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, September 4, 2012

time to celebrate

I'm so glad to have completed the history of the lighthouse and the island. It's ready to send off to the folks at The Nova Scotia Museum, who so kindly granted me research funds for the project a little over a year ago.  I hope I'll be able to share it more widely eventually, in some format or another. But for now, it's good to be finished.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

McNutt's Island in Ottawa

Now that I'm an official dropout from l'école Centre Lartigue (mais j'ai completé niveau 5, alors je comprends plus qu'il y a un an, quand j'ai compris rien -- je suppose que c'est quelque chose-là ), I have the energy and time to return to McNutt's Island. Not physically, of course. But, you know, in my mind.  The way most people visit.

I have this research project, a history of the lighthouse, that the Nova Scotia Museums gave me a grant to do, last year, just before we had to leave the island. It's probably half-way finished now, and for the next few months it's going to be my main focus.

So last week I took a bus up to Ottawa, to see what the Library and Archives Canada had on McNutt's. I wasn't too optimistic. The federal holdings on this out-of-the-way place, I thought, would be slender. If I discovered any gold, or even silver, or maybe copper, I'd be happy. Mostly I thought I'd confirm that there wasn't much there.

And it's true that what I found was slender. It's not that there isn't federal material about obscure places. The lighthouse at Sandy Point, for example, which is the closest lighthouse to Cape Roseway, down at the opening of Shelburne's inner harbour. There's a huge folder, two inches thick, the government's reaction to an anonymous letter accusing the lightkeeper there of selling and bartering the federal oil he stored for the operation of the light. Oh, it's a wonderful file, filled with spite and blame and wounded innocence and little tiny stories that shine into the corners of life in a Nova Scotia hamlet at the end of the nineteenth century. They just aren't about McNutt's Island. Unfortunately for me either the lightkeepers of McNutt's were always terribly upright, or their neighbours were terribly uninterested in unleashing the scrutiny of the federal government upon them all.

Or take the applications for a post office. As I scrolled through the microfilm I became increasingly hopeful. Some applications, even from the smallest places, came complete with lists of petitioners and a cogent argument for why a post office was so very desperately necessary to the workings of some remote Nova Scotia village. Sometimes there was even a small hand-drawn map of surpassing beauty and detail. But when I finally scrolled my way to the McNutt's file it just said that the application had been accepted, and there would be a post office there starting soon. (Well, it said a bit more than that, and there's another file I've had to request because for some odd reason it's closed to public view, which I hope bodes well as long as eventually the guardians of the federal papers allow me to take a look).

Still, over all, there were bits and pieces, gleanings left along the edges for me to find and pick up, and I hope I didn't miss anything really huge. I loved the archives in Ottawa: it's a beautiful place, with wide banks of windows overlooking the river, Quebec stretching away after that. It's open until something like ten or eleven o'clock most nights. And the archivists were fantastic.  

I noticed while I was there that I've been in a time warp about research. Every other researcher was clicking away at documents with their cameras, or using their USB sticks to suck stuff off the computer and cart it off. I came with some pencils and a pad of paper. Next time I'll be more up to date. 

Sunday, March 25, 2012

paperback writer

Now you can order Bowl of Light in a paperback format, here. Or you could ask your library to order it, or your local bookstore. The Kindle version is another way to go, for which see the post below. But a paperback offers you that yesteryear experience of holding a book in your hand and turning pages, or lending it to somebody.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Bowl of Light is available now

You can go here to buy Bowl of Light as an e-book. At that same site, you can download a free Kindle app that allows you to read e-books on your computer. It's a very nice app if you don't have a Kindle but still want to get the book.

The book made-of-paper will be ready in the next week or so. I'll post about it when it's available.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

launching a Bowl of Light

After dillying and dallying around about a book I've decided to just go ahead and publish it on my own. So, it's an e-book, called Bowl of Light, and it will be available through Kindle Books on in the next few days.

I'm quite happy with this book, which is a collection of essays, most of which began their lives as blog posts. The book is a whole nother kettle of fish from the blog. The strengths of a blog come from its immediacy and the sense that every day offers some surprising new variable. The strengths of a book come from a greater sense of coherence and maybe a greater reflective quality. Also, just as a music video may take away from the experience of a song by limiting the hearer's imagination, a blog's images can sometimes diminish the imaginative power of the written word.

On the home front, I think our grieving over the island is drawing to a close. I find that my gratitude for the experience has begun to outweigh my sadness over its loss. And here in Montreal, the epic struggle between light and darkness appears to have been decided in favour of light, once again. It's still cold, but the days are getting longer.