Wednesday, July 9, 2008

What if we all could see beyond the horizon?

A friend took me for a coast crawl in his ultra-light on Saturday. We departed a small, grassy private airfield outside of Hillsborough and flew down the Bay of Fundy coast as far as his gas tank would allow. A hot, motionless morning, three days past the new moon, meant the tide was unusually low and we didn’t have to deal with wind. Perfect for a low altitude flight.

Floating along several hundred feet above the coast, the beauty of this landscape and all its elements left me breathless: the sleepy lull of a bay at rest, mounds of ancient mountain ranges, hidden finger lakes, extraordinary mudflats wrinkled by a myriad of rivulets, and the deep emerald patterns of the Hillsborough and Shepody marshes. My horizons spread out and flew.

Cape Enrage
We paralleled the cliffs at the Hopewell Rocks, taking photos of tourists taking photos of us. Further up the coast, others waved from the Cape Enrage Lighthouse. As we passed Waterside Beach, long and lean as a yardstick, we skimmed barely above the sand. We sailed high over the great rubbled cascading cliffs of Alma and Fundy National Park, the coves and wilderness campsites along the Fundy Footpath, circled Martin Head with its swirls of sand and water the colour of abalone shell, then turned for home.

Martin Head
As we floated over the great river valleys slicing the coast, the Two Rivers estuary and the Mary’s Point mudflats, stretched out like buffed leather, I found myself struck by a deep, profound passion for this place…

...it has always been here, this passion for place, long before I knew it had a name...long before I learned the stories of our magnificent tides, our vibrant salt marshes and mesmerizing shorebirds. The passion was born in the days when my parents began bringing me on Sundays to visit my Albert County cousins, but it has been a quiet, comfortable resident in my soul, growing slowly, building layer upon layer through a wealth of experiences and explorations.

Through the years, this place has entered me...I've carried its soil under my nails, its mud in my pores, its gifts in my belly. Its sea has cooled my body, its salt crusted my skin, its scent filled my lungs.
I've gathered it into me, in bits and pieces, filling my life with its sights and stories; but, this wondrous day - seeing how all the hills and valleys, coves and rivers that I cherish fit together into a whole -it suddenly overwhelmed me.

I wanted to grab our leaders by the shoulders - those who cannot see beyond today or their own glory or achievement - and plead with them to join me in protecting this wild space. This is my land. My ancestors bowed to it and claimed it to make me Canadian, to make me a New Brunswicker. My heart tells me we need our wild places, we need to stand firm and not crumble to the lure of the dollar or unnecessary development.

It raised a she-bear in me…this God’s-eye view.

2 comments:

Person Place or Thing said...

I just hiked a portion of the Fundy Footpath. The view from above is neat perspective of the same landscape.

Deborah Carr said...

Whether hiking the trail or flying over it, the Fundy coast never fails to stop my breath in my chest.