The following article originally appeared as part of a series titled "Down Home" in the
Newfoundland Signal (published in Toronto) on March 18, 1977. In those days the author spent her summers
on Red Island with her husband Denis and their daughter Krista. Reprinted by permission.
RED ISLAND, Placentia Bay -- Today we walked to the Sand Pond for our first swim of
the year. The Sand Pond is the place to swim on Red Island, and it takes its name from the red
granite "sand" beach along its northern shore.
The pond is located a mile or so inland, along a path that winds its way up hills which give you breathtaking views of the surrounding ocean, and down into valleys carpeted with blue flags and scarlet pitcher plants.
When Krista was a bit younger, we would walk along looking behind the bushes for Red Riding Hood or Goldilocks and the Three Bears. But now when I suggest this game, she says, " You're only fooling me, there's nobody there." (Isn't it sad when they start to grow up?)
The path is seldom travelled now and is overgrown with alders, some of which are eight feet high. And when you can't push your way through, you make little detours across the barrens and rejoin the path farther on.
In places where the alders have not yet taken hold, you can often pick wild fruit in abundance. In July there are blackberries; in August, raspberries; and in September and October you find fat, juicy blueberries.
In the fall and winter, the men set rabbit snares along this path, and the dog runs ahead of us now, turning off from time to time to investigate a "run". Then we push through the last bunch of alders, and suddenly see the pond - a solitary sapphire nestled in a bed of deep green.
Krista shatters the stillness instantly, shouting to the dog and racing along the sand, peeling off her clothes as she goes. I spread out the old quilt and set the lunch in the shade, and Din rigs his trout pole and gets out his matchbox full of worms.
Krista splashes and squeals that "It's COLD!!!" and tries to get the dog and I to come in with her. I dabble my feet a bit and wade out to my knees, and then give it up and go gathering wood to make a fire.
Din comes back with ten or eleven trout on a forked twig and starts the fire while I lay out the food. He fills the camp kettle in the brook and the fire sisses as the drops run down the sides of the can. When the water boils, he drops in three teabags and sets it on a flat stone to steep.
The best part of the meal are the big slabs of homemade bread toasted over the coals and slathered with butter. We wash it down with cup after cup of strong hot tea, and Din tells me about the school picnics they used to have here at the pond every 24th of May:
"We weren't allowed to go swimming that early in the year, of course, but we'd be playing soccer on the beach and somebody would always manage to kick the ball into the water. Then he'd have to go in after it, and somebody else would have to go and help him, and pretty soon we'd all end up out there."
I don't know where the time goes, but all too soon the sun is setting and we have to go. We douse the fire carefully, call the dog from her bird-chasing, and regretfully turn to leave.