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.

Friday, June 12, 2009

A deepening sense of place

Front Cover
Harry Thurston's A Place Between the Tides: a naturalist's reflections on the salt marsh (Greystone Books, 2004) is writing locally at its best. Thurston structures his essays around the months of the year, focusing on the myriad of activities that take place within the Old Marsh on the banks of the tidal Tidnish River, outside of Amherst, where he lives with his wife and daughter. Essentially he is writing about his own backyard.

But the natural world outside his window also connects him with his experiences of childhood, when he lived with his family on a farm in Yarmouth County, near the Chebogue River, also a tidal river, and the salt marshes that bordered it. Like tidal waters, his narrative ebbs and flows between memoir and present experience, between the natural world he entered as a child and his encounters of it now, as an adult. The book eddies through the history and culture and sense of place in these two different parts of Nova Scotia, and it locates Nova Scotia itself within its greater context in the natural world's rhythm. His writing shines with respect and appreciation for all he remembers and observes, from the tiny salt marsh snail to the stranded minke whale.

This book is thoughtful and insightful and informative. I found myself reading it slowly, a bit at a time. It was a great pleasure to find myself with such a sure guide down these particular Nova Scotian pathways, in all their complexity and wonder.

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