Wednesday, January 10, 2007

The Twilight Zone

We wound up in Fredericton because of a romantic daydream my husband had had from his childhood. He is from Maine, and he was mightily intrigued by the space in the north called New Brunswick. He and his family had taken a short trip to Quebec but had never been to this province. I am from Massachusetts and had never heard of it although I knew of Quebec, one of my uncles having come from there. A family in our village had come from Nova Scotia, so I had heard of that too but had no idea where it was. Even after I had graduated from college, I knew very little about Canada. We had planned to go to NB on our honeymoon, but Uncle Sam prevented that and called Bill into the air force.

When we were trying to figure out where to apply after the PhD, Bill suggested NB. The back of our dictionary had a list of North American universities. Sure enough, there was a university in New Brunswick. He applied and was enthusiastically offered a job.

When we decided to come here, my Quebec uncle told us a family story about “a big fire and a treasure" someone in his family had buried in NB. We later learned that indeed there had been a big fire in 1825 on the Miramichi River.

We were coming here, “on a lark, just for a year or two.” I went to the UNC library to get books about NB, but could find only one, The Watch that Ends the Night, by Hugh McLennan. It has a section about the grim childhood of the hero in a NB lumber camp, the murder of his mother and his subsequent flight down the Miramichi River to escape from the murderer. It was a very dark introduction.

Recently doing genealogy, Bill discovered that one of his ancestral grandmothers was a 13 year old girl from a NB Indian reserve.

Many writers write about their childhood locale; that is what lights up their imagination. Part of one of my novels is set in my Massachusetts village, but all the rest are set in New Brunswick. New Brunswick is what fires my imagination. I have, however, the disadvantage that it is not my native land, that I don’t know it as I would if I had been raised here; I don’t know it from the inside of me. Mine is an outsider’s vision even though I have lived here 41 years.

New Brunswick is in the Atlantic Time Zone. Bill calls it the Twilight Zone.

1 comment:

zhoen said...

The world ends at midnight, twelve thirty Newfoundland.

Gorgeous country, cold.