Archive for March 2nd, 2009

Bur Oak (Quercus macrocarpa), March 1, 2009

Bur Oak (Quercus macrocarpa), March 1, 2009

…to drop over to the Festival of the Trees 33. If you are a tree lover, tree hugger, or would just like to add a bit of green to your day, you’ll enjoy the festival. All kinds of trees, all kinds of places. Look for M.A. Sheehan’s sad story of the rise and fall of his urban forest, “What will the Neighbours Think?

If you’re in the market for a good book to read, you’ll find lots of suggestions at the March update of The 2nd Canadian Book Challenge. See what others are reading and check out reviews of the books that interest you. As they say at Chapters, the world needs more Canada!

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A Fool and Forty Acres: Conjuring a Vineyard Three Thousand Miles from Burgandy by Geoff Heinricks. McClelland & Stewart, 2004.

Rooms for Rent in the Outer Planets: Selected Poems 1962-1996 by Al Purdy. Harbour Publishing, 1996.

In August of 1994, Geoff Heinricks and his wife Lauren bought forty acres of farmland in Prince Edward County, Ontario. As the property lacked a house, they moved with their two young daughters to a rented house in tiny Consecon. Forty Acres is the story of their new lives, far from the High Park area of Toronto, as their family grows and Geoff begins work on his dreamed-of vineyard. Heinricks artfully weaves the strands of their personal lives together with the story of the vineyard, complete with talk of rootstock and grafting, phylloxera and terroir, to introduce the reader to the basics of viticulture. The history of The County is also featured in the tale. Each chapter is headed by a passage from a work by Al Purdy, who lived, and at one time produced wine, in a modest house on Roblin’s Lake, Ameliasburgh, a dozen miles away from Heinricks’ farm. After contacting Purdy in an effort to acquire a copy of one of his books, Heinricks had the opportunity to meet the poet when Purdy returned from his B.C. residence to Ameliasburgh.

The poems in Rooms for Rent were selected by Purdy and offer a good introduction to his work. They cover a broad range of topics, from birdwatching to hockey players to beer making. The settings are also diverse, with regions as different as Cuba and Prince Edward County represented. This book was a selection for Canada Reads 2006, when it was defended by Susan Musgrave. Purdy died in 2000. He is buried in a small graveyard at the foot of Purdy Lane, Ameliasburg. Efforts have been made to preserve his house and the League of Canadian Poets has named April 21, 2009 as National Al Purdy Day.

Rating: If you have an interest in winemaking and/ or Prince Edward County, Forty Acres is a good introduction to both, so 4 stars out of 5. Rooms for Rent is a classic.

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