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Month: June 2023

Light and Energy — Sometimes That’s All We Need

Light and Energy — Sometimes That’s All We Need

Even through the broken windows, the waning sun bestowed a sense of elegance to that old hollow-eyed factory on the corner. It always surprised Gilly how a place so wearied and worn could still be given just a touch of grace by the light of the sun.

Photo by Daniele La Rosa Messina on Unsplash

Gilly was half walking, half shuffling, her hands jammed into her jeans as she neared home, just a couple blocks away. It was a hard part of town, a forlorn place that had seen its fair share of good times and very bad ones, too.

Gilly paid no attention to the never-ending thrum of noise in the background, people yelling, a few laughing. Horns honked in the distance as she walked along the garbage-strewn road. Further ahead was the park dedicated to some faceless person now long dead. Who cares, she thought. What a little bit of nothing, this place. Well, she could cut through the park and get home faster.

As she got closer, Gilly could see some commotion up ahead. Someone was standing there and a bunch of kids were grabbing things from him. Oh yeah, Gilly knew that lot. She picked up her speed and yelled …

“Hey!! Leave him alone …! Hey, I’m talkin’ to you … I said leave him alone!!” They’d looked up by then, realising who it was.

“Oh, don’t worry Gilly, my love. It’s just this stupid old man … geez, what a stink!” as he kicked one of the bags that he’d grabbed from the man.

“I said get outta here now!” While Gilly was no doubt small and wiry, the other kids in the neighbourhood knew well enough not to mess with her. So, fun over, they reluctantly began to turn to leave, some still laughing, others clearly relieved that they were moving on.

“Fine! We’re outta here anyway … better go help grandpa over there.” And with a laugh, they wandered on.

Gilly turned around and started to gather up some of the bags that they must’ve pulled out of the old gentleman’s trolley. It was just one of the shopping trolleys that always seem to be left on their side, often on the edges of roads, waif-like and alone.

“I’m so sorry, sir,” Gilly said, as she handed him his things. “They’re idiots and don’t have a clue most of the time … Most of them are okay. Just one or two are the lead idiots I guess.

“Thank you very much” the gentleman said as he carefully placed the bags back into his trolley. “They didn’t do too much harm really,” he said as he sat back down on the bench.

“No, I know. It’s just not right messing with people like that,” Gilly shared, as she plunked herself on the bench.

“Well, I owe it to you for lending me a much-needed hand,” he offered, nodding his head slightly to her and giving her a gentle smile. “You must’ve been heading home and it was just my luck that you decided to come through the park when you did.”

“Yeah, I was headed home I suppose,” she said, a bit of a wry laugh as she looked up at him.

“Home,” he repeated.

“Yeah, home …” she added with a sigh. “Where do you live? Or is that a stupid thing to ask …?

Source: Photo by Paul Arky on Unsplash

“Oh no. By no means. No, ma’am. This is my home …” as he gestured half-grandly at the surrounding park “ … for the moment.” He patted the bench and his trolley, “I can usually just sleep on this bench and come morning, I have nature’s best and most perfect alarm as the birds never fail to sing me awake with the first light,” he laughed at her, his eyes sparkling with the pure joy of it!

“Geez, the way you make it sound, it’s not half bad,” she said, smiling widely. “It’s nice what you say,” she continued, looking up at him. “You say I was heading home, but that’s a bit of a laugh.”

“What do you mean,” said the old gentleman as he straightened another one of his bags.

“Well, it’s complicated. I mean, for sure, my mom may be there. Likely not though. Never know when she’ll be in or in what state,” she scoffed. “She’s tried to quit, but in the end, she just starts drinking again. I’m sure my little brother’s asleep right now … he’ll be okay.”

The old gentleman nodded as he listened, looking ahead as the sun’s rays were dwindling. “That must be difficult at times, I expect,” he shared.

“Yeah, well I can handle myself …. I don’t know why I’m telling you this!”

“Oh not to worry. I have all the time in the world,” he smiled.

She was a little uncertain, but went on. “Well, I don’t know … it’s just that I always have to keep an eye on my little brother to make sure things are okay for him. No one else’ll do it, that’s for sure,” Gilly explained. “It’s no big deal. It is what it is and all that. But sometimes, geez, you just wanna get outta here. Forget it ever really existed.” She looked at him and added, “I’m thinking I’ll head into the city next spring.”

“Yes, certainly. But forgive me for saying this … you don’t seem the sort to cut and run. There’s a strength you seem to have … a strong will. Sorry. I don’t mean to pry. It just seems that way. You definitely helped me just now,” he added.

Gilly smiled, almost shyly, like he’d somehow peeked under her armour. “I s’ppose. It’s just sometimes you run outta energy and just feel kinda empty. Sick of it all … tired … you know what I mean?” she said looking into his eyes.

He smiled and began to unwrap one of the packages in the bottom of his trolley. “The sun’s going down,” he said. “Look out over the hills over there. They say this is actually the longest day of the year.”

“Geez, I’ve never thought about things like that … a day is a day is a day … whatever” Gilly laughed. “Don’t know anything about that!”

He began to play his instrument, “Uh huh. It’s the longest day and it’s a time they say when there’s apparently magic afoot … isn’t that interesting!”

“What’s that …???” Gilly said looking at what he was playing.

Photo by Carlos Araujo on Pexels.

“Oh, it’s an accordion. I’ve had it all my life. Have to protect it … when I run into a bit of trouble … like earlier,” he smirked.

As he spoke the light of the sinking sun began to paint the sky an elegant mosaic of reds, pinks, purples, and blues and all the while the achingly melodic strains of his music floated into the air.

“So there you go,” the old gentleman assured Gilly. “If it’s energy you need, you can come here, any day of the year, but especially now. Take this energy and drink it in and most of all, you must always believe. Do you believe Gilly … in your place in the world?”

Gilly listened attentively, not really sure of what the old gentleman was saying. “Well I’m not sure, but you know, somehow there’s a part of me that does I think. Believe,” she said hesitantly and then began to smile.

“That’s my girl,” he said, beaming.

Gilly laughed at him, “but I’d better get going now. Maybe I’ll come by tomorrow, eh! See how you’re doing. And let me know if those kids are bugging you. If they are, I’ll set them straight.”

“Oh, I know you will, Gilladrea.”

It was nothing that Gilly ever does, but she quickly gave her new friend a peck on the cheek. “Okay, gotta go” and she smiled, turning to leave.

Gilly pushed her hands deep into her pockets and began walking home, a slight skip in her step. She quickly turned to wave a final good-bye, but to her amazement, he wasn’t there any more. That’s weird. Where’d he go? She cast her eye around, but she couldn’t see him anywhere. Ah, well, maybe she’d see him tomorrow. She looked around again to check. But maybe not.

She kept walking, sure that she could still hear the ever so faint and haunting music of the accordion.

Many Faces of Poverty

Many Faces of Poverty

Although the finer nuances of food insecurity have changed, its grip is as tenacious now as it was centuries ago. And much of that tenacity is due to an age-old adversary—poverty. It’s a looming presence for far too many.

Very few can deny the increased cost of living. According to Canada’s Food Price Report for 2023, an expected 5-7% rise in food prices in 2022, turned out to be a 10.3% rise. That’s substantial. It’s the general public who are being forced to contend with these changes.

Even in 2022, people were forced to pick and choose food purchases that were less costly. Other items were simply left off the list. Along with food, other necessary costs such as rent or mortgage, phone, internet and fuel also demand our attention. Simply put, there’s just not enough money to go around.

Yet, food is the one place where we can pinch a little harder. However, as the last resort, some have had to overlook their pride and, cap in hand, ask a food bank for assistance. Everyone needs to know there’s never been any shame in having to do so.

Food Banks Help Fight Food Insecurity

One of the major methods to address the immediate impact of food insecurity is through the use of food banks. In Newfoundland & Labrador, these can be found in larger centres such as St. John’s as well as smaller ones, including the Placentia Area Food Bank — Serving Branch to Ship Harbour.

Photo by Nico Smit on Unsplash

Unfortunately, an increasing number of people are having to rely on the food banks. Often at the final minute, when there is no other hope, many are forced to request an emergency hamper. Some have found the need to rely on a food bank on a regular basis.

Again, there’s no shame in having to do so. In fact, many of the people calling for help are not unemployed. They may have families to support. Whether for those who are single, couples or a family, it’s simply a matter of their income not going far enough.

The Real Issue

However, as many know, food banks are merely the symptom of the true problem. The real issue is down to money. This lies at the heart of many of the dilemmas plaguing us, food insecurity being one of them.

Source: Nicola Barts .

When looking at the data, we find that in Canada as a whole, 63% of those regarded as food insecure receive social assistance. The story is likely the same in Newfoundland & Labrador. That means the majority of people finding it difficult to put food on the table are on social assistance. None of this is surprising.

Most on social assistance are there simply because what they earn in their jobs is inadequate to actually make a living. No doubt, in an effort to address the cost of living, the province increased the minimum wage on 1 April 2023 to $14.50. Then, on 1 October, 2023, it will rise to $15. While an increase to the minimum wage is welcomed, it still falls short of the $18.85 an hour which is considered the living wage.

Reaching this living wage is an immense obstacle for too many in Newfoundland & Labrador. Concerns regarding problems tied to poverty and the grip it has on much of the population need to be addressed.

Hidden Poverty

Something called the “poverty line” is a useful barometer for overall well being. Let’s take a basket filled with the goods and services needed to live a fruitful life—healthy food, appropriate shelter, clothing, transportation and so on. The cost of these items are linked to the average cost in the community where we live. This establishes the poverty line, one we are either above or below.

Although, poverty has a level of complexity. The problem is there’s something known as “hidden poverty.” This means you may actually be above that poverty line. However, one is thrust back given the additional costs for electric, child care, food and other basic necessities. So, poverty is the primary reason why people are held within the grips of food insecurity.

Along these same lines, in order to genuinely address the complexities comprising food insecurity, it’s necessary to also take into account the myriad costs, beyond our basic necessities, we encounter in life.

An Integrated Approach

Alongside food, we’re required to deal with a multiplicity of other costs such as health, housing, and so on. The lack of nutritious food is only one component of a much broader problem and this demands a more integrated approach.

And integration means it’s necessary to have people who can work to coordinate the various elements coming together to shape the vulnerabilities people experience.

So, when tackling food insecurity, at the same time, efforts must be made to ensure people are living in ideal housing. At the same time, it’s imperative their health is also being addressed.

These factors are all intimately connected. For instance, our food is closely linked with our health. Moreover, the quality of our housing is also equally bound to our health. When addressing food insecurity, it needs to be alongside other issues such as housing and health.

We’ve been down this road many times before. If we think of food as one arm, our finances may be the other. Health and housing are our two legs. We need to dedicate our attention to the well-being of the body, not just one of the arms or legs. Each are inherently connected to the other.

We need to dramatically change our perspective. If our intention is to improve people’s well-being, any money given must be used to address the whole.

Cape St Mary’s Ecological Reserve

Cape St Mary’s Ecological Reserve

Image of Cape St. Mary’s Ecological Reserve (Source: D. Gordon E. Robertson Wikipedia)

Located at the southern tip of the Cape Shore,1 Cape St. Mary’s Ecological Reserve can lay claim to a rich and diverse identity. It is an identity that touches on the many rich ecological, social and cultural attributes of the area.

Ecological Reserve

Nowadays, Cape St. Mary’s is best known for the Ecological Reserve that covers approximately 64 km2 with 54 km2 comprising the marine portion. Cape St. Mary’s had been recognised as early as 1964 as a Wildlife Reserve. However, in 1983, the enactment of the Wilderness and Ecological Reserves Act paved the way for Cape St. Mary’s to become an Ecological Reserve. The Wilderness and Ecological Reserves Act functions to “preserve special and representative natural areas in Newfoundland and Labrador.”


Given this aim, the Ecological Reserve is home to a wide array of the seabirds, flora and fauna that make a home in this unique part of Newfoundland and Labrador. The Ecological Reserve or the Cape, is the location of one of the six gannetries in Atlantic Canada and is the fourth largest in North America.

Image of Gannets (Source: CC BY-SA 3.0 Wikipedia).

Along with gannets who annually nest on a sea stack (customarily referred to as Bird Rock), a host of other seabirds can also be seen in the sky or nesting on the cliffs below about a ten minute walk away from the Interpretation Centre. Casting an eye around, one may spot black-legged kittiwakes, Common Murres (Turres), Thick-billed Murres, Great and Double-crested Cormorants (Shags), Herring Gulls and Great Black-backed Gulls (Saddlebacks).

Image of Double-Crested Cormorant (Source: Wikipedia).

Alongside the seabirds, land birds also nest at the Cape. Some of these birds include Horned Larks, Water Pipits, Kestrels and Common Ravens. Seaducks, such as the endangered Harlequin Duck also winter off the coast of Cape St. Mary’s. And on a good day, one may be lucky enough to spy a few other species who periodically visit the Cape, including caribou, humpback, fin and Minke whales. Wildlife present on the Cape one would be less likely to spot are species such as the red fox and coyotes.


Cape St. Mary’s Ecological Reserve occupies an ecoregion known as the Eastern Hyper-Oceanic Barrens. And so, the flora and fauna nest and whirl amidst a land that is punctuated by its beautiful trees and plants. There are areas of tuckamore primarily of the balsam fir species. A view of the landscape will also reveal a plethora of beautiful irises (Northern Blue Flag Iris) that bloom in the summer as well as alpine moss, such as Moss Campion and Pink Crowberry. Collectively, they offer colourful decor for the open barrens.

Image of Northern Blue flag Iris (Source: D. Gordon E. RobertsonWikipedia).

Given the nature of this part of Newfoundland and Labrador, one of the objectives in the management plan of the Ecological Reserve is “to foster scientific studies.” Such studies help to ensure the integrity of the Ecological Reserve.

Cultural Life

However, prior to its current identity as an ecological reserve, Cape St. Mary’s was embedded in the social and cultural life of the region. The Reserve is home to a lighthouse built in 1860. Since this time, it has ensured that the boats could safely navigate the sometimes hazardous waters of Placentia Bay.

Image of lighthouse at Cape St. Mary’s (Source: Magicpiano CC BY-SA 3.0 Wikipedia).

One of the lighthouse keepers was John O’Reilly, the father of Thomas O’Reilly, the Magistrate of Placentia from 1877-97. It was these individuals who founded communities such as Golden Bay and Lear’s Cove.

The lives and the memory of these men, women and children can be found echoing on the Cape and still animating the history that brings it to life. Since 1999, the Cape St. Mary’s Performance Series has showcased the rich cultural history, music, stories and photographs of Cape St. Mary’s, as well as other places in the province. It is a fitting event that celebrates the rich identity and mosaic we know as Cape St. Mary’s.


  1. The Cape Shore is located in the southwestern portion of the Avalon, a peninsula in southeastern Newfoundland and Labrador.
Amidst the Distress, There’s Always Hope

Amidst the Distress, There’s Always Hope

We live in a world where increasingly, we are confronted with more and more trauma and devastation—wars, protests, people fleeing homes that have been destroyed and so on. Too often, we are left in utter disbelief with these heartrending realities. Unquestioningly, a page through a history book will assure us it’s nothing new. These are the sad realities people have had to face throughout the ages. Nonetheless, many of these stories bring with them torment and distress. And we are left with the agonising sense that there’s nothing we can do. Yet, are we sure?

Distress in the World

One doesn’t have to look for long to find some reference to a war raging in some part of our beautiful world. Currently, the obvious places of unrest are in Yemen and Ukraine, as well as a ramping up distress in China. Of course, there are many other hotspots, including in Haiti, Syria, Nigeria, Somalia. I could go on, but the list is endless.

Destruction in the residential neighbourhoods near mountain Attan

(Source: Ibrahem Qasim on Wikipedia).

We are brought news of the machinations amongst countries that are further enraging this war. Countries in the west, primarily the United States and what some may regard as its loyal accomplices—Britain, Europe and Canada primary amongst them—are often turning the screws on these countries.

We are also confronted with a media, too often guided by these governments. Moreover, media takes a strange delight in predominantly bringing us stories of mayhem, the world falling apart. Most news is bad news.

Syrian refugee centre on the Turkish border 80 kilometres from Aleppo, Syria (3 August 2012)

(Source: Wikipedia).

Along with unending accounts of war, we are told of the harsh realities faced by refugees. Caught in a vice, these people are often in a desperate attempt to escape their homelands. In fact, it is those homelands that were brought to a breaking point by many of the western powers, for instance, United States, Britain Europe, and Canada.

Often, the migration of these refugees is not without its own problems. Any number comes to mind. For instance, there are certain conditions tied to the permission to enter a country that don’t make it easy to remain. Things are rarely straightforward.

Complexity of the Plight Facing the World

We may sigh in frustration. It can lead to feelings of exasperation and in its extreme, to an apathy. The reason why is simply because, under normal circumstances, when we see a problem, we do something to solve it with the hope of making a difference. That’s how it normally works. And usually, our efforts lead to some degree of success. However, as noted, these challenges are often big and decidedly tenacious.

Although, the first step is perhaps realising these problems of warfare, refugees fleeing unstable regions or any number of the sources of unrest afflicting our world are ongoing. They didn’t just begin. Often, if we look back, we can see the harbingers in the past years.

Secondly, I think it’s essential to recognise the vast scope of these problems. They’re not minor obstacles facing a country. Their complexity is foreboding and will take the efforts of numerous individuals to unravel.

In Our Small Way, We Do What We Can

Simply put, there’s only so much we can do. And there’s one important thing we must do. We need to shift our focus from the the actions over which we have little to no control to those over which we can have some impact. We’re always being told to think big. But sometimes, in order to make a difference, we have to think small, or at least to a size we can handle.

Many sign petitions and thus, help to make a difference (Source: Andrea Piacquadio Pexels).

It’s certainly imperative we do our bit. It could entail signing a petition. Maybe, it’ll be a matter of sending a bit of money to aid in the cause. It may seem like these things don’t make any difference. However, it means a little more money or one more name that, in combination with others, makes an immense difference. So, we’re in this together. Beyond these measures, is there anything else we can do?

Some of us take a further step and actively work to aid the refugees who may happen to arrive in Canada. For instance, some organisations will take it upon themselves to host an individual, couple or family who are seeking to eventually immigrate. Perhaps their first step is as a refugee.

The organisation takes it on themselves to smooth out the process. Often, this involves ensuring the individuals have shelter. Otherwise, there’s need to assist newcomers in navigating the educational and health systems, managing their finances, learning English or French and so on. Taking these actions will not solve the overall problems besetting the world. Still, however small, they’ll make a noticeable difference.

It’s All Connected

Our world is comprised of innumerable connections and the idea is to generate and create positive energy that we know will grow and eventually spread. It won’t be immediate. But in time, we will see the change.

Hope (Source: Shihab Nymur, Pexels).

And ultimately, our small changes will serve to inspire and encourage those around us to somehow make a difference, themselves. Again, it can be in however small a way. Each of us acting in our small way helps us to realise we are part of a much larger world. More importantly, what we do in our small corner of that world makes a difference to the whole. After all, we’re all connected. We’re all one.

Looking Back to Look Ahead

Looking Back to Look Ahead

Source of Image: Joe from Pixabay (castle …)

“What’s that mess by the back door?” Harry’s wife, Abigail, said sharply, as she placed the bags of groceries on the kitchen counter. Harry smiled knowing it was a jibe and figured he’d take his time to respond. What do they say? Count to ten before speaking. It’s something he’d come to do whenever she made that kind of comment.

To be honest, he wasn’t in the mood to get into another parry and riposte right now. He’d been doing a bit of work outside on what was once their dream solarium. It was no longer a dream, just a reason to get out of the house. Harry had finished all the writing he’d wanted to do.

He’d been working all afternoon and so, he thought he’d come inside, grab a bite to eat before continuing. And after finding the box, he could take some time to think. Harry had no idea what it was, although he was curious.

“What is it anyway? I mean, just throw it out.” Abigail said, as she took more things out of the bag.

“It’s nothing. Just something I found while I was digging to lay the foundation.” He could tell by the way his wife was taking the items out of the bag, set movements, each thudding on the counter, like little bursts of anger, that she was peeved about something. It was the box, this time.

“Well, I’ve got some friends coming over and it’d be great if it weren’t in the way.” He thought, should he question it being ‘in the way’ as it was just a small box.

“Come on, it’s not really in the way.” But the moment he said it, he knew he shouldn’t have. It only made matters worse. He remembers how things blew out of proportion the last time and it led to nowhere good.

“It’s an eyesore and that makes it in the way,” she said, her words terse. They locked eyes.

“No worries. It’ll be out of the way after I open it.” It was best to appease now.

Abigail stopped putting things in the cupboard. “Whaddyamean, open it? Why do you want to open it?”

“Well, I was curious because you don’t often dig up a box. Rocks and other stuff, sure, but not a box.” Harry shrugged his shoulders. He drank the last of his coffee and got up. “I haven’t a clue what it is, to be honest. If you’re interested, I’m gonna open it now.” He thought he’d throw out an olive branch and hope for the best.

Harry walked to the porch where he’d left the box, unsure of whether she’d be at all interested. These days, half the time, he really wouldn’t be surprised if she just walked out on him. It’d been going on for a year now. Harry tried his best not to get into anything with her these days. The one time, he’d really regretted. He was sure the neighbours must’ve wondered. Afterwards, he vowed to never let it reach such a fever pitch again.

He knew it all stemmed from the problems with her family. Her parents were breaking up with a divorce looming. They had created a wasteland for their children while doing battle, dragging the entire family through the muddy trenches of what was appearing to be a pretty sordid life. He wasn’t surprised. Money had a way of dragging people down to never-before-seen levels.

Of course, Abigail would be the last to acknowledge it. She’d always been the peacemaker. But it had even exceeded her attempts, leaving her adrift. He’d tried to allay her fears for herself, their own children and so on. But nowadays, he just left things alone. Still, the past year had been pure hell.

Harry dusted some more dirt off the box. He looked up as his wife came into the porch. “Just thought I’d take a look at what you’d found.” She shrugged her shoulders as she sat down. He’d put it on a bin bag. Lifting it, he turned it around and around.

“It’s pretty light.” He shook it and they could hear something was inside. Abigail sat on the bench paying little attention, looking out the porch window, immersed in some turmoil within. Harry wasn’t entirely sure why she was there, but he figured maybe there was some ember within her that could still be ignited. “I can’t imagine it’d be too complicated,” Harry said as he fussed with the lock. “Let’s see if the internet can give us a bit of help,” he said as he pulled out his phone. He looked for a moment. “Well, here we go.” He showed her the website he’d found on how to pick locks.

“Nowadays, you can find the damndest things on the internet,” Abigail said, rolling her eyes.

“Pretty good someone decided to share, though.” Harry thought it was best to stay positive to keep things on an even keel. He read the instructions while Abigail was lost in her thoughts. “That doesn’t sound impossible.” Harry started to get up. “I’ll go and collect some of our tools. It’s not too much we’d need. Just a paper clip, I think,” Harry said. Abigail picked up the box, scrutinising it.

Harry returned with a paper clip. He was pleased she seemed to be at least somewhat interested, even though he was sure the troubles hounding her still rattled and boomed in the background. He began inserting the paper slip, jiggling it around for a few minutes. “I don’t know if this is the best approach,” he said, laughing. Meanwhile Abigail read through the instructions on the website Harry had found.

“Here, let me try,” Abigail said. Harry looked up.

“Sure, here ya go.” He handed the box to her. She placed the clip into the lock and while jiggling it, she pulled it in and out. Abigail worked at it for about ten minutes. Harry watched, his back against the wall. He thought how nice it was for her to be so completely distracted by picking a lock of all things.

Smiling, he wasn’t sure if he’d seen her give such rapt attention to anything in the past year or so. “I think the keyway just turned.” She smiled at him, looking like she’d just won an unexpected prize. Continuing to apply pressure, the keyway finally rotated and they heard that magical click as the lock disengaged.

Harry laughed and clapped. “You did it! I don’t know. I think you may have some hidden talents we need to talk about,” Harry said. Abigail smiled. And that was like an unexpected light, something Harry hadn’t seen gracing her features for a long while.

“I’ve been thinking about shifting careers,” she said. Harry smiled as he opened the box. Inside, there were a wide assortment of letters primarily. He opened one of them.

Source of Image: Felix Lichtenfeld from Pixabay

“Well, the date is 23 January, 1916. It says ‘To my Dearest Penelope.’ And it goes on talking about what the writer’s doing in England and their training. They just talk about how it’s going and when they think they’ll be going over. I assume they mean mainland Europe.”

“O, my God,” Abigail said in a sudden gasp. “Is the person who wrote it a William Morris Turner?” Harry flipped to the next page. He nodded.

“Yeah, that’s what it says. ‘With all my love, William Morris Turner.”

“And was the person to whom it was written Penelope Ann Harcourt?” He looked at the envelope.

“Right again. It’s addressed to Miss Penelope Ann Harcourt. How did you know that?”

“Well, the land we’re on, pretty much all of the homes in this subdivision, used to belong to the Harcourts. I mean this is going back decades. When we were growing up, our mother told us about the family and how they eventually sold their land. Then it just became a part of the town. Their house is still standing, actually.” Harry furrowed his eyebrows.

“O, of course. That’s the community museum on whatchamacallit street.”


“Well, I’ll be darned. So, what’s the story here?” Harry said as he picked up the box and began looking through more of the letters.

After getting some more coffee, they spent the rest of the afternoon reading the letters. Harry didn’t say a word about Abigail’s friends coming over because clearly it hadn’t been that important. Maybe she’d just said it. He thought it was best to just let the afternoon flow.

“The one thing that’s different is this letter,” Abigail said, lifting up a letter. “It’s not from William Morris, either. It’s from Penelope. And it’s not even in an envelope.” Harry looked over. “To be honest, it doesn’t even look like it’d been posted, actually.

“What does it say?” Abigail opened the letter and began to read, a look of enlightenment touching her features.

“Ah, that makes sense.”

“What makes sense?”

“It says, “My dearest love, I received your letter with the usual anticipation and joy. Rest assured, I was overjoyed with the question at the end of your letter! My response is an undeniable and emphatic YES! I would so love to be your wife!” And the letter talks about a few other things. But that’s the main part of it, I think. It’s utterly beautiful,” Abigail said, her eyes moistening.

“I mean, yeah, it’s beautiful, but why did I find this buried. It doesn’t make any sense,” Harry said, furrowing his eyebrows and taking the letter from Abigail.

“Well, that’s the really sad part about it, isn’t it” she said, a tear rolling down her cheek. “You see, from what my mother explained, they never got married. William Morris was killed in 1916 and so it was never to be.” She looked at Harry, her voice cracking. “It’s horrible because you know why she buried all his letters and her letter. She must’ve been so thoroughly heartbroken.”

Harry touched her shoulder, gathering her into his arms. It was the first time in a while that Abigail had expressed any emotion other than anger or frustration. She’d become tightly bound over the months. So, he wasn’t sure if she were crying for Penelope and William or the sadness enveloping her own life. In any case, something had clearly broken.

Harry gave her a tissue with which she wiped her eyes. “It’s awful because this place was sold around that time, after the war. I mean, it was sold and they started to break it apart. It’s just makes you realise the horrible things people have had to endure.” She sat looking at the letters, straightening them and placing them back in the box. “I mean, can you imagine how it would’ve been when she got word he’d died. She would’ve been absolutely lost. I’m not surprised she buried the letters. She didn’t want to destroy them. She just wanted them gone.”

“Where did she go? Do you know?”

“I’m not sure. She had family in England. They were originally from there and so that’s likely where they went.” They sat quietly for a moment.

“Well, there’s a sad story. You can only hope it ended happil,” Harry said.

“Yeah.” Abigail got up from the floor and sat on the bench. “It just makes ya think of the big world out there. Myriad sad stories to go around, eh,” she said, looking at Harry.

“Absolutely.” He didn’t want to say anything, as he thought he’d rather give her the floor to maybe speak her mind.

“It kinda makes you realise the world’s full of sad stories.”

“Happy stories, too. Don’t forget that.”

“I know. It’s just, you forget,” Abigail said, closing her eyes.

“Yeah, but the most important thing is at some point, you remember,” Harry said. Abigail looked at him, their eyes meeting. She looked down.

“I’m sorry for how I’ve been. How long, I don’t know.”

“No worries. It’s in the past.” Their eyes locked again, with Harry and then Abigail smiling. “Well, how about we say, in honour of Penelope and William, it’s time to turn the page.”