South Brook, NL

A low and impenetrable mist clogs up the fjords of Gros Morne National Park. It is so thick, so pervasive, that the landscape appears to have recently experienced a downpour. A pine branch sparkles, its needles covered in refracting orbs of water that magnify and distort the bulbous nose that will collide with them a few seconds later. The misty mis-en-place does not charm the moose, nor does the opaque air make its poor eyesight any worse. It is huge, indomitable, apathetic. Water droplets patter on chocolate-pudding earth as the animal vandalizes another tree with its face. It is difficult to believe that these creatures did not live on Newfoundland until a century ago, when they were introduced as a food source. While they have certainly become a food source, they seem to have turned the island's forests into their own food source and gotten the better end of the deal.

In the campground, a conversation about cultural differences under a sky so clear galaxies are readily seen. Similarities between the United States and Canada are so extensive that differences become all the more interesting. Is it fair to generalize about national characters? Do Americans have a darker outlook? Are they morbidly fascinated by dreams of apocalypse and judgement? Is this fixation unhealthy or do are they realistically appraising a declining nation, a threadbare morality, and a poisoned environment? Why don't Canadians seem to be talking about millenarian disasters? "I don't think it's any different," a Canadian says. "Not long ago, I got caught in traffic just underneath a railroad overpass. As I was stuck there, a train come overhead. Everything shook. You couldn't hear anything. And all I could think was: it's going to come off the tracks and fall on me. It's going to come off the tracks and crush me. And I'm stuck here in traffic."