|Damage from Hurricane Igor, just off the Trans Canada Highway|
The owner of the posh bread and breakfast is hither and yon, gadding about, flitting like an exotic butterfly on visiting flowers.
Her Aunt Molly, though, she’s the real stuff.
“This here’s my Aunt Molly,” the owner tosses our way as she dashes off into the parlour to greet or to meet or to solve the world’s problems as they might apply to a B&B in downtown St. John’s, Newfoundland.
Aunt Molly stands behind a dining chair, apron and smile pasted tight.
“We have ham and eggs for breakfast,” she says, “would that be alright?”
She brings hot coffee. Serves homemade morning glory muffins with bowls of fresh sweet butter and bakeapple jam she made herself.
There are several bowls of jam on the elegant breakfast table. The guest from Ontario points to the the bowls, one at a time, and wonders what they are.
“That’s bakeapple,” she says.
The guest points to the bowl filled with something bright red.
“That’s ketchup,” she says.
Aunt Molly is in her 70s. She is a gracious woman and puts up with the guests and their silly questions. She tells them that George St. at night is a must-see. She talks up Signal Hill and Cape Spear. She casually describes the terror she felt as she cowered in a bathroom while Hurricane Igor raged at her windows.
“I live on the fourth floor,” she says. “and I’m having a hard time getting the salt water stains off the glass.”
She says, “It wasn’t so bad here. Only one man killed. It could have been worse. The small villages, though, they’re hurt bad. People without homes. Without water. Overflowing sewage. Cut off from the rest of the island by washed out roads. It’s terrible.”
The guests nod, unable to really understand the depth of her fear. They ask about whale watching and puffin tours. She tells them what they want to know.
But her thoughts, they return not to Igor, but to a navy ship in December 1954, where she was traveling with her new American husband, a navy seaman, away from Newfoundland towards his homeland.
She was already homesick, heartsick and seasick when Hurricane Hazel struck, heaving the steel ship like it was nothing, like she was nothing. She clung to the narrow bed in her berth and prayed that she could keep the baby growing in her gut, prayed that she and her husband would make it to shore alive, prayed she would one day see Newfoundland again.
Aunt Molly talks easily to guests about Hurricane Igor.
But look closely, and you can see her hands shake.