Through Rain, Sleet and the Frosty Festival
Don’t forget, this series starts with “Oh Canada.” You might want to check it out.
Today I wake up (very late) to freezing rain being pounded against windows at 100km per hour. For the Americans, that’s 60 miles per hour. I was out quite late last night and it turns out I picked the right morning to sleep in. When I finally drag myself out of bed I’ve long missed one of the “B’s” in my B&B experience so I get a restaurant recommendation from Renee at the B&B. I end up at the Bagel Café just a couple of blocks from the B&B. I borrow an umbrella from the Gower House which, after one gust of wind, promptly flies out in a direction it’s not supposed to (sorry about the umbrella, Renee). I sit at a lovely table facing the blistering ice storm outside. This is one of those places you could spend some time in drinking coffee and having a hearty breakfast.
After gathering my courage I head out to brave the storm for the short walk back. Unfortunately, my snow boots aren’t so brave. While they’re good Columbia snow boots, they’ve been sitting in my 130 degree garage for a few years in the arid Phoenix climate for a few years. Apparently, this has dried out the rubber which, when walking in the half snow-covered, half flooded streets causes the boots to disintegrate with every step I take. By the time I arrive back at my B&B there’s very little rubber left on my boots and a ridiculous amount of freezing water inside my boots. Fabulous!
I head upstairs to climb under warm covers for my daily nap (apparently I’ve turned into a three year-old). At 4:00 I drag myself out of bed to get ready for an evening of volunteer work. I meet Janet Cull, one of the singers from Spirit of Newfoundland Productions based out of the Masonic Lodge and she drives me and Kelly Ann Evans, another singer, over to the city of Mt. Pearl, Newfoundland where they’ll be entertaining and I’ll be assisting with dinner at the Snowball Dinner and Dance at the Mt. Pearl Frosty Festival, a truly local experience.
After stopping for a traditional Tim Horton’s coffee on the way we arrive and I meet chef Daryl. He’s typical of most chefs I’ve worked with – high energy, passionate about the food he serves and the service of it, and the mouth of a sailor. I’m also introduced to a college student, also named Daryl who acts as Chef’s assistant (Hello, I’m Carole and this is my chef Daryl and my other chef Daryl). I’m immediately shown how to plate the desserts (uh, mouse in charge of the cheese) which is a Screech cake served with a rum caramel and raspberry sauce. Screech is a local rum made and served in Newfoundland and used in a ceremony called a Screech-In where one becomes an official Newfoundlander (sort of like a Bar Mitzvah Newfoundland style).
I channel my inner Picasso and try to squirt the sauces on the plates to look like a beautiful painting (they look more like bad Jackson Pollack’s than good Picasso’s). On goes the Screech cake and some sliced strawberries and dessert is ready. Now we just have to get through the dinner service. We have a production line and I’m plating turnips and carrots. It’s me, the two Daryl’s and some high-school kids who work as servers at the Masonic (they don’t know what to make of me). Chef gives us instructions, “Don’t serve any crap!” As we’re working the line, I tell them a bit of my story – why I’m here, what I’m doing – and I learn a bit about their lives in Newfoundland. Before you know it, all 360 people have been served.
We gather in the hallway in the back of the house and grab plates for ourselves (this causes flashbacks of my previous career in meeting and event planning). As we eat and chat, I encourage them to live lives of adventure and passion. I tell them that, while it’s important that they support themselves when they’re adults, they should find ways to explore the world and the people in it. One of the kids tells me I’m cool. Somehow it’s nice to be one of the cool kids even when in your forties. It turns out this kid is a philosopher with his commentary on his stuffed pork and veggie dinner saying passionately, “This is food for your brain but,” slapping is chest, “pizza is food for the soul.” I think he’s cool too.
We finish up and, when intermission is called, we begin busing tables. As I’ve not exactly packed clothes for this – I’m wearing dress pants and a nice black sweater, I’m hesitant to get sticky and gooey (yes, playing the princess card) and, after a few minutes of busing tables, I’m serving coffee and tea. I successfully pour tea and coffee for 15 tables without spilling on anyone (they’ll celebrate this feat as a national holiday in Canada for years to come).
Before you know it, the show is over and I’m being told that, although I’m volunteering, I’ll be included in the split of the tips. I let them know that it’s greatly appreciated but mine should be split amongst the kids doing the service. Kathy, the owner of the Masonic then offers me a complimentary dinner and a show the following evening at the Masonic Lodge.
Don’t forget to look for a profile of the Masonic Lodge and the fundraising effort they’re about to embark on to fix up this historic building. You’ll see it on www.Rebel-With-A-Cause.org in a week or so. Subscribe there and you’ll receive an E-mail when the article is up and running.