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.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The stones rise up in spring

Each spring, from deep within itself, earth pushes and pulls and groans and sighs.  And each spring, slowly, spring by spring, the stones emerge. 

Intense heat created the bedrock from which these stones come, back when McNutt's Island was part of Pangaea.  Then North America, Europe, and Africa were all one.  After Pangaea broke apart the molten bedrock cooled and hardened. Later, the Laurentian Ice Sheet slipped down from the north. Ice scoured the land, tearing up rock and slab, tossing it about to make this picturesque and deadly coastline. The ice retreated, and left behind a landscape of broken rock.  

Then gradually the earth warmed. Forests returned and their growth and decay laid down soil over the stones. But beneath the soil the stones remained. The early settlers on McNutt's Island -- the Old Fellers -- pulled them from the earth and tossed them in rows to clear their new fields, and also to build these walls, our reminders of their labour. 

But more stones remained beneath the earth. Each year's seasons of freeze and thaw continue to lift the stones slowly upward through the soil toward the surface. If you look closely at a stone embedded in the earth on the path to the fish house, you find a narrow dark band around the base, a newly exposed surface. There's a small gap around the stone where the ground has heaved and pulled away, making room for its passage into the light.  It's a sign of spring that you can barely see, when the stones rise up. 

Thanks to Terry Deveau for his email about the geology of McNutt's Island. You can read more in Robert M. Thorson's Stone By Stone: the magnificent history in New England's stone walls (Fitzhenry and Whiteside, 2002). 

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