|Juniper berries growing around Keels. Photo: Kristin Catherwood|
|Partridge berries, known as lingonberries in other locales, are|
a Newfoundland favourite. Photo: Kristin Catherwood
I'm currently reading Strange Terrain: The Fairy World in Newfoundland by Barbara Rieti, which resulted from her PhD thesis in Folklore at MUN. Many of the stories in her book centre around strange experiences in the woods when out picking berries or doing other important tasks like cutting wood or hay, or tending gardens. This was another part of Newfoundland culture of which I had no knowledge before arriving here: the pervasiveness of folk belief in fairies and other elements of the supernatural, though this belief is apparently mostly a thing of the past.
|A thicket of an unidentified berry, possibly marsh berries,|
overlooking Keels harbour. Photo: Kristin Catherwood
Any map of Newfoundland will show clearly that most of the settlement in the province was along the coast because of, you guessed it, the fishery. But Newfoundlanders' lives were influenced just as much by the woods and bogs at their backs as they were by the sea in front of them. Fairy stories (not to be confused with fairy tales) are often indicative of the awe, and sometimes fear, the woods inspired in those who dwelt near them. You just never knew when an afternoon of berry-picking might get you "into the fairies."
|An expedition to pick berries could take one into "strange terrain." Who knows|
what could be around the bend. Photo: Kristin Catherwood