Wander. Wonder. Run like hell.
Those three small but powerful commands, coupled with a a love for Branch that could only be described as eccentrically obsessive, drove the creation of this blog.
Late last Winter, when Alaskan reality shows had taken over the airwaves and we watched drama after drama ensue over an abandoned mine in a place called Mccarthy, Alaska, a mysterious young woman appeared on the show. Being a bit newsy, I googled her to find out what she was doing in Alaska...on a reality show.
It turns out that she is a talented photographer and writer who moves from place to place, country to country , exploring, understanding, wandering. Her photographs speak of an urgency to not only see the world but to feel it. Her blog, aptly called The Art of Leaving, represented a curious and evocative experience.
But those three little requests....wander, wonder, run like hell. Oh how they had made me think.
The Gut...and Me
Just a little about the creator of this blog, only to help anyone who might happen to read it understand the origin of these thoughts and words.
I'm Priscilla Corcoran Mooney. I'm 40 years old and for just about all of those 40 years, I have lived in my beloved Branch, St. Mary's Bay. There were a few (nine!) years that saw me spend time in St. Johns to go to school but even during that time, I was home at every opportunity.
I am married to the nicest man in Canada, as my mother called him, Chris Mooney, also from Branch (from the Cove) and we live contentedly on the edge of the red point. Chris is an interpretive naturalist at Cape St. Mary's and also coaches (very well I might add) the senior boys basketball team at our local school, Fatima Academy.
By day, I'm a social worker in Placentia working primarily in community development with a giant interest in poverty and health. By night, I am a tea drinker and hopeful writer.
While my adult life has taken me to the beautiful Easter' Cove of Branch, I grew up to the Gut, the heart of our community, anchored by the sea, the wharf and God. I am the youngest of eight children. My mother, a fish plant worker and community activist and my father, a fisherman, taught me from a very young age to be geuniuly proud of being from a rural community. This fierce sense of place and pride translated into my two term run at being mayor, a job that taught me to be even more grateful for living in my home community. My parents love for Branch followed me throughout my life. As a teenager and later, as a university student, success was never equated with leaving home.
Epiphany on Wicklow Street
In 2003, Chris and I decided with full hearts and a boatload of determination that we would move home....to stay. I had just finished school and Chris was working at DFO. Purposely abandoning what was for us, a hollow dream of living in town and coming home on the weekends, we made major plans that allowed us to make Branch our home for the rest of our days. Chris quit his job at DFO and accepted a job at Cape St. Mary's. I completed two of my work terms in Placentia, hoping to find a job there, only an hour away from Branch.
I describe this not to create a nostalgic story of coming home to rural Newfoundland, but only to highlight that luck had very little to do with our living in Branch. Instead, we made decisions that would allow us to "live the lives we'd imagined", to come home.
We are blessed to live in Branch. We know that. Every time we look out over the bay in the morning, be it thick black with fog or with the sun sparkling on the water, we feel that blessing in our hearts.
Seeing the world. And then coming home.
We love to travel. This year, we have visited five countries and look forward to our next adventure. There's a map above our bed reminding us of where we have been and the places we can't wait to see. The sight of a plane in the sky sometimes makes me weak with excitement.
While we're away, I wait for the moment when someone questions, "Where are you from? Where is that accent from?" What follows is delightful. Chris first responds by saying "Branch". There is no mention of Canada, no mention of Newfoundland and Labrador. He then proceeds to reveal his Newfoundland tattoo, kindly providing a bit of context. And then he displays the tattoo of the Hagers Rock with "Branch" written boldly on his arm. Even in Berlin, we sang the praises of home!
But as we much as we like to go, coming home is as exciting and refreshing and necessary as the journeys that take us to these places.
The Art of Staying
So why this blog? Why The Art of Staying? Because there is an art to staying. There's an art to keeping that fire burning in your heart that honestly says "I love my community and that's where I want to live", to not allowing that fire to be dampened. There's an art to making the plans that allow your dream of coming home to happen someday. There's an art to staying once you arrive, in realizing that an every day trip to Costo or Walmart or even Sobey's isn't a reality nor a necessity. There's an art in feeling the beauty of being able to dart along to see your family whenever you want for a cup of tea and a chat, in appreciating the value of knowing every face and place.
Yes, there is an art in staying and I hope, over the life course of this blog, to share some of those thoughts with you. There will be weeks when the posts are a bit off topic, but hopefully interesting all the same.
I will also share with you that I have never mastered the art of typing so....if you see a little typo, keep reading!
Unlike many bloggers, I'm not connected to social media of but I do invite you to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with any ideas.
Thanks for reading!