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