The Journey Home

Bye-bye Newfoundland. It's been a magical adventure. Looking forward to getting back to the studio and going through all of my material. I've been away from my easel too long -- feels like it's been an eternity.

Signal Hill, St. John's

That is Signal Hill in the distance viewed from The Rooms, the art and history museum in St. Johns.

Like Frederic Church, I'm standing on Signal Hill looking for icebergs. Just like then, nothing. No bergs. The man went north.

Bye Bye Bergy...

Just as it's time for us to leave Upper Amherst Cove, our iceberg has started to break up and is sailing out to sea.  It's been amazing to have the time to study and photograph this iceberg and to learn all of it's nuance. The timing of it's arrival to greet us a week ago and now it's break up and exiting at the same time as we are, is truly magical. We're headed to St. John's next, the capital, to spend a few days before we catch the 16 hour ferry to Nova Scotia and then our long drive home.

Private Charter

The weather cleared and we went out again to visit the big iceberg. We did a private charter with Skipper Derm to get us out to the berg at sunset. I asked if he could keep the boat positioned between the iceberg and the setting sun and he was very accommodating. What I wanted to capture is the warmth of the setting sun on the iceberg. What a great evening that was.

Earlier in the day, the water was calm so naturally when we got on the boat the wind kicked up and the ocean became a real ocean with swells, rough water and a lot of up and down and side to side and often all at the same time. Needless to say, I was feeling it. I learned a long time ago, allow yourself to be sick and then you'll be fine and that's what I did. Barbara mercifully didn't capture that. Surprisingly, crab cakes were not the best choice for lunch.

Pancakes and Postcards

We were in the mood for something homey and pancakes were at the top of the list. There were no pancakes to be found -- Newfoundlanders eat toutons with molasses or corn syrup which are fried dough and delicious but not what we were craving. We looked for pancake mix, just to keep it easy, but found none. I spotted scone mix and scanned the ingredients and thought this could be pancake mix! While we were out, Barbara googled Scone Mix Pancakes and found King Arthur Flour's recipe. Worked out great. We highly recommend it. Walnuts and real maple syrup came from home. See recipe below.

  1. Recipe from King Arthur Flour....
  3. 1 1/2 cups (about 8 1/2 ounces) Scone Mix
  4. 1/2 teaspoon salt
  5. 1 large egg, beaten
  6. 3/4 cup (6 ounces) milk
  7. 2 tablespoons (1 ounce) melted butter or vegetable oil (7/8 ounce)
  1. Instructions:
  2. Preheat your griddle while making the batter; set the heat at medium. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk the salt into the dry mix. Whisk together the egg, milk and oil, and add to the dry ingredients, mixing until everything is evenly moist. If the batter seems thin, let it sit for 10 minutes, to thicken; if it seems thick, add additional milk until it's as thin as you like. The thicker the batter, the thicker the pancake (and vice versa).
  3. Spoon the batter by the 1/4-cupful onto the lightly greased griddle; a muffin scoop works well here. When you see the edges begin to look dry and bubbles come up and not break, turn the pancakes over to cook for about a minute on the second side, until cooked through. Serve warm.

Later that day, we were sending out postcards that were adorned with a watercolor of an iceberg. I realized they might not hold up in the mail. I remembered from my art school days, that in a pinch, you can use hair spray as a fixative. Worked like a charm.

A New Big Berg in Town

We spotted a new iceberg, a huge tabular in the distance. Last minute, we went out with Skipper Dermot Hickey of Bonavista Puffin and Whale Tours at sunset, a six mile mile trip on a very cold night. Here I am, incredibly overwhelmed and very happy.

Skipper Derm circled around the berg until sunset. 

The 300 foot iceberg against the sun breaking through the clouds. This berg started it's journey 3 or so years ago from Greenland and here it is in Bonavista Bay for me. A magical night.

Iceberg Stakeout

Now that the iceberg has broken up and is grounded in the cove, it will remain here for a while, so I will have time to study and learn all things visual about this berg. The iceberg is smack in the middle of the front window and is in a great position compositionally and because the house is on a slight hill, my camera position is elevated to give the iceberg a sense of space within the ground plane. I'm very fortunate that I have a comfortable (heat is a good thing) room for my iceberg stake out -- I'm going to be in this room for the next couple of days and nights.

I chose the element on the right for it's shape. I concentrate, over the next few days, on this -- viewing it throughout the day from sunrise through midday, all the way through sunset and beyond. I  capture all the nuances of light. -- from overcast with heavy cloud cover to sunlight breaking, illuminating the water and turning it into a sea of diamonds to magnificent sunsets with reflected light of the sky on the face of the iceberg. (Photo: The red lines you are seeing is called focus peeking, it is showing me where the lens is focused.)

My camera is a Sony RX-10 IV. It's feature set includes a Zeiss zoom lens, 24-600 mm, a superb lens. Shooting through a window is not a problem for a long telephoto lens. You can actually shoot through a window screen with no problem. You have to make sure that your auto focus is disengaged and you set focus manually. Lock the focus on the subject and your focus will always be right on so long as you or the subject doesn't move.

Later That Day

The sun shined all day and it warmed up quite a bit. Some time, late morning, we heard cracking and the arch collapsed -- gone forever, revealing 3 pieces that are attached beneath the waterline to a giant mass. Lots of iceberg debris floating in the cove. As the ice comes up, people scurried to collect chips and blocks for their freezers. It's very good in cocktails.

In this photo, check out the boat for scale. The berg starts to rotate and changes position of the 3 pieces throughout the day to create visually new shapes as if it were on a rotating model stand. Eventually it settles down and is fixed in one position. The sunset here takes a while. It's not as quick as it is back home. It lingers a bit -- the sun doesn't totally set until about 10:00. I watched the sky change from grey and overcast with a strip of clouds catching the yellow sunlight to a scarlet sky, that literally looked like it was on fire. I've never quite seen an entire sky like that.

Sunrise, Iceberg

Sunrise was at 5:09 and I was up and out and ready by 4:30. I photographed this iceberg with the nuances of the sky becoming illuminated by the early sun all the way through it's first touch of light and through to full illumination. The warm light of the sun is just starting to hit upon this cold berg. That's the snap of color I love. A great morning after waiting a whole week. Absolutely magnificent. I couldn't have summoned up a better iceberg.

Iceberg! Iceberg! Iceberg!

It's just over a three hour drive to our new location, Upper Amherst Cove. We are anxious and hopeful what this iceberg could possibly be. As we round a corner, off in the distance, we see against the shoreline what appears to be a real, bonafide, gigantic iceberg with an arch, no less. I photograph like crazy, we mark the spot on the GPS so we know how to get back here. Back in the car, we follow the directions to our new home. Just as Sheila said, we pass the cemetery on our right, we pass the pond on our left, we drive between 2 white houses, we go up an incline and then we go down the hill and there it is.... there is a giant iceberg with an arch right in front of us. I get out of the car and start photographing.

When my pulse comes back to earth, we continue with what's left of our journey.... about 100 feet to the house. And there in front of the house is this amazing profile of this giant iceberg. It's as if it is waiting for us. The arch looks like an open eye that is winking at me. Yay! 

What are the chances of a random house choice having the biggest and best iceberg season parked right outside our door. That evening, the cove was full of photographers and iceberg lovers from all over the world. Everyone was talking about this being the best iceberg of the year. Someone was watching out for us. 

Decision... Moving On

The morning after the storm -- no icebergs arrived. We spent the morning seeing that the water and power were restored while debating whether we should stay at the cabin. We love the cabin, but maybe it's time to move on.

We packed everything up and went to breakfast to talk it over. We checked all of the iceberg sites and nothing appeared to be on the horizon. Decision made, time to move. Barbara had inquired about a new AirBNB on the Bonavista peninsula in an area that icebergs were had been spotted. As we packed the car to go, a pickup truck pulled up and 3 people jumped out, a couple and their guide. The couple ran to the deck of the cabin, excitedly looking for icebergs. The guide had told them this is where they would see them. Peter told them, there are no icebergs heres and the guide said, "Oh they're coming! 62 icebergs are on their way." And then they all jumped in the truck and left. We were once again faced with a dilemma -- do we believe this guy who is theoretically an expert (or huckster) or do we believe in our own convictions. We went with our gut and left -- a little bittersweet, we had planned to be here for the month.

On our drive south, we got a message from our next hosts Sheila and Chris, that there is an iceberg in the cove. We are excited at the news but pessimistic about what that really means.

Snow Storm in June

Relentless 50 MPH winds, sideways snow and sleet for almost 2 days. First we lost hot water, then we lost water, then we lost power. Did I mention the winds were relentless and howling? Cabins can shake, did you know that? The wind is coming from the Northeast -- should bring in a lot of icebergs. We are hopeful.


Weather is very cold and windy with horizontal rain, so I decided to work on some sketch ideas. I'm working with watercolor and pastel pencils. I brought the table for a very stable, make shift studio. 

Waiting for Icebergs

A variety of terrain, mostly rock, actually all rock up at Crow Head. Lots of exploring for locations for when these icebergs show up, I'll have interesting compositions. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

Being at the northern tip of a Peninsula, the weather changes very quickly.


The sunsets have been nothing short of amazing and infinite in variety. Watching the sun set is a serval hour experience, each night. The moods range and swing and change every moment as the sun slips behind the atmosphere -- each facet of the sun setting creates another universe.

Me in my sunset perch.

The next evening stages another spectacular show.