CM . . . . Volume XVIII Number 27 . . . . March 16, 2012
In a evocatively written text that closely resembles prose poetry, the principal author, Leon Pavlick, relates the story of a 300-year-old red pine that stands with some of its fellow, younger pines on a low moraine-formed ridge in south eastern Manitoba. Having grown up near this actual ridge, Pavlick, who was the Curator of Botany at the Royal British Columbia Museum for some two decades, speaks authoritatively and in the voice of the tree as this singular red pine shares both events in its long history as well as aspects of its annual cycle of life. Despite the book’s brevity, readers of Red Pines on the Ridge will come away with a surprising amount of information about the area’s flora and fauna, but information that has been related by Pavlick in a most engaging and non-didactic fashion. Because of the tree’s age, it has been a spectator as the land’s indigenous people were replaced by the arriving Europeans, and it has watched silently as the adjacent low lands were deforested and plowed up for the planting of crops. Despite its longevity, the red pine recognizes that, like all living things, it is not immortal:
A black and white drawing or full-colour painting by Victoria, BC, nature artist Lissa Calvert can be found on every page of Red Pines on the Ridge. Calvert’s attention to detail mirrors that found in Pavlick’s text.
Originally published in 1985, Red Pines on the Ridge reappearance almost three decades later is most welcome. As Canada’s population becomes increasingly located in urban, often almost treeless areas, books like Red Pines on the Ridge are essential in reminding us that most of Canada actually consists of large, open tracts of “nature” and that we urban dwellers are essentially ignorant about the plants and animals that live there.
Dave Jenkinson, CM’s editor, lives in Winnipeg, MB, and would very much like to visit the book’s ridge.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.