“Last home on the right,” I tell visitors when, upon arriving on the McCallum wharf, they ask where my house is at. But even I don’t find my home that easy to get to.
Just getting on and off the ferry is tricky for me. I know it is second nature for my neighbours, but I’m still not used to it. When I’m passing parcels onboard, I’m scared I’ll slip between the boat and the bumpers. Anybody who’s ever seen me do such work can tell I’m terrified at low tide.
Wherever I am on the wharf, I have to be careful. I need to remind myself, that ferry carries cargo that requires craning. The best thing for me is to give a quick wave to the boys on the boat, say hello to friends awaiting freight, and then try to get my big butt out of harm’s way.
Something I never quite consider, while walking away from the wharf, is how long it’ll be before I touch land again. That’s an interesting thing about McCallum’s boardwalk – it’s built so well, with buildings on both sides, I’m convinced I’m on land. But it actually runs a lengthy distance over water - past the fisheries wharf, a house, general store, post office, and several sheds, before it finally hits a hill.
But what a hill it hits. Up and down. I grab the railing and dig into the cleats below, all the while carrying whatever small goods I’m bringing back. I sneak a peek at some stacked firewood, and grab a glimpse to see if anyone is coming down the steep road to my right – a road I often take when searching for food and friendship (we call our boardwalks, ‘roads’). Then I turn my attention to seeing if the men lazing ‘round the slip are trying to tease me, or if any of the women working in their yards, have a second or two to talk.
I turn left. To go right would take me to some great places (to dear friends, the community centre, or a hike on the hill) but such a direction heads away from my house. So it’s past a dog that hates me, several lovely homes, colourful sheds, a busy bed and breakfast, piled lobster pots, some beautiful boats, yards full of fun folk art, and gorgeous gardens. All nicely placed before a backdrop of granite and green, as seen from a boardwalk that is now clearly out over the water again, where everything sweetly smells of seaweed. At this point on my journey, it’s common for me to imagine how challenging it must have been to get around this community, before boardwalks.
Then it’s up another killer bridge, between some attractive trees, and around a curvy corner, before I catch a close-up of my home sitting high on the hill. It’s not the biggest house, nor the cutest or best cared for. But it’s mine, it’s paid for, and I love it.
But getting to my home – “on the Labrador side of town,” my buddy teases me - is not always easy. Like the day my new washer, dryer, fridge, stove and freezer arrived on the ferry. If not for the help of my friends and family, those appliances would still be sitting on the wharf. Because nothing of substantial size – and that includes me - makes its way across McCallum, without significant support from others.