In May 2011, after four years of life on McNutt's Island, we moved to Montreal. This blog remains, though, as a (sort of) daily record of our time on the island, and a winding path for anyone who would like to meander about among its magical places. For additional perspectives and insights I recommend Greg's book, Island Year: Finding Nova Scotia (2010), and my Bowl of Light (2012). I'll continue to post once in a while. If you do want to read this blog, one option would be to begin at the beginning of it (which is, as we all know, in blog-world, at the end), and read forward, concluding with the most recent entry. It's a journal, really, so it does makes more sense if you read it that way. But, you know, read it any way you like.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

To the lighthouse

The day was bright and still, though cold. I was surprised to see that the road to the light house was covered with snow and ice.  The snow had melted away around our house and down to the western shore.  But the road goes through the forest, and so things are different there. 

It was hard to walk in the snow since there was a crust of ice over the top. I had to watch where I was walking and concentrate.  The island was very still. Sometimes I could hear the sound of the lobster boats out in the channel or off the cape.  I was the loudest thing out by far, with my din of crunching snow. Had there been any wildlife near the road it would have been well warned.  Every once in a while I stopped to listen to the snow-covered silence that descended when I was not walking. Then I could hear a crow or a gull, or a small bird deeper in the forest. Deer tracks crossed the road, following their own way from one part of the forest to another.  The road means nothing to them.

I looked at the signs posted along the road: No Littering, Lighthouse 4 Km, sign without words. There are secret signs, too, that indicate entrances to interior paths: an orange surveyor’s ribbon tied to bush, an old red taillight.  Several streams have their source to the south of the island’s watershed on the east side of the road. They run beneath the road down toward the western side of the island.  From the road I gazed at mossy stream banks and a moss covered forest floor, bright light filtering through the spruces.    

At the side of the road in the middle of the island stands a curious tree. It is surrounded by water from multiple springs, so that it stands on a small island within an island. The tree’s root system must be covered by water most of the time.  This tree is a conifer, but its shape is reminiscent of a hardwood tree and it is bare of either needle or leaf.  From below you can look through the branches into the sky’s vast blue background. Gray-white cones adorn the branches like tiny dried roses or little jewels.  There’s a mysterious quality to this tree, growing in moss and isolated by gently running waters.   

Along the road are forests of miniature spruce seedlings.  The ice has melted around the little trees, leaving each one on its own warm island surrounded by a frozen sea.  Each little spruce tree is a tiny radiant life force.    

Getting to the light house was glorious: all sun and no snow there, the sea so pale and calm, the sky mirroring it, high and wide, with wispy long streaks of cloud. I sat on a boulder and watched serene-looking lobster boats, all different colours, some mere dots on the horizon, others nearby.  

After the warm sun at the lighthouse, I didn’t want to walk back through the cold icy forest along a road shadowed now with the gloomy light of a winter afternoon.  The return journey seemed much longer than the going out, even though I only retraced my steps. My occasional slips on the ice were a reminder to pay attention and not gawk so much or slide into useless meandering of thoughts as I often do.   

I read somewhere that the Nova Scotia forests are an essential part of the earth’s system of oxygenation, like the rain forests of the Amazon.  Walking through the island’s forested interior, I imagined the spirit of the world meditating on this mossy mat, breathing gently in and out. 

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