Posted in Creative writing, Nature

Place in words

Through the services of Inter-library loan, I received a copy of Peter Sanger’s book, Spar: words in place, published by Gaspereau Press in 2002.

It includes four essays: Biorachan Road, The Crooked Knife, Keeping: the Cameron Yard and Groundmass.

From his Foreword, “this collection speaks a word for Nature and that it does so in the spirit of sauntering“.

I was surprised to find the first essay ‘Biorachan Road’ covered part of the geography near Earltown. Heather and I had walked this section a few years ago, as part of our ‘Road to Georgetown ‘ project.

In the fourth essay, ‘Groundmass’, Sanger links a silvery-white translucent, vitreous, laminated rock that he found in a shed on his farm in South Maitland to the earlier science of Charles Lyell, Charles Darwin, William Dawson and to the poetry of Elizabeth Bishop ‘Crusoe in England‘. Sanger named the rock ‘spar’ from the Anglo-Saxon “spare” or “spaeren” meaning gypsum. There is much more to this essay, but for now, it gives an explanation of the title for this elegant, small collection of essays.

Cover_gettingOutOfTownIn Annapolis Royal at Bainton’s bookstore, I picked up Kent Thompson’s book Getting out of town by book and bike. It is an entertaining read, including the idea: “every now and again, I get on my bike and ride to a small town public library to look for Anna Karenina“. Thompson visits both the towns and writing of Ernest Buckler (Centrelea, West Dalhousie) and Elizabeth Bishop (Great Village). Writing of both EBs is of interest to me, and likely, to Nova Scotia.

cover_waterfallsOfNovaScotiaIn this same spirit, Heather was reading Waterfalls of Nova Scotia. It describes one hundred waterfalls. Number #19 is Eel Weir Brook Falls up behind Lawrencetown on South Mountain. While a short hike, it gave us an excuse to ‘get out of town’.

We can take this concept of ‘place in words’ a couple of steps further. If we fully appreciated the landscape, in terms of its geology, botany, zoology would we be quite so willing to remove the forest cover, to mine the bedrock? Perhaps, its time to resurrect, the works of Albert E. Roland. He made a significant contribution to our understanding of the geology, physiography and botany of this province. Would these words speak for Nature?


To Heather Stewart for the suggested waterfall hike. Also for access to her library, that includes the books by Albert Roland. Edward Wedler is on his way south to Florida yet we caught his graphics contribution.


Peter Sanger. 2002. Spar: words in place. Gaspereau Press.

Kent Thompson. 2001. Getting out of town by book and bike. Gaspeareau Press.

Benoit Lalonde. 2018. Waterfalls of Nova Scotia. A Guide. Goose Lane Editions.

Albert E. Roland.1982. Geological Background and Physiography of Nova Scotia. Nova Scotia Institute of Science.

Albert E. Roland and E.C. Smith. 1969. The Flora of Nova Scotia. Nova Scotia Museum.



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