Tuesday, May 15, 2012

GCN's 'Back Story' : growing up a "LITTORAL" commensalist, becoming a global commensalist ...

  My own personal 'back story' actually.
  I was three and a half in 1955 when I first saw Chezzetcook Inlet - we were moving into our new home in Seaforth, Nova Scotia, along that half drowned river valley cum estuary.
   But it wasn't my first experience of living along a water's edge: far from it.

   My parents grew up along the edge of St Clair River, part of the Great Lakes system, in Windsor Ontario - a few minutes walk to the river's edge. It seemed an hourly occurrence to see large steamships sail past the end of their street.
  I was conceived there but was actually born born in Victoria, BC. Lived there twice, actually - both times close to the water's edge.
   I later lived in Milton and Southsea, water's edge sections of Portsmouth - itself basically an island of the ocean, so very very close indeed to the mainland of Britain that most aren't aware of it's island status.
   I lived for a time in Vancouver, but in the UBC Endowment grounds - at the very tip of Vancouver - the ocean minutes walking away, even for a small kid.
  I later lived for a time in Putney and Ealing - river's edge suburbs of London England.
   I live twice in Dartmouth Nova Scotia, the last time for 20 years  and now for 30 years in Halifax --- very close to the water's edge.
   However, like all my other homes bar one, still one not quite within sight of it.
 You see, despite all those years living near the water's edge, I never actually lived within direct sight and smell and feel of it - except in Seaforth.
   That it is why Seaforth was so important to my mental formation - that and the age I was when I lived there.
   I lived there full time for only brief periods - in 1955-1956 and between 1961 and1965.
   But both periods were critical. In the first I was just old enough to retain those all important firm first memories.
  In the second period, I was in my critical 10-14 period of maturation.
  In addition, I should say I was in Seaforth all summer between the ages of 14 and 18 and for much of the summer (and bouts of winter,fall and spring) ever since.
   Our family still owns land there - my parents moved back gradually to full time residency, after moving to Dartmouth full time for just 5 years.
   The next land fall our Seaforth house looks out seaward to, is I believe, Bordeaux in southern France. The open ocean is but 200 metres away---- and incidentally it is relatively rare in Nova Scotia to see the open ocean from a house- our province is a coast of deep bays.
   Ocean wind and rain storms lash our 150 year old house, built literally like a sailing ship, until it creaks alarmingly like an old sailing ship 'working' in high seas.
  But our part of Seaforth is only a tiny part of a much larger system : starting in the interior watershed for Chezzetcook River and Lake, it becomes a tidal flats cum narrow drowned river valley estuary, before emptying into the ocean between two guard barriers of resistance rock.
   The original soil is terrible, but Chezzetcook is blessed by being the centre of a vast field of red clay drumlins that form its arable hills, its capes and its inlet islands.
  Between drumlins and the rich marine life produced in such a littoral zone, the earliest settlers - first Micmac aboriginals and then their relatives among the earliest Acadians, eked out an adequate life here.
   In 1962, aged ten, I heard and read the uproar about Rachel Carson's article and then book "SILENT SPRING". It impressed my young mind muchly. ( I had just started reading adult books and magazines and listening to adult radio.)
  But may I confess ? I never could get far in her book - then and now - past the first chapter or two.
   No mind - our family, like millions of others, was pre-sold to believe her based on our enjoyment of her earlier- better - book : "THE SEA AROUND US".
   Our bible, every time we went to a beach or a rock pool.
   Soooooooooo - given my 'back story' ---- how could I not help but to grow up a littoral commensalist .
  And it was that  plus the fact I knew as a young kid that my morning glass of milk was likely laced with Strontium 90 fallout from an nuclear explosion half a world away ,made me a confirmed global commensalist from an early age....

 --- Michael Marshall

No comments:

Post a Comment