When, in the middle of August, you need to light up the wood stove to warm your feet, there’s snow at 2000 feet, and an iceberg floats by your cabin window, you know that you’re in an unusual place.
A close encounter with a caribou on a hiking trail, meeting a traditional carver of stone and bone, and eating cod caught a few hours earlier by the restaurant owner’s two young sons add to the pleasant surprises. But the most remarkable thing about Newfoundland are the stories.
Every local we meet seems to have a trove of stories, freely mixing what some Viking did a thousand years ago with what they ate for breakfast. And every place, remarkable though it may be on its own terms, comes packaged with intertwined history, myths, and legends,
Beyond the island in front of our lodging in York Harbour was the Blow Me Down Mountain (650 m). Its name comes from the story in which Captain Messervey in 1771 anchored his boat below the range and said “I hope they don’t blow me down!” To this day it’s famous for its powerful winds that blow in every direction at once. It’s also known as an amphitheater that amplifies the sound of thunder. I heard stories of walkers fleeing in terror when Thor seemed to go on a rampage.
There have been at least 17 communities that share the odd name of Blow Me Down, not to mention mountains, mountain ranges, parks, and other geographical objects.
We took a walk through Blow Me Down Provincial Park nearby, which generated some personal stories to add to the corpus. The trail was beautiful, but a bit of a workout, because of the mud and running water from a recent storm. My activity tracker thought it was more than 100 floors up.