I’m writing this piece on Labour Day, a time to relax and enjoy a break from the daily grind of earning your keep in the modern world.
For most of us, that means some sort of eight-hour-per-day job, whether it be shuffling through papers in an office, operating equipment, meeting clients of one type or another, preparing food, hammering nails or some sort of repetitive routine.
Many folks, I’m sure, have jobs that pose novel challenges each and every day, and maybe they are the lucky ones. Then again, there must be tons of stress associated with that kind of gig as well.
We all can’t be rock stars, movie tycoons or travelling food critics. No matter what endeavour pays for our dinner, or regardless of how intrinsically rewarding it may be, we all need a break from routine and work life.
There was a time, not that long ago, when common workers had precious little in the way of leisure time. Twelve-hour days and toiling six days a week was not unusual. We should be thankful for the labour movement that gave the average working Joe a decent life. I should have said this in last weekend’s paper, but better late than not at all.
Many of us choose to spend our free time doing activities in the outdoors. You guys and gals are the reason I get to write this column. For me, writing and outdoor photography is a wonderful distraction from my regular day job. And I can justify spending even more time outdoors doing things so I can write about them.
It’s in the doing
I can’t find the exact quote right now, but Ernest Hemingway said something about there not being a whole lot to writing. Rather it’s the doing something to write about that presents the real challenge. That’s absolutely true, I think. An English professor who never left the city and never felt the pull of a mighty fish could not have written “The Old Man and the Sea.”
Never think of time spent on adventure and travel as wasted. Nobody wishes on their deathbed that they had spent more time manicuring the lawn or dusting the furniture. When you have time off work, get out there and do something.
Adventures can be big or small, take you to faraway lands or provide a fresh look at your own backyard. I don’t mean literally your tiny plot of grass behind the house. Depending on your perspective on the world, you might call the Avalon Peninsula your backyard, or maybe the whole island.
The more you get out there and explore, the bigger your backyard gets. Labour Day, or any other holiday for that matter, even a plain old weekend, is opportunity to break away from routine and enjoy life with friends and family.
I find myself, on Labour Day, often torn between conflicting passions. Let’s see, there’s those fat sea trout just starting to move back into the estuaries from their summer of feeding in the bays. A few hours chasing those would certainly be time well spent. I think I might squeeze in a few hours along the Conception Bay South shore later this evening. And the regular brook trout fishing season is just about to close.
It’s a great time to catch one last fry of those pink-bellied culinary delights. I did that last night and fried trout for breakfast this morning. Served with golden brown toast, blueberry jam, and strong black coffee, there’s no better start to the day.
My whole family loves blueberries. I eat at least a half cup every morning with breakfast. My six-month-old granddaughter, Rory, loves them blended with plain Greek yogurt.
Labour Day is a great time to stock up on those wild nutritious treats. They’re a super-food you know, and free for the picking all over our fair land. What a great way to spend an afternoon with the whole family. Sandwiches and soda, or a boilup would go nicely with that.
There’s something magical about the taste of wild blueberries that the farmers haven’t managed to unravel. I’m always disappointed with the taste of supermarket berries, no matter how appealing they appear to the eye. I’m going to squeeze in a gallon of berries before having a go at the sea trout.
All manner of hunting adventures are peeping at us from just around the corner. Moose hunting opens throughout much of Newfoundland in early September, as does upland game and waterfowl. Moose on the Avalon and rabbit hunting starts up in early October.
Scouting for game is an ideal Labour Day pursuit. Scouting often is the pivotal element between a full or empty freezer. Moose are preparing for the rut and generally easier to locate this time of year. If you spend some time in the woods now, you’ll know just where to look when opening day comes.
Early September is also an opportune time to explore the ponds and gullies for ducks. If there are waterfowl frequenting a pond now, they also might likely be there when the sky lightens on opening morning. Waterfowl scouting tandems perfectly with bagging that last catch of mud trout. I’ve done this many times over the years, spending a whole day meandering around my backyard looking for ducks while trouting at the same time.
My old buddy Clyde Collins from Champney’s East and I religiously did this every Labour Day weekend for all the years I lived in Port Rexton. Travelling from pond to pond by canoe, we’d invariably enjoy a couple of boil-ups and a fry of freshly caught trout. In those years, I ran a beaver trap line and Clyde and I would also take note of what the beavers had been up to over the summer.
Those are days I will always treasure. By paddle and foot, we’d cover many miles in a day and I’d arrive home very tired, but full of anticipation for my favourite time of year: autumn.
I hope you all had a safe and outdoorsy Labour Day weekend.
Paul Smith, a native of Spaniard’s Bay, fishes and wanders the outdoors at every
opportunity. He can be contacted at