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, October 27, 2010

cranberry walkabout

On the south side of the island, hoping for cranberries, I picked up the ghostly track of an ATV. Maybe it was our own from this time last year. I doubt if anyone has come there since. I followed it, walking through a low scrum of bayberry and juniper and cotton grass and dried fern, around stands of spruce and up a gentle crest. Surrounded by the forest and the sea and hidden in a low place, the bog becomes visible only when you are upon it. Like so much on the island, if you don't know where to look you will only discover it by accident. And if, having found it, you fail to take sufficient note of where you are, you may not find it again.

Once I was in the bog I tiptoed about in my rubber boots, a curious giantess, and bent down and squatted so I could peer closely at this world. Everywhere I looked I saw the basal leaves of the pitcher plant, plump veined red teacups. Each one now held a thimble-full of some dark shining brew. The pitcher plant seems to have had a very good year in this bog. I might have come upon the last touches for an end-of-season tea-party about to be tossed by the local fairies for a few invited flies. While I admired the cunning place-settings, the guests, abuzz, were at home donning their iridescent wings and polishing their heads.

Even though it is a small enough place -- maybe four or five acres altogether -- and even though you can see all the way across it no matter where you are standing, still, it's easy to lose your way in the bog. Somehow you are never quite where you had thought you were. You look up from peering into its watery pathways and glinty pools and rumpled velvet moss to find yourself somewhere else entirely. How did I get over here when I was just over there, you wonder. I think there may be some shape-shifting that befalls the bog visitor, which can be disconcerting unless you begin to go with it.

It is easy to forget that, like a reasonable person, I have come here for a reason. I remember from last year's search that to see these cranberries I will need to adjust my expectations. I won't be looking for the colour we call cranberry. Instead, I'm after a glimpse of dull purplish bloom only a few shades darker than the pitcher plant's teacups. I remember Peter's rule for seeing whales in the summer. "Go up to the lighthouse four or five times in July," he said, "and look out to sea, and I guarantee you, if you do that four or five times, on one of those trips you'll see a whale."

Peter's rule applies to cranberries too (and maybe to other things as well). I spied one, then another, then another, until I had gathered a handful in my cupped palm. If I bent down to look four or five times, on one of those times I'd begin to find them lying quietly about here and there, attached to a delicate green thread, a dark jewel set on a bracelet of tiny green leaves, bog treasure.


Piecefulafternoon said...

I like that "look 5 times" rule - we could apply that so many places.

yourgogirl said...

Ahhhhhh...... so lovely.