Colour Me Colour­ing

Northern Pen - - FO­CUS - Harold Wal­ters Re­marks

As were many men of com­pa­ra­ble vin­tage, I was reared up colour­ing. Ev­ery spe­cial oc­ca­sion — Christ­mas, birth­days, quar­an­tine be­cause of com­mu­ni­ca­ble child­hood dis­eases — was a rea­son to be given colour­ing books: Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, Hopa­long Cas­sidy, and oc­ca­sion­ally Tarzan.

Oh, and a pack of sixty-four Pea­cock crayons, their tips as sharp as ar­row­heads. Af­ter colour­ing sev­eral books from furl to furl those crayons were worn to one-inch stubs and cast aside like shells emp­tied from six-shoot­ers, or p’raps melted into waxy rivulets on the kitchen stove’s cast iron back, eh b’ys?

As I’ve re­marked else­where, last sum­mer — to calm my travel-frayed nerves and de­spite cu­ri­ous stares from iPad- tap­ping tots — I coloured man­dalas thirty thou­sand feet above the Cana­dian Rock­ies.

Last week — nei­ther Christ­mas, nor my birth­day, nor was I dis­eased un­less “dis- eased” by Life On This Planet [ LOTP] counts — I re­ceived a spank­ing new colour­ing book: Bobbi Pike’s The Colours of New­found­land and Labrador [ Cre­ative Pub­lish­ers]. Need­less to say, I was tick­led sixty- four dif­fer­ent shades of pri­mary colours.

In her In­tro­duc­tion Ms. Pike sug­gests colourists (?) might visit her web­site and view vividly coloured pho­to­graphs of orig­i­nal paint­ings. Of course, all the colours have been scrubbed out for the colour­ing book’s pages.

I did browse the web­site. I ad­mired the colours. I shut down the web­site, flipped open the colour­ing books and to­tally ig­nored Ms. Pike’s colours be­cause…

…be­cause, some would say — grand­daugh­ters in par­tic­u­lar — Pop, is a con­trary old troll. I flipped to the Cod page. There, Bobbi — may I say “Bobbi”? — has sketched a pic­ture of a cod­fish. Its skin is cir­cles and arcs and wavy lines. And Ol’ Mr. Cod is about to swal­low one of Bobbi’s sig­na­ture crows.

I se­lected my colours: orange, red, pur­ple, yel­low, brunt um­ber. Then, con­trary troll, I coloured the cod to look just like a frig­gin’ con­ner.

Liv­ing up to my ep­i­thet, I re­fused to colour Cool Scent of Sum­mer be­cause there is an ice­berg in the pic­ture. New­found­land’s sum­mers are far too brief and chilly for any cel­e­bra­tion of ice­bergs. Pop is a con­trary old troll. I turned the page and coloured its back­side: Deep Bight Mem­o­ries.

I knew the di­lap­i­dated sawmill pic­tured, its aged wa­ter­wheel fall­ing apart and — oh, look, there’s a crow caught in the col­laps­ing frame.

As I searched for fewer than fifty shades of weath­ered grey, I felt an over­whelm­ing urge to scratch my… well, let’s say I’ve played in saw­dust piles and I re­mem­ber the itch­ing as­so­ci­ated with sticky spruce saw­dust in one’s un­der-draw­ers.

The New­found­land page is ba­si­cally a map of New­found­land. The draw­ing is stogged with swirls and flower- like man­dalas and three crows are em­bed­ded in the weave.

B’ys, re­mem­ber Fri­day af­ter­noon’s in Joey’s post- Con­fed­er­a­tion schools when ad­dled, des­per­ate teach­ers busy-timed rest­less schol­ars with this as­sign­ment? “Draw a map of New­found­land and la­bel all the bays and penin­su­las.”

I ’ low Fri­day af­ter­noons would have been much more fun if we had had Bobbi’s map to colour.

I didn’t colour all of Pucker Up, just the cod­fish that I trans­formed into another con­ner. I didn’t colour the so’wester or the bot­tle of rum be­cause I find the whole Screech-In-Kiss-ACod sce­nario of­fen­sive, be­lit­tling… What? Pop is a con­trary old troll! Buck­ets and Boots is my favourite page. Sure, I’m in the pic­ture.

It’s capelin scull. Three young­sters play on a beach lit­tered with capelin. Three crows wing off to the eastern.

The girl in the fore­ground has sorted a hand­ful of capelin and tossed them into a bucket. Ob­vi­ously she isn’t me. I’m one of the two boys.

One bay- boy is wob­bling in the wave wash car­ry­ing an empty dip net. Give him a minute and I’m cer­tain he’ll scoop up a net- full; the capelin are rolling. This bay- boy is in­dus­tri­ous. He isn’t me.

Do the math. I have to be the other bay-boy. Ta-dah! I’m stand­ing back on in my knee rub­bers and star­ing at the water. I’m show­ing no in­ter­est in the capelin ly­ing around my boots. Know­ing me, I’m won­der­ing how to catch some of the flat­fish that have fol­lowed the capelin ashore, or — see­ing that my fist are balled up out of sight in my coat sleeves — sulk­ing about some­thing or other. P’raps I’m pout­ing be­cause I don’t have a dip net.

Take a close look at my broad no­ble neck, its mus­cles rigid and in­flex­i­ble, and then an­swer this ques­tion: Do you think this broody bay- boy hears chant­ing from the fu­ture when he is an old grand­fa­ther? Pop is a con­trary old troll! “Thank you for read­ing,” says the con­trary old troll.

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