A Ship Sailing into Winter


November, 2008

I last wrote, I see with surprise, in June. The summer and fall have flown past, and now it’s grey, rainy November.


It was an exceptional gardening summer, with rainy days followed by heat and sunshine.

Nov 2008 hands and basket summer Mville-1

And, as always, we spent a few days on our beloved Grand Manan, where we perched on the cliffs of Hole-in-the-Wall campground, listening to the blowing of whales and watching the sky.

Nov 2008 grand manan-29 DSC_1631


By August, I had finished another draft of the new novel. I flew into the work of harvesting the garden, since we had a trip planned for mid-September.

Nov 2008 garlic-4 Nov 2008  cabbage Nov 2008 onions in basket 

Potatoes, beets, carrots, and cabbages went into the root cellar. The two chest freezers were stuffed with greens (like peas and chard), fruit (wild blackberries, strawberries, blueberries and raspberries), a year’s worth of local cider, and pesto. And in the pantry: baskets of onions, string bags of garlic.


On September 12, we flew to Resolute Bay, 6 ½ hours north of Ottawa, where we embarked on the Russian ship Lyobov Orlova. Our expedition was organized by Adventure Canada, in collaboration with Walrus Magazine.

Nov 2008 arctic plane Nov 2008Lancaster Sound-42

We sailed the black, silent waters of Lancaster Sound. The land was already shutting down for winter, with pack ice beginning to form. One stormy night, Peter and I went up to the bridge at 3 am. The bow plunged and rose in heavy seas, and the cones of light from the ship’s searchlight were filled with spinning snow.

Nov 2008Cambridge Fjord-14

We sailed slowly down Cambridge Fjord, which ended in a deep bay ringed by mountains. Many of us hiked far up into the hills, protected from polar bears by expedition members carrying rifles. We saw five families of snow geese, drifting downwards in slow circles; an arctic fox; and three arctic hares. We filled our canteens with pure, icy water running off the glaciers.

Nov 2008 Cambridge Fjord-27

We crossed Baffin Bay to Greenland. Our captain threaded Lyubov Orlova through a treacherous seascape of icebergs, and we visited the villages of Uummannaq, Aasiat and Illulisat.

Nov 2008 Uummannaq-70

Before this trip, I thought I lived in “the north.” Now I realize that I’m a southerner in relation to the Arctic, a wild, rugged land with a silence deeper than any I’ve ever heard, where polar bears pace rocky beaches, and village streets echo with the singing howls of sled dogs.
Nov 2008 laundry arctic Illulisat-67













This fall, I’ve been involved in some interesting events.

I spoke at a Fibre Arts Symposium in Amherst, Nova Scotia organized by Deanne Fitzpatrick, where I met many creative women and saw marvelous quilts and hooked rugs.

Nov 2008 quiltsfibre arts-25 Nov 2008 hooking fibre arts-7

I was delighted to give a reading at the New Brunswick Writer’s Federation Fall Fair.

I’m involved in a project sponsored by the N.B. Writer’s Federation and Laubach Literacy – 21 writers were paired with 21 adults who have only recently learned to read. We are writing their stories, to be collected in a book of non-fiction narratives, as a way of celebrating these new readers, breaking down the stigma associated with low literacy skills, and drawing the public’s attention to the serious literacy deficit in New Brunswick.

As well, I’m helping fundraise for the Tracey Fox-McQuade Memorial Scholarship. Tracey was the manager of a Coles bookstore who died tragically last year. The scholarship will go to a student at the Harbourview High School in West Saint John. Please email me if you’d to contribute to the fund.


Thank all of you who write to me, asking when you can read the new novel. It is so heartening to hear from readers. I keep you in my mind, like a circle of friends. As I write, I think – “What would the reader want?”

I am still in the editing process, but hope to be finally finished with all the edits (final draft, line edit, and copy edit) sometime this winter. My publishers and I are still not sure what the title will be. We keep waiting for that elusive perfect name! I’m getting closer to the final book as, under the keen eyes of a perceptive (and patient!) editor, the novel gets better and better.

Keep waiting, keep in touch! Your caring means so much to me.


Now that the sun is often hidden by clouds, the kitchen stove is fired up, heating our otherwise solar-heated water.

Nov 2008 stove-9

My ponies have thick, furry coats. The gardens are tilled and mulched. The Hallowe’en pumpkins have been frozen, and have sagging grins. The skis are waiting in the woodshed. Our house, filled with food and firewood, feels like a ship, sailing into winter.

October 2009 Newsletter

With warmest wishes to you all,