Journey to the Blue Charm Inn…
Mirakye and Lucius had come to stay at Crow Kiah where Naani and Nana Nettie lived in the Otway rainforest.
It was a wet Spring day so they put on their raincoats and gumboots and went for a long walk amongst the dripping peppermint gum trees. They splashed in every puddle they could find till even Lara and Roxy, the two dogs, were all wet and worn out.
Back inside the wood fire was cosy and warm and for a while Mirakye and Lucius looked at books, played Legos, and shook and jiggled all the musical instruments they could find. Through the big windows they watched the wallabies feeding on the grass. There was the cutest little joey who jumped in and out of his mother’s pouch, his long legs all poking every which way.
Mirakye climbed up onto her Naani’s knee. “Is it time for us to go to the Bluecharm Inn yet?” she asked hopefully. Lucius looked up from his dinosaur magnets. It was their favourite story. “I think so,” said Naani. “What do you think, Nettie?” Nana Nettie who was busy knitting Lucius a forest green jumper nodded and laughed and before she could say, “let’s go”, Lucius had jumped up and snuggled between them.
The leaves were changing colour and falling to the ground when Naani said, “It’s starting to get cold now, Nettie. Perhaps it is time for us to go away.” Every Australian winter Nana Nettie and Naani traveled across the world to spend the northern hemisphere summertime in their little cabin deep in the wilderness of Newfoundland, Canada. It was always exciting as well as a bit sad to leave their families for so long but at least they got to talk on Skype. After packing their bags, they took their dogs to Lynn’s place, closed up the house and gave everyone the biggest hugs and cuddles and kisses that they could squeeze in. But this time it was different. This time Lucius and Mirakye were coming too!
Newfoundland was almost exactly half a world away and took a whole day and a whole night to fly there on three different planes. Nana said they would lose a day travelling. Lucius thought about what he would do for all that time. Mirakye wondered if she would get to see the hole where the day went.
After landing in St Johns they stayed with their Newfoundland family, Craig, Roxanne, Stephen and Ian, and shared a jigs dinner and a big feed of cod. The next day they drove to Gander.
“Is that a goose? asked Mirakye. They all laughed. She asked this every time.
“No, it’s the town where we pick up our supplies for the weeks in the cabin.” For a while they worked together making a list of the yummy things they would cook on the campfire.
Two days later, with their car loaded with goodies, they crawled slowly over the rough and rocky road to New Pond where their little red boat waited on the shore. The winter had brought mountains of snow and the pond had been frozen over while Naani and Nana were back in Australia. It was a good thing that it was summer here now.
Naani checked the motor, put on her waders and slid the boat down into the water. Nana showed Lucius and Mirakye how to hold the boat rope to save it from floating away. They all put on their lifejackets and tightened the cords. Everyone felt safer knowing they would float if anything happened.The wind was blowing up little waves as they climbed carefully in. “Anchors away” called Nana and pushed them out from the shore.
They had to pass through lily pads and water grasses. “Is that mermaids hair?” wondered Mirakye as she watched the long strands swirling just under the waves. They puttered around the first little island and there was the cabin across on the far shore. “The Bluecharm Inn is still a really long way away, Nana,” Lucius said, a little awed. And it was, ponds in Newfoundland can be as big as lakes in Australia.
Mirakye and Lucius became very quiet as they crossed the rest of the pond. Nana and Naani shared a smile as they remembered how long it had been that these two children had dreamed of coming here.
While Nana tied up the boat, the children climbed out.
“Is this jetty really just for us?” asked Lucius.
“For us and our visitors,” said Nana. “You can fish and swim here all day long if you want.”
Just then a big salmon jumped out of the water as if to say ‘catch me if you can!’ Mirakye’s eyes got wider and wider when she saw how many fish were swimming under the jetty.
“Let’s get our bags inside first,” said Naani. “Then we can set you up with some rods and worms. We’ll be wanting some trout for supper.”
They carried the gear up the jetty. Nana tried the door.
“Did you bring the key, Naani?”
Naani checked her pockets. “No, I don’t seem to have it? Have you kids have got it?” They shook their heads. No, they didn’t have it.
Just then a grey jay swooped down and landed on Nana’s shoulder as if to whisper in her ear.
“Now I remember,” she laughed. “Those cheeky jays thought they should keep it safe while we were away. So, where is it old friend?”
The jay cocked his head, looked Mirakye right in the eye as if to say ‘come with me’, then flew off into the little forest behind the cabin. Mirakye looked at Naani. “Can we?” she asked. “I think you both better go,” said Naani. “Four eyes are better than two.”
The two children jumped off the deck and raced after the grey jay. It didn’t take long till they spotted the key hanging off a branch of the black spruce just high enough to be out of the snows of wintertime. Being taller Lucius could just reach it. He carefully unlocked the door and led the way in. It was just as they imagined from the photos, only better. They were really here!!
As Nana and Naani unloaded the last of the supplies the children ran inside and out, and round and round the cabin, between the trees, over the rocks and up and down the jetty. After sitting still for so long they had oodles of energy to burn. Plus there was so much to see. Where there were no rocks the thick moss and lichens beds were like running on a slightly bouncy spongy bed. Every now and then Mirakye just had to lie down and put her cheek against its soft velvety touch. She thought one day she might curl up in a little moss cocoon and have a little nap.
“Who’s thirsty?” called Nana. “Me,” shouted Mirakye from the edge of the thick woods. “I am too,” said Lucius from shore of the pond where he’d been checking out what might just be hiding under the rocks. When they got inside they found mugs on the table but hang on… there was no taps… not even a sink! Then Lucius remembered Nana telling him that the winter here was so cold that they couldn’t have water pipes because they would all freeze and burst while they were away. “Come on Mirakye. We’ll have to go to the well.”
“Over here,” they heard Nana call. She was already at the well filling the buckets that would go inside the cabin to dip into anytime they wanted a drink. She lifted one child up at a time so they could see down into the big hole Craig had dug into the hard rock for the water to collect in. Nana showed them how she had to drop in a bucket and then pull it up filled with the sparkling clear water for drinking. They would not be able to do it for themselves for a couple years yet. Even Nana’s feet nearly lifted off the ground when the bucket was heavy. She was not very tall and soon Lucius would be big enough to help. They all drank a big mug full to celebrate. Lucius thought that seeing as they drank cloud-juice in Australia that they caught in their rainwater tanks, here in Newfoundland the water should be called earth-juice as it came out of the ground. Everybody thought that was a great idea.
The wind was dancing across the pond making all sorts of patterns on the surface when a big silver flash leapt out of the water and landed with a loud splash. It was that cheeky salmon again, or maybe even another one!
Mirakye turned to Naani. She didn’t even have to say anything. Naani knew just what she would be asking.
“Yes my love, it’s that time. Let’s go and catch us a fish!” Mirakye clapped her hands and squirmed with delight. Her whole body felt excited. She had been waiting such a long time to catch a trout in Newfoundland. She had caught a whiting and squid in the oceans of Australia. But she knew from all the photos and stories how Nana Nettie and Naani ate fish everyday at the Bluecharm Inn.
Naani had the fishing rods all set up with spinners and hooks cause she knew how hard it was to be patient when you were young. There was one each for Lucius and Mirakye. All they needed was something to bait them with.
Naani asked Lucius to get the tub of worms from the esky where she kept them safe from the sun.
“Ten Fat Canadian Night Crawlers,” he read on the label as he brought them over. “Does that mean they only come out at night?”
“I don’t know,” said Naani. “They always seem busy whenever I’ve had a look. See what you think.”
Lucius opened the tub. They seemed active enough. He thought he might find out more about them later on.
“Can you please pass me one of those worms, Lucius?” Naani asked. “I thought I would bait the lines for you till you get used to working with the hooks. Remember they are very sharp and will get stuck in anything they catch onto.”
Lucius carefully pulled out a long worm and handed it to Naani.
She held it in her palm while they all looked at it. “I always think it’s a bit sad to have to use a worm or another little fish to catch a bigger fish. But it is the way of nature and part of living off the land,” she said. “So each time I like to be grateful to the little worm for sharing its life so we can eat. So here is our thanks to you little worm.” Lucius and Mirakye both felt better then as Naani put a piece of the worm on each line.
As they would be fishing over the water they put on their brightly coloured life jackets just in case and headed down the jetty.
Naani showed them how to flick the rods over their heads so that the hook would fly out over the water as far as possible. As they wound it in the spinner turned and sparkled in the water like a little fish and hopefully be seen by a hungry trout. At first they only felt some gentle tugs on their lines as the little fish nibbled and snuck off with the worms.
Suddenly Mirakye shouted, “I’ve got one, Naani. I’ve really got one!” And she did too. They could all see the end of the rod pulling down towards the water.
“Hang on there, Mirakye and keep the line tight now. Reel him in fairly quickly. That’s the way.” Naani was right behind her making sure she didn’t tumble into the water.
The trout on the end of the line jumped in a flash of silver and orange belly. As Mirakye reeled him in Naani helped swing the trout up and into the boat where it was moored beside the jetty. The glistening trout was a real beauty. Naani says the boat is the best net she’s ever used. But before they could spend anytime celebrating Lucius called out. “Something’s swimming round with my line too, Naani.” Lucius had watched Mirakye carefully as is his way, and in no time there was two good sized trout splashing in the bottom of the boat. Lucius decided to climb down into the boat to study the colourful spotted trout while Naani and Mirakye kept fishing.
Ten minutes later they had four fine fish for dinner and they were delicious! What a day they it had been. From the deck they watched the golden sunset light up the clouds and play across the water. A mug of hot chocolate with a couple of marshmallows was all that was needed. As the moon rose above the horizon two tired little people slipped into the land of dreams wondering just what tomorrow might bring…