When Dearest Duck and I pull out of our driveway and point our noses for Carbonear we drive “Out the Bay."
Harold N. Walters
From our place of abode in the GPA (Greater Placentia Area), Carbonear and its neighbours are all out the bay.
We’ve been going out the bay since before automobiles universally hauled themselves along with front wheel drive. Our first car was an Austin America, a weird car in 1970 because it had FWD.
In winter, snow tires were installed only on the front wheels and our little car, although bigger than Mr. Bean’s, was the subject of highway mockery because, said friends and neighbours scornfully, it clawed its way along snow-covered roads like “a pussy cat burying whoopsie,” or words to that effect.
To further flay a failing cayuse, my Duck and I have been driving out the bay since long before huge paved parking lots offered plenty of spacious areas to leave one’s automobile safely unattended while one shops until the last nickels of pension cheques are spent.
“Harry, my civic-minded love,” said Dearest Duck, the butter in my buttercup. “You are going to speak about it, are you?”
I knew the “it” so answered, “Yes, my Duck, I must.”
“Well, be nice about it,” said Dearest Duck.
“Am I ever not?” said I.
Rambling on in slap-dash manner — Bay Roberts, Spaniard’s Bay, Harbour Grace, Carbonear and their environs have been part of our lives since, as my long departed daddy used to say, “Since Adam was a cowboy; since the Devil was an oakum picker.”
“Harry, get on with it. And why mention buffalo in your title? You’re not out on the range.”
Oh, get to the point, eh b’ys?
The latter part of May, I was sitting in the car on the Trinity Conception Square parking lot. Dearest Duck was inside shopping for a fancy dress to wear to a couple of inevitable summer weddings. Earlier she’d banished me to the car because — and she said this aloud, with an exclamation mark, to shame me in a store — “Harry, you’re not helping!”
There were signs that winter might be over. The sky was a vivid sky-blue, not a common sight. The wind was not node-east. It was brisk westerly, nippy enough to raise blisters on the winter-white legs of misguided folks wearing short pants, folks who assume sunshine means heat.
At any rate, I was sitting in the car, peering hither and yon, and thinking about buffalo.
In Socratic fashion, I sought to know myself.
“Why,” I wondered, “am I thinking of buffalo?”
I studied the parking lot.
I studied the parking lot some more.
I spotted the buffalo.
Big lie. There wasn’t a buffalo to be seen on the asphalt prairie.
The parking lot wasn’t stogged with automobiles but it was three-parts filled with SUVs and Alberta trucks and assorted family sedans, or whatever. I can barely tell a Chevy from a Ford, or a long defunct Austin America, for that matter.
Like some ol’ toked-up hippy seeking The Truth, I realized I was studying the spaces among the parked machines.
That’s when I truly spotted the buffalo.
They were hiding — kinda — among the trucks and cars.
I’m talking about shopping carts, not buffalo.
Here. There. Between cars. Nudging bumpers. Leaning against light poles. Nosed down in a nearby boggy depression like buffalo drinking from … well, from a buffalo wallow.
I thought this thought: Those shopping carts abandoned by — dare I say lazy? — shoppers, reminded me of the last of the buffalo herds, the final scattered remains of the bison hordes after greedy hunters had blasted the herds to the brink of extinction.
One or two carts lay on their sides, tipped over, capsized, lying motionless with their wheels stuck out like the stiffened legs of slaughtered buffalo.
While I sat in the car, the aforementioned westerly breeze turned into a livin’ gale.
Spooked by the wind, one angry cart, one vengeful buffalo commenced to roll, to trot, to eventually charge full-gallop, sharp horns pointed forward, headfirst into the door panel of a spanking new pickup truck.
“Harry,” said Dearest Duck, pounding on the door for me to open the car.
Sadly, abandoned shopping carts are more characteristic of Trinity Conception Square than any other parking lot on which I’ve daydreamed.
For frig sake, b’ys, wheel your carts to the muster stations.
Thank you for reading.
— Harold Walters lives Happily Ever After in Dunville, in the only Canadian province with its own time zone. How cool is that? Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org