My novella, The Weight of the Heart, is now at the printer. It’s available for pre-order here. On the one hand, publishing a book in the midst of a lockdown due to a global pandemic is perhaps unfortunate; on the other hand, people are reading and why not this book? It will take you deep into the interior of Canada’s western province as well as to Sombrio where you will roast potatoes in the coals of a cedar fire and collect salt from exposed rock for the potatoes, you’ll eat oysters fresh from their shells, you will be in good company (a thoughtful young narrator, Isabel, and her muses Ethel Wilson and Sheila Watson. The painter Margaret Peterson has a cameo), and you’ll hear coyotes, watch bighorn sheep mate, and you’ll stop for ice-cream at the old Pavilion store before it burned. There’s a newborn Appaloosa filly to stroke and rattlesnakes to avoid. Isabel finds an old pair of cowboy boots at a thrift store in Kamloops and if you’re lucky, you might find a pair too.
I thought, our maps are so cursory. We know that the big cities matter because they have stars to prove it. And the big rivers? Thick blue lines across the landscape. Mountain ranges, the borders between provinces delineated in a kind of cartographic Morse code: dash, dot, long dash for countries. Huge expanses of blue sea. Great lakes. The colours of empire. But what do they tell us about what happened, or happens, in grassy kettle depressions where the flakes of old tools litter the earth and salmon leap in the river against the current? Where on the map’s contours is the place where a woman paused to consider the beauty of the morning? Where a tree noted for its long cones was cherished by a family dependent on seeds? A map carries nothing of the smell of autumn, what it feels like now to walk over and into the remnants of pithouses, right into the body of the memory. Where on the map is the site where two boys found a body and might have been changed forever by it?
The river lay still in the sunlight, its thousand pools and eddies alive under its silver skin.