poetry and prose about place

Posts Tagged ‘columnar basalt

Briar Island Rock #3

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In my garden there is a black pentagonal rock set into the ground.  The rock is black basalt, and future people may wonder how such a rock ended up in a setting of glacial moraines, far from other volcanic surface formations. 

The rock comes from the rocky shore of Briar Island in Nova Scotia.  On this shore, in July, 1817, my great-great grandfather came to Canada by way of the wreck of the ship Trafalgar.

In August 1993, my Dad led our family on a pilgrimage to Briar Island, to see Gull Rock where the ship went aground.  Our troupe included my Mom and Dad, my two brothers, my sister and me, with our respective families.  There we could see the rugged rocks where William first set foot in Canada.  Among those on the shore were four Williams of other generations, my Dad, my older brother, my younger brother (whose name, my Dad pointed out is the French version of William) and my nephew.

The pilgrimage had an amusing side.  We all gazed out to sea and retold the story of the shipwreck.  We all turned and had our photograph taken in the dazzling sun.  And when we later talked about our trip, no one could agree on what we had seen.  Some saw a black rock in the distance.  Some saw a small island.  Some saw a low rocky shoal of rocks extending into the sea.  In any case, I know we saw more than seven year old William did in 1817 as he stumbled onto the shore in thick fog and in the small hours of the morning.

The shore there is a pavement of columnar basaltic rock, emerging from the earth in slim five-sided columns.  This pattern develops when thick lava cools, resulting in a fracture network and the creation of perpendicular columns. 

example of columnar basalt (from Wikipedia)

One of those rocks I pried loose and it now sits, embedded in my garden, a memorial to young William.

My next post will be a poem and drawing about the shipwreck.

this rock has endured the decades since the shipwreck of the Trafalgar... it was there when the ship was stranded on the rocks...there when William and his brother came ashore... a witness to my family history

©  Jane Tims 2011


Written by jane tims

December 4, 2011 at 6:12 am

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