The Sound of Flankers

When my eyes were stabbed by the flash of an orange light
That split the night
And touched the sound of flankers

With apologies to Paul Simon! I’m not sure how this thought got in my head, but for some reason, lately, I’ve had the sound, smell and sight of flankers, from a nice blasty bough, flying high, in my memory.  I don’t so much have a story to tell , but a word, and a memory to share.

What are flankers? Well the link can tell you they are sparks from a fire, but really they are more.  A part of a lifestyle, memories from a time many have forgotten, and may be getting lost. Bonfires, and boil ups, ice fishing and skating on ponds and lakes.  Days and nights spent with parents and relatives now gone. Indelible memories.

I am taken back to Island Pond.  Probably not one memory but many combined.  In with Dad and Keith, pulled by our old horse Pet on the slide, a fire going on the shore while we cut holes through the ice with an axe.  No ice auger for us in those days.  Salt Pork for bait. Not sure we ever caught one, but what was better was the time spent together.

You know you remember them too, and can smell them.  The orange needles from an old spruce or fir top thrown on a fire, immediately igniting into a fireworks display better than any Canada Day celebration.  The accompanying smell as they rise high into the night, throwing an orange glow on the snow and ice. While your tea boils in an old apple juice can strung up with rabbit wire over the fire.

Flankers aren’t a concrete thing, but a portal to a world that was, and memories we cherish.


Wiener Roasts and Fireworks

Its the lazy days of summer now, evenings are starting to close in a little earlier, nights are a little chiller, perfect for sleeping, and for fires on the beach. In our teens, and likely much beyond back home these evenings often led to a bonfire on the beach, or sometimes just a smaller fire. We’d gather round some big rocks to sit on, skin out an alder or birch branch or three, and relax and tell lies as we roasted marshmallows and wieners on a stick.

I’ve not had a wiener roasted over a fire, or a toasted marshmallow in years, but I can taste them now, but I think what was even better was a potato, rolled on to the coals to roast, then pulled out, burning our fingers in the process, and drenching it in butter and too much salt and pepper as we scooped it out, often with our fingers, or a stick shaped into a fork or spoon.

Another thing we used to do, back in the days when we we’re less green, or a lot more stupid, you pick your choice, was a bit more dangerous, but in its way a lot of fun.  Years ago, many people had heavy lead or other metal pipes in their houses and outbuildings for drainage.  These pipes were pretty thick as well, and often there was a lot of this around as scrap.  Well we had a piece about yay long (imagine me stretching my arms out :P).  We had it balanced against something, perhaps nothing more than a forked branch, I forget, angled out over Snook’s Harbour. The other end was pressed down into our usual fire pit, with the end underground.

Well we’d gather up spray cans that were nearly empty, bags and bags of them sometimes, and light our fire.  Once it was going good, we’d drop the cans into the pipe like a mortar and run off a little and watch.  Of course once they heated, they’d explode and shoot off over the harbour like a shot, making a huge bang.  What was best was shaving cream cans as they’d trail white foam as they shot off, or WD-40 cans as they’d go off like a flare!

Of course times have changed, and we’ve gotten smarter as well as older, and realize this hazardous not only to ourselves, but bad for the environment.  But sometimes there’s something to be said for being young and stupid too.


One dark night, early in the morning, 3 hungover lads got up to hunt….

Well that’s not quite the way the old rhyme goes, but my version suits the story more.  In the fall of 1995, I had a caribou license for up in back of Terra Nova/Gambo area.  Myself and Eric had decided we were going to go hunting over the weekend, but like young gaffers do, we had been to a bonfire the night before till late. I did manage to get myself home for a few hours sleep, I can’t say if Eric did or not.  But I know the third member of our expedition did sleep, even if only for a little.  I know this because when I drove up to pick up Eric at about half past 3 or 4 o’clock, all I could see were feet laying on the edge of the pavement.  At first I thought it was Eric, but nope, it was Rod in all his glory sprawled out on the ground.  I know he did it for devilment, but if he tries to say he didn’t at least pass out for a little while he shootin something, and its not caribou!

With that the trio was formed, and off we went.  We drove my dad’s old GM Sierra pickup first up to Terra Nova area.  Not being familiar with the area, we really just drove around the back roads.  At some point Rod had to make use of a tree, and for whatever reason also changed his jeans.  This latter point will relate to the story, but you gotta stay patient!

We decided to give up on the Terra Nova area, and instead made for what we, at least, called Mint Brook road.  This is off the highway near Gambo, and goes winding all over the back country. I believe it can even take you down to the south coast if you know the way.  Anyway we drove and drove, till according to the truck odometer we weer about 65 miles up in the woods.  And of course what should happen? Well the exhaust let go on the truck.

Luckily we had some old wire in the back, and we stopped and got it wired up somehow.  I know there’s a picture somewhere of me laying under the truck doing it.  Good to go once again, at some point we pulled off for a lunch.  And what should we see, 65 miles up in the woods, but crab legs!  Yes somehow, whether by birds, or people having a meal, there were old crab leg shells in a turnaround.  Being frustrated with the lack of caribou, I know we took a picture of Rod pretending to shoot them.

I seem to remember seeing one caribou way off, but maybe that was on a different trip, because I also seem to remember us not seeing anything alive except a beaver, and then debating whether we should shoot it!  If we thought we could get it out and that it was fit to eat, we probably would have.

Giving up on the hunting, we drove back out of the woods, and made an excursion to Glovertown.  I am not certain, but I believe it was somewhere near here we saw a “Taxidermy and Take-Out”.  I kid you not.  We decided against trying the take-out, figuring since it was also a taxidermy, we weren’t sure we’d want to eat what they were cooking.

At some point during our many wanderings, Rod thought for some reason he had left his other jeans back near Terra Nova. He kept telling me to “git” back there to pick them up.  That and him jabbing his finger in the direction of the road had me in tears laughing.  (not to be confused with the tears shed from, well lets just say the gas from too many beer the night before).

I know we were going around for weeks after saying “Git!”  It still brings a laugh to me now.