Our blessed country

Ed Smith
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We spent 24 hours at Canada Day celebrations.

Sunday night we watched the Springdale town fireworks display. As usual, it was excellent, just as good as any we've seen anywhere else in the province, including St. John's.

Some people think we shouldn't be using our tax dollars for such "trivia." I couldn't disagree more. Most of us here have great pride in our town. The marvelous fireworks puts the icing on the cake — a tangible sign of our pride in Springdale.

Monday we went up to the Pentecostal church parking lot for another form of celebration hosted by the church. Food galore from different organizations around town, games, rides in the town fire truck for the kiddies and a chance to meet people we haven't seen in a dog's age. Many hundreds of people present. I had two tubs of fish and brewis for lunch.

Then we had planned to go to King's Point, 20 minutes ride from here, to join their celebrations and have supper — more fish and brewis, I'm afraid. There's always something going on in King's Point. Most active little town I know for their population. But just as we were getting on board the van, the heavens opened up and it poured for some time.

We had thunder and lightning to beat the band. Sounded like the drums were the size of the black clouds overhead. Even had hail. What a celebration it's been of Canada Day!

Sorry to upset you people on the east coast, and St. John's especially, but summer so far has been delicious. We've had a little rain but most days in June have been sunny and warm. Even our thundershowers have been welcome for the dry forests.

So, now you're waiting for the "but," right? Something to give this so far very dry column a kick, right? OK, here it is.

I have not exaggerated anything in this column one iota. Sorry. Met a nice young fellow named Jason at the church grounds who said he was from Paradise.

"Oh no," I said, as gently as I could. "Look around you. This is Paradise."

Sorry, pastor, but I wasn't just talking about the church. I have loved this community, its people and the surrounding area for the 40 years we have lived here. We came intending to stay only two years.

If you had been watching Indian River and West Brook for the last couple of days, you would have seen salmon jumping like there was no tomorrow.

I talked son into trying for a fish a couple of weeks ago before the run had really begun. Before he hooked into a salmon, I thought he should learn to tie a fly properly, choose the right leader and learn how to present the fly to where you think a salmon might be lying. That's not to mention the time it takes to learn to play a fighting Atlantic salmon properly and land it. I gave him the benefit of my experience just as I had learned it from my father, a fisherman par excellence.

He was gone at dawn with our friend from across the street, likewise an expert fisherman. They were back before too long.

"We saw only one fish, it being really early in the season," son said — and then reaching behind him, "and here it is!"

He proudly held up a shiny Atlantic salmon just a couple of millimetres below being too large to keep. Neither our friend nor I will hear the end of that for some time.

The only explanation is that his grandfather was looking down from somewhere "up there" and shouting at him as he used to shout at me.

"Keep your rod up, my son, or you're going to lose that salmon." And louder still, "Keep your rod up!"

They were close, those two, and I think somehow Rob must have heard him.

Indian River is a great place to teach a new fisherman because the pools below the falls and along the length of the river are so easy to reach and fish. Lots of room in the adjacent trailer park for trailers, too. (Sorry for the advertisement — just had to do it.)

What I began to write about, and then as usual got sidetracked, was how blessed a thing it is to be celebrating this fantastic province in this fantastic country. A nation right up there with Norway, Sweden, Denmark, New Zealand and perhaps one or two others as being the best countries in the world in which to live. In our minds, of course, we are at the top of the list.

The U.S. thinks of us as a socialist country one step removed from fascism, despite our somewhat better record of infant mortality and overall life expectancy. So, we wait a little longer for health-care services — tell OH and me about it — but we wouldn't change our system for any other on Earth, and especially that of the U.S. It isn't perfect but it's ours and it's better.

One thinks of Syria, Greece, Italy, Spain and several others (Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan, among others, are givens in this litany of undesirables at the moment) as places where celebrating or criticizing your nation isn't exactly a healthy thing to do. Our hearts go out to those people in Syria especially who are being slaughtered indiscriminately because they dare to criticize and rebel against their government.

So cheer for our country, you people, every day of the year because we can without being imprisoned.

So fly our flag, you people, every day of the year because we can without being shot.

So celebrate our freedoms with fireworks and dancing and song, because we can without jeopardizing the welfare of our neighbours and loved ones.

A line from Charles Dickens, through his character Tiny Tim, would seem appropriate, at least to me:

"God bless us, every one."


Ed Smith is an author who lives in Springdale.  His email address is edsmith@nf.sympatico.ca.

Organizations: Pentecostal church

Geographic location: Springdale, St. John's, Indian River West Brook U.S. Syria Norway Sweden Denmark New Zealand Greece Italy Spain Iraq Iran Afghanistan

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