The Danger Tree: A Review
I’ve just finished reading David Macfarlane’s book ‘The Danger Tree’. Unexpectedly, I found it incredibly touching and emotive. Why ‘unexpectedly’? Well, books rarely have much of a long lasting effect on me emotionally, aside from an occasional buildup of suspense during the development of the plot, or sometimes a chuckle when I find something humorous. But this book is different. This is about where I am from; about my homeland.
The book tells the tale of the Goodyear family of Grand Falls, and points beyond, around the Bay. At first I thought the story was a work of fiction set in a framework of historical accuracy, written by a Newfoundlander. I was well into it before I realized that this was a personal account of several generations of a very real family, written by a mainlander! The tale took on a whole new seriousness after that epiphany. In fact, in some instances I went back through passages I’d already read and was rewarded with a deeper appreciation for just what Macfarlane was writing.
For anyone interested in an account of life in Newfoundland that encompasses the turn of the 20th Century, the First and Second World Wars, Confederation and the years following, this story is a great start! It was however Macfarlane’s description of the suffering in and out of the trenches of France that pulled at me. His words describe in no uncertain terms the futility, stupidity and complete waste of life, limb and mind that war most certainly is. He discusses also how the loss at Beaumont Hamel of so many of Newfoundland’s finest young men, affected the Nation [of Newfoundland]. I have often pondered this myself, how has the tragedy affected our relatives and homes, and our economic development? They had so much potential stolen away from them by the stupidity of mankind. We may have had great leaders, great minds, but we'll never know! I can’t reflect for too long on these thoughts without feeling a mixture of deep sadness and burning anger at the insanity that grips humanity over and over and over again!
In respect to David Macfarlane’s work and certainly to the sacrifice made by those involved in the many conflicts Newfoundlanders & Labradoreans (as we are now termed) have been thrust into, I’m making available for download, a song I recorded in the fall of 2015.
“Leaving the Lovely Young Ladies” is my heartfelt yet woefully inadequate tribute to all those affected by military conflict, then and now, as told through the eyes of a Blue Puttee.
Well, as I sit here today, I'm packing my bags for another stint in Quebec. I'm reflecting on Father's Day over the years and face it with pride and sorrow. Pride for the feelings I have for my children and all that they mean to me as a father, and also sorrow for the knowledge of what's been lost to time; my own father, my grandfathers, the many people who have helped me along the way to become who I am. To all of those I am truly grateful. You've shown me how to be a Dad. I hope that somewhere along the line my own son and daughters can be as heartfelt fathers (and mothers!) as they can be.
HAPPY FATHER'S DAY !!
In light of this occasion, here's a song I wrote in the days following Dermot O'Reilley's passing some years ago. For those who don't know, he was a much loved singer songwriter from Ireland who made his home in Newfoundland, and lived only a few kilometers from our home.
I did not know Dermot well, but did have a few drinks with he and his bandmates in 'Ryan's Fancy' over the years in pubs in Labrador and on the Island.
One of his songs, 'West Country Lady' is a standard in the local music scene and is also one I learned to play, and would often sing to my kids around the table as we hung out in our kitchen.
The past several weeks have been time consuming. There's been work, trips to Newfoundland, moving, illnesses, worries, concerns, ups, downs, unease, and a myriad of other external forces working at odds that have slowed down my creative spark. I am struggling to regain it through music practice and am now planning the next Downhome illustration. Maybe I'll even finish this song I've been trying to write. (Whine, whine, whine I know!). I have thankfully kept with the 'exploring Quebec' portion of my Levis agenda so I'll pop on a few pics that (however so crudely, by expert standards) capture the moment .
I'll drive to a part of the city I've never been and then walk for a few hours. This is on the Quebec side and looking downriver towards Levis. These horse sculptures each depict some aspect of life in the region and are enhanced with coloured paints. Is it only a coincidence that they appear to be running directly towards Newfoundland I wonder?