Posted in Creative writing

Tidal Bore and Tidal Lore

Sanger in his essay, Groundmass, describes the tidal bore on the Shubenacadie River from the diaries of Charles Lyell and William Dawson (p.83). He also links the phenomena to the Elizabeth Bishop’s poem The Moose p.84.

Last week, we attended a meeting of the Paradise Historical Society. Aaron Taylor gave a presentation on ‘Where did the First People live before the Europeans came? What patterns can be found that might predict these locations in our area?” Aaron described the results of his archaeological research on Paradise riverside land. In particular on the properties of Jack Pearle and David Whitman.

Much of the discussion concerned the location of the tide head on the river. This brings fish species on the tide up into the river valley. Today, of course, we have the tidal power dam on the river at Annapolis Royal. Imagine if we had the same natural conditions today between the Annapolis Basin (Bay of Fundy) and the Annapolis River.

This week, I was able to pick up three books by William Inglis Morse from the Frank Morse library in Lawrencetown. In Acadian Lays and other verse, the poem The Call of the Marsh Hen (p.8)

In creaking flight the marsh-hen flies
Along the old French road, where the vale of Paradise
And gently down from the ancient hills a rippling stream
Doth wend its way to song and Acadian dream”.

There is a footnote. ‘The location of the old French road is near the confluence of the Annapolis River and the Paradise Brook, Nova Scotia,. The tides, freshets and the lapse of time have practically obliterated this way, leaving only a few traces across the interval of marshy land’.

in Genealogie (p.24) we find a photograph of Burn Brae. It is still recognizable as the house on the Morse Estate.

From his poem, ‘Acadia’ p9.

Land of the dark forest and mountain
And tides that surging flow,
Land of the murmuring pine tree
And the romance of long ago.

Evidence suggests that both the Mi’kmaq and the French Acadians were intimately familiar with the relationship between the Fundy tides and the river systems of Nova Scotia. They located their settlements, permanent or seasonal, to take advantage of the concentration of the fish stocks in the rivers.


To John Wightman for sharing his copy of William Inglis Morse Limited Edition book.

Thanks to Edward Wedler for finding the video of the tidal bore on the Shubenacadie River.


Peter Sanger.2002. Spar: Words in Place. Gaspereau Press.

Elizabeth Bishop. 1983. The Complete Poems. p 169

William Inglis Morse 1908.Acadian Lays and other verse. William Briggs, Toronto

William Inglis Morse (ed). 1925. Genealogiae or data concerning the families of Morse, Chipman, Phinney, Ensign and Whiting. Nathan Sawyer, Boston. Limited Edition 200 copies.

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.


Posted in Creative writing

Local Geography

Last week, we held a board meeting of the Ernest Buckler Literary Event Society (EBLES) at Lunn’s Mill beer company in Lawrencetown. The society supports biennial events in celebration of local writers. Afterwards, the topic of the Morse Estate in Paradise came up, and whether it was the model for the ‘secluded country guesthouse’ described in Buckler’s book The Cruelest Month.

This set me on a quest. map_Hunter_1000w

The Morse Estate has been renamed Burnbrae Farm and Paradise Inn. Consequently, I dropped in, to meet the owners: Erik and Simone Wasiliew. They run it as a Bed and Breakfast. Recently, they have also purchased the adjacent Camp Hillis, a residential facility from the provincial government, and plan to integrate it back into the estate.

From my visit, I learned some of the histories of the Morse Estate, as well as an appreciation of the vision of the new owners.

In the book, one of the characters is Morse Halliday (perhaps a clue). The guesthouse is called ‘Endlaw’, an anagram of Thoreau’s Walden.

Clearly, Paradise is changing. Across the Annapolis River, we find the new Paradise Cafe. Jack Pearle, who farms on Paradise Lane, has a new produce stand on the Highway #201.

To learn more about the history of the houses in Paradise, stop at the Community Hall. For each house, there is a short history, photograph and ownership information. This year also sees the establishment of the Paradise Historical Society. Every August, the Hankinsons at Ellenhurst, stage the Moonlight concert.

My link to the village of Paradise is through Raymond Hunter. Raymond and Rona lived on the corner of Paradise Lane, opposite Jack Pearle. Later, they moved east along Highway #201 towards Lawrencetown, where Raymond planted an organic orchard. That is where we enter the story. We are picking the orchard and maintaining its organic status

bookCover_cruelestMonthIt is awesome to imagine an event at Burnbrae Farm and Paradise Inn that looks at Buckler’s book The Cruelest Month in its modern context. Ideally, in April, which Buckler defined as the cruelest month. Now, its time to re-read the book.


Anne Crossman and Jane Borecky, both Board members of EBLES, for their conversation and support. To Erik and Simone Wasiliew, Burnbrae Farm for their hospitality. Sandra Barry for sending me the link to the Elizabeth Bishop poem, The Map. And Edward Wedler for his illustration.


Ernest Buckler. 1963. The Cruelest Month. McClelland and Stewart Ltd.

Burnbrae Farm/Paradise Inn. go to


Through the Annapolis Valley Regional Library Interlibrary loan service, I have received a copy of Elizabeth Bishop’s book Geography III. It includes ten of her poems, published in 1976. The frontispiece makes reference to  ‘First Lessons in Geography’. Monteith’s Geographical Series. Published by A.S. Barnes & Co. 1884. Lesson VI: What is Geography ? Lesson X: What is a Map ? Bishop was familiar with this book in her childhood.

Answers. A description of the Earth’s surface. A picture of the whole or part of the Earth’s surface. Check the link above, to read Elizabeth Bishop’s poem The Map.


Posted in Creative writing, Poetry

Geography III: place, writing and maps

elizabethBishopAndHouseAt the end of last week, we decided to take a trip along the Parrsboro shore, primarily to check out the Fundy Geological Museum. On our way home, we stopped at Great Village, Nova Scotia. This community was of interest; it was the childhood home of the late poet, Elizabeth Bishop. On Friday afternoon, there was a poetry reading at St James Church; there was a self-guided tour of the village available; and one could see the Elizabeth Bishop House, now an artist’s retreat.

elizabethBishopinParisAt the church, I picked up a copy of the brochure Elizabeth Bishop’s Paris. This small brochure describes two visits to Paris in the mid-1930’s. Interestingly, it includes a map of central Paris, identifying locations visited by Bishop and Louise Crane. The map also shows the location of the first conference on Elizabeth Bishop in France. Elizabeth Bishop in Paris: Spaces of Translation and Translations of Space. 6-8 June 2018. The text was written by Jonathan Ellis, Sheffield University.

A second publication, that I purchased, was Echoes of Elizabeth Bishop. To celebrate the Elizabeth Bishop Centenary (2011), the Elizabeth Bishop Society of Nova Scotia (EBSNS) hosted a one-time short prose competition, asking participants to write about their own sense of place. There were five categories: Elementary (Grade 4-6), Junior High (Grade 7-9), Senior High (Grade 10-12), Post-secondary, Open (19 years or older). EBSNS published the winning entries, edited by Sandra Barry and Laurie Gunn. The book was typeset and printed by Gaspereau Press.

EBSNS maintains a website and published an annual newsletter. On the website, under the Media tab, there is a podcast of Claire Miller reading In the Village.

Geography III was Bishop’s final book of poems, published in 1976. On his website, Michael Ollinger, Digging into the earth’s surface: pondering Geography III by Elizabeth Bishop states:

“To describe the planet aptly is one thing, but to understand one’s place is another one altogether. The poems of Elizabeth Bishop’s Geography III go beyond mere description of the earth’s surface and delve into how geography defines not only where we are on the planet, but also who we are”.

” The phenomena of contextualizing  oneself in the world points to why Elizabeth Bishop may have chosen to title the collection Geography III as opposed to Geography I or Geography II; the geographies presented in the poems are more than just a description of the earth’s surface”

In my blog title, I have reinterpreted Geography III as “place, writing and maps“.

I hope you enjoy these links to the work of Elizabeth Bishop and appreciate the remarkable efforts of the EBSNS to connect her work to Great Village, Nova Scotia.

Thanks to Edward Wedler for the graphics, and Heather Stewart, my travel companion.

Postscript. The EBSNS is an excellent model for EBLES (Ernest Buckler Literary Event Society), of which, I am a Board member.


Elizabeth Bishop Society of Nova Scotia (EBSNS)

Elizabeth Bishop. 1976. Geography III. Farrah, Straus and Giroux, New York.

Elizabeth Bishop’s Paris. 2018. Brochure. Text by Jonathan Ellis, Sheffield University.

Sandra Barry and Laurie Gunn (eds.) 2013. Echoes of Elizabeth Bishop. Elizabeth Bishop Centenary (2011) Writing Competition. Published by EBSNS, Great Village, NS.

Michael Ollinger  Digging into the earth’s surface: pondering Geography III by Elizabeth Bishop. Posted March25, 2009. Check the Poetry tab at


Posted in Creative writing

A Sense of Well-Being

Summertime is a time for family. IMG_0713

Every couple of years, we bring everyone together from Vancouver, Iqaluit and Ontario; this year for a few days at Pictou Lodge. It is a time to shake up the ‘old routine’.

Here are a few examples.

There is the opportunity to share newly discovered places in the region: to enjoy the excellent seafood chowder and lobster rolls at the cafe in Hillsburn; or an excuse to go to the End of the Line pub to watch World Cup soccer, or to check out the new British fare at the Paradise Cafe on the weekend. Or to walk up the road to Lunn’s Mill for the beer, but stay for the food.

With children and grandchildren, we have to revisit the concept of the ‘electronic cottage’. Internet service is poor in rural Nova Scotia. Not that simple. “How come Grandad’s iPad cannot access Netflix but more recent devices can. Well, he bought it in 2011.” The solution: buy a new iPad with the latest operating system. Oh yes, and if you want to use the flat screen TV, why not purchase Google Chromecast. Of course, the biggest challenges are all the passwords for the Apple store, Google, Netflix etc.

For the ‘wanna-be’ farmer, it is wonderful to access the youthful confidence on the tractor. We can go down and bush-hog the lower field, move the rocks from the field boundary up to the side of the pond or lift the pallet of earthworm casts to the orchard. It still leaves me with a mowed cord-wood road to bring out next year’s Winter wood supply.

We watched, as there was a need to ‘mouse-proof’ the barn. Now we need new gutters for the barn. Let’s put gutters on the garage too. We can capture the rainwater for watering the garden.

It brings into your life, the task-driven urgency experienced in our cities every day. Yesterday, we were able to get a car window repaired in Middleton, pick up water-testing bottles at the hospital in Windsor, go to the Apple Store at Halifax Shopping Centre, and still have time to drop into the Source in Bridgetown for the Chromecast purchase.

Altogether, this has set me up for today’s blog. That is without mention of the dry soil, unpredictable rainfall, weeding, or need to pick green beans, peas and gooseberries.

Final message. Don’t be fooled into thinking that the arrival of the Internet is the panacea to all of our rural economic issues. The Internet is simply part of the Infrastructure. In addition, you need access to other devices; you need access to applications that are relevant to your lifestyle, and you need connections with others who have knowledge and solutions from other places. And you must be able to embrace ‘change’. That all together, can lead to ‘a sense of well-being’

In advance, I want to thank Edward Wedler, Heather Stewart and family for their encouragement, creativity and continued support.

Posted in Creative writing, Event Review

The Five Little Pigs

Do you remember the children’s’ nursery rhyme ‘ The Five Little Pigs’? Counted out on the toes or fingers of the child.

“This little pig went to market. This little pig stayed home. This little pig had roast beef. This little pig had none. This little pig went wee-wee all the way home.’ Here are my five little pigs.5pigs

  1. new drone video from Neil Green of forest cutting above the Inglisville road. You can compare it with the video shot in January.
  2. This Saturday evening there is Nature Night at Sugar Moon Farm. It includes talks by Dale Prest, Community Forests International, Greg Watson from North Nova Forestry Co-operative (NNFC) and Tom Miller, Friends of Red Tail. The event is designed to engage Nova Scotia’s small private woodlot owners in the fight against climate change. We are members of the NNFC and will attend.
  3. David MacLean at COGS sent me a link to the work of Scott Morehouse at Esri on ArcHUB. This is of interest for two reasons. ArcHUB is an industry-driven approach to the Community Information Utility concept. At the end of the article, there is a link to a video where Scott describes his early beginnings in GIS. This time frame coincides with the history of COGS.
  4. Yesterday I bumped into Wayne Regier. Wayne worked with me at AGRG.  He explained that there is now the EAT lab at NSCC, Middleton. EAT is Environmental and Agricultural Technologies.  There is the likelihood that the climate network established by David Colville will be extended across the province. This makes tremendous sense in the light of climate change. Secondly, the Lab is using drone and soil sensor networks to monitor the condition of vineyards in the province. Both excellent, supportable initiatives.
  5. Finally, I have now finished Nicholas Crane ‘s book The Making of the British Landscape. I have been lugging this tome around for the last month or so. It covers the last ten thousand years. In the last chapter, Crane talks about the changes in the British urban landscape over the last hundred years, post the industrial revolution and post the second world war. It reminded me how much land use is impacted by our industrial economy. This linked, in my mind, to Closure, Dick Groot’s photographic exhibit in Windsor on the demise of manufacturing in Nova Scotia. I plan to see his exhibit this Friday at the Cedar Centre in Windsor.

These are my ‘five little pigs’. I shall be able to report back on #2 and #5 next week. I have started to read Simon Winchester’s book. Unfortunately, the style is rather pedantic; however, I shall persevere, because I am interested in the field work necessary to produce that first Geology map of the United Kingdom. I think that I now understand why I could go to two second-hand bookstores and find the same book!

Not exactly sure, what the symbolism might be about those five pigs.


Neil Green video link

Nature Night at Sugar Moon Farm

Link to ArcHUB

Nicholas Crane. 2016. The Making of the British Landscape. From the Ice Age to the Present. Weidenfeld and Nicholson. Chapter 22 Interland 1920-2016.

Simon Winchester. 2001. The Map that changed the World. William Smith and the birth of Modern Geology. Harper Collins.

Posted in Creative writing

Geobiography and the Annapolis Valley

Scenes from the Annapolis Valley, Nova Scotia

Wendell Berry’s book The Art of the Commonplace is a collection of agrarian essays covering a thirty year period. The first essay, A Native Hill under the section heading: Geobiography, describes Berry’s relationship to the land in Kentucky. As Norman Wirzba writes in the Introduction:

Our lives are always rooted in a natural and cultural community, so that to cut ourselves off from these roots, whether that be in the name of progress or human liberation, is to ensure the eventual withering and then death of life‘ (page ix).

Or more directly in Berry’s own words, when talking about his decision to move back to Kentucky from the academic world of New York.

Before coming back I had been willing to allow the possibility – which one of my friends insisted upon –  that I already knew this place as well as ever I would. But now I began to see the real abundance and richness of it all. It is, I saw inexhaustible in its history, in the details of its life, in its possibilities. I walked over it, looking, listening, smelling, touching, alive to it as never before. I listened to the talk of my kinsmen and neighbours as I never had done, alert to their knowledge of the place, and to the qualities and energies of their speech. I began more seriously than ever to learn the names of things – the wild plants and animals, the natural processes, the local places – and to articulate my observations and memories.’ (page 7).

If one was going to attempt a geobiography of the Annapolis Valley, how might you go about it ? One approach, which occurred to me while I was listening to a CBC podcast ‘Writers and Company with Eleanor Wachtel. It was broadcast on December 1/2017. It was an interview with Richard Holmes reflecting on his life as a Romantic biographer. Holmes was talking about his recent memoir This Long Pursuit.

‘If we have any hope of making a better world, he argues ‘we must understand it both scientifically and imaginatively’.

This offers direction, if we want to describe the Annapolis Valley.

From my personal perspective, I would likely transpose ‘Geobiography ‘, and think in terms of ‘Biogeography’. This feeds back into my unpublished Ph.D thesis, The Nature of Biogeography from the mid seventies.

First, we must define the Annapolis Valley. It is a physiographic unit. It includes both North and South Mountain, the Annapolis River valley, and the Bay of Fundy shore. One of my challenges with the Valley REN (regional enterprise network) is that because of history and municipal politics, it does not include Annapolis County or Annapolis Royal.

I think that a geobiography (biogeography) would focus on stories related to the earth’s surface (land and sea), the qualities of the natural landscape, how they have changed over time, how the different inhabitants have been an integral part of this landscape. It would look at the ecological relationships:plants, animals, geology, soils, climate and the various migrations.

Returning to Wendell Berry, in another book What are People for ?

With reference to Maria Popova Brainpickings site, she has a quotation that I like:

‘Wendell Berry on Solitude, and why Pride and Despair are the two great enemies of Creative Work’


Wendell Berry. 2002. The Art of the Commonplace.The Agrarian Essays of Wendell Berry. Counterpoint, Berkeley, California

Wendell Berry. 1990. What are People for ? Counterpoint, Berkeley, California.
Eleanor Wachtel. 2017. CBC Radio. Writers and Company. December 1,2017. Richard Holmes reflects on his life as a ‘Romantic biographer’.
Richard Holmes. 2016. This Long Pursuit. Harper Collins, London.
Robert Maher 1976. The Nature of Biogeography. Unpublished Ph.D thesis. Department of Geography, University of Western Ontario.





Posted in Creative writing

Apple Pressing and the Ghost Orchard

apple_2Richard Sennett says it well in the Acknowledgements to his book The Craftsman, “Making is Thinking’. This week, we have been busy pressing apples and making it into sweet cider.

We started with thirty five bushel boxes of MacFree apples. It is a three step process: cutting, grinding and pressing. The apples need to be quartered before putting through the grinder. One box of apples fills a twenty litre container of ground apples for press. The pressing is done with a hand ratchet press. The end result is forty five, two litre containers of sweet apple cider. On good day, we were able to complete three pressings.


What did we learn ?

Most of our learning was about the qualities of the different apple varieties. Our orchard has four varieties: NovaMac, Liberty, MacFree and Nova Spy.

NovaMac is an early variety. It is a cross between the Nova and the MacIntosh. Talking to Brian Boates from Woodville, he confirmed that this variety ripens quickly and drops soon thereafter. Liberty, (we only have one tree), produces early, deep red apples. MacFree is a later variety. This was our primary cider apple. It keeps well in storage. It is a cross between a MacIntosh and Freedom. Finally, NovaSpy, another cross between the Nova and the Spy, is a late apple. We can leave these trees until the end of the harvest season. Liberty and Freedom are brother and sister varieties.

We found Tom Burford ‘s book, Apples of North America  an excellent resource, describing one hundred and ninety two varieties.

In September, Helen Humphreys was interviewed on the CBC. She is the author of The Ghost Orchard. (Fortunately, Bill Crossman loaned me a copy of her new book.) It is creative, non-fiction. Starting with the White Winter Pearmain, Humphreys’ researches the history of apples in North America. There are multiple stories: about the white settlers (Ann Jessom) planting orchards in the late eighteenth century; the watercolour artists who drew the illustrations in support of the US Department of Agriculture catalogue of seventeen thousand varieties of apple on the continent. Humphreys also describes the relationship between the poet, Robert Frost and Edward Thomas and their walks through orchards in England, at the time of the first World war. Part of Frost’s legacy was to plant new orchards in the United States, towards the end of his life (late 1950’s).

His poem caught my mood. Here are the first eight lines.

After Apple-Picking

My long two-pointed ladder’s sticking through a tree
Towards heaven still,
And there’s a barrel that I didn’t fill
Besides it, and there may be two or three
Apples I didn’t pick upon some bough.
But I am done with apple-picking now.
Essence of winter sleep is on the night,
The scent of apples: I am drowsing off.

For the complete poem, go to



Tom Burford. 2013. Apples of North America. Timber Press, London

Julian Gwyn 2014. Comfort Me with Apples. The Nova Scotia Fruit Growers’ Association. 1863-2013. Lupin Press. Berwick, NS. This book gives a local context.

Helen Humphreys. 2017. The Ghost Orchard. The Hidden History of the Apple in North America. Harper Collins.

Robert Frost check

Richard Sennett 2008. The Craftsman. Yale University Press, New Haven.




Posted in Creative writing

Two books and a thought

The Newfoundland ferry docks at North Sydney. This gave me the opportunity to stop at a couple of my favourite shops in Sydney. First stop, was Ed’s second-hand book store where for two dollars I purchased Larry Mc Cann (ed.) People and Place. Studies in Small Town Life in the Maritimes. Later, I had a coffee at Doktor Luke’s, which also has second-hand books. There, I picked up a copy of David Ehrenfeld’s book Beginning Again. People and Nature in the New Millennium.

The McCann book was published in 1987. It contains a wide range of essays by faculty at Mount Allison. The essays are divided into three categories: Casting the Pattern, the Passing of Traditional Society, and Contemporary Small Town Life. Besides the book title, the essays that caught my attention were:

Carrie MacMillan. Seaward Vision and a Sense of Place. the Maritime Novel 1880-1920.

Eric Ross. The Rise and Fall of Pictou Island.

While I had a copy of Ehrenfeld’s book at home, I had not previously noticed his chapter on ‘The Roots of Prophecy: Orwell  and Nature’. This seemed serendipitous.

I had specifically called my blog site: the Ernest Blair experiment. Ernest celebrates Ernest Buckler. Blair recognizes Eric Blair aka George Orwell.

Ehrenfeld talks about the three qualities that Orwell used in his analysis of the changing life of his, and our times. The first is honesty. The second is reliability/continuity/durability/resilience . And finally, the third property of nature important to Orwell is beauty and serenity.

“Orwell had two visions of utopia: one, a vision of a world in which nature is cherished and improved by a gentle and caring human civilization, and the other a vision of a world in which people treat each other decently and fairly, without exploitation.

Ultimately, as we see in The Road to Wigan Pier, the two visions came together in the picture of a ‘simpler’, ‘harder’ predominantly agricultural way of life in which the machine is present, but under human control and ‘progress’ is not definable as making the world safe for little fat men. A world in which progress, itself, is not a form of exploitation.” Ehrenfeld see page 27.

Thought: “Living in the Moment”

Does this concept change as you get older ? That is, you have a finite number of moments. Can you replace living in the moment  (time) with living in the place (space) ?Why do older people go on cruises ? Change the place; change the moment.                      Its time/space. Not time or space.

What is the meaning of going back to visit old haunts ? Realize changing time, but same space ? Not really, spaces (landscapes) change too!

The value of a long term relationship with a place e.g. a garden. Growing things, different seasons.

Why in youth, keep moving ? Different spaces. Living in different moments  Are we trying to extend the good moments. No, trying to find the right space. Is it the moment or is it the sense of being able to change or control ?  Is there a progression as you age ?  The changing perception of time/space, over a lifetime or over a lifespace.


Larry McCann (editor). 1987. People and Place. Studies of Small Town Life in the Maritimes. Acadiensis Press. Mount Allison University.

David Ehrenfeld.1993. Beginning Again. People and Nature in the New Millennium. Oxford University Press.

George Orwell. 1937. The Road to Wigan Pier. Gollancz Press.



Posted in Creative writing

The Valley Region of the Mind

Donald Savoie in his recent book, Looking for Bootstraps and subsequent commentaries on regional development in the Chronicle Herald talks about:

startButton_annapolisValley” the business community, not just governments, has a responsibility for turning the region into something more than a region of the mind. Community institutions need to step up and contribute to the region’s economic development.” (July 29/17 Chronicle Herald F3).


From my perspective, we do need a “Valley Region of the Mind”. Indeed, I would go further and suggest that there is a need for a 2017 version of Ernest Buckler’s The Mountain and the Valley. Buckler in 1952 described life in rural Annapolis County, mid-twentieth century. For him, the mountain was West Dalhousie (South Mountain) whereas Bridgetown was the Valley.

Fast forward to 2017, if we were to describe the Mountain and the Valley, what are the important features of the landscape? What has changed in terms of agricultural practice? New crops? What are some of the new features (e.g. Highway 101)? If we listened to the conversations of residents, what would be the topics of concern?

EKG_annapolisValleyIn my neighbourhood on Hwy 201, I see new craft beer company (Lunn’s Mill) and Beavercreek Winery. In Paradise, the Morse Estate (Buckler. The Cruelest Month 1963) has been transformed into Burnbrae Farm and Paradise Inn. The town of Bridgetown has merged with the Municipality of Annapolis County.

There  are new communication services extending along the Valley bottom. The Harvest Moon Trail has replaced the railway. It is open to hikers, cyclists and ATV users. The Annapolis River has been upgraded for kayakers and canoeists. The newest thread will be high speed Internet that should create opportunities for remote work sites in rural Nova Scotia.

The new book should address the geography of the Fundy Shore. It would offer more details of our cultural history, the Mi’kmaq and the Acadian.

Conversations with our neighbours would talk about the changing demographic, the role of educational institutions in preparing the next generation for an entrepreneurial, global economy. We would share stories about the remarkable community events throughout the region – access to theatre, music and film. The importance of networking opportunities, illustrated in the print media by The Reader and The GrapeVine.

On the environmental front we would voice concerns about the status of our forests, the soil condition of our agricultural land, as well as species loss in our oceans and rivers. We need, too, to monitor the rate of climate change and its impact on our natural resources.

A new book in 2017, by a next generation Ernest Buckler, would help us to more fully appreciate ‘the region of the mind‘ as well as define ‘the mind of the region’.


Ernest Buckler. 1952. The Mountain and the Valley.

Ernest Buckler. 1963. The Cruelest Month.

Donald Savoie. 2017. Looking for Bootstraps. Economic Development in the Maritimes. Nimbus Press.