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Sunday, January 13, 2013

Tarnation Big Rock

In my home county of Prince Edward and the areas nearby, an Al Purdy literary pilgrimage is the stuff of everyday comings and goings.

On a particularly lovely day last week, I hiked a local conservation area to visit the province's largest glacial erratic. This one million kilo rock measuring 6 metres in height really defies description. It is some sort of elemental being, with its own ecosystem of ferns and even tiny trees surviving on its elephant-hide back.

It's interesting to have the words of one Alexander Wellington Purdy to describe our Bleasdale Boulder.

In the novel A Splinter in the Heart ('loosely based' on Al's own life), the adolescent hero Patrick, on one of his long-distance runs, visits with his Uncle Wilfred.

"You hearda the Glen Miller Rock, boy?
folks still come to look at it...and marvel
Patrick shook his head.
"Tarnation big rock. Folks come down from Toronto to look at it. I hear tell they measured it, chipped at it with hammers, took pieces away with 'em. They made a great fuss about it."
"Why did they do that, Uncle Wilfred?"
"Seems like that rock's been there near as long as God made the earth. Old Rentee Burling told me what they said about it. It was glaciers did it!"

(page 61, A Splinter in the Heart, paperback edition)

And there's a poem too
but for now it's escaped me.

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