Friday, April 19, 2013


I savored the book I just finished by Deborah Carr entitled, Sanctuary. I discovered Deborah's writing by hitting the "next blog" button on the top of my blog one night. She, like me, hikes in the forest by her home and records her journeys. Her book is stirring, it is the story of Mary Majka, a Polish woman who emigrated to Canada after World War II. At points in her young life Mary was separated from all that she loved: her family, her home, her land. She was even a prisoner at one point, captured on the way to reunite with her mother upon leaving boarding school. Yet, through it all Mary found solace in nature.

Caledonia Mountain {via}

As a young woman she relocated to North America, married, and after some searching found  Caledonia Mountain to call home. Once settled in, she became the founding member of the Moncton Naturalists' Club in her new town of New Brunswick, Canada. She went on to be a well-respected naturalist, a national activist, and a historical  preservationist. Mary has spearheaded many, many projects, with many groups, to help preserve countless wildlife habitats, as well as the beauty of the land, in New Brunswick. Her mission has been to share what she has learned, particularly with children, to get them interested in nature and preservation; she has always been a teacher throughout all of her work with the land. As well, leads restoration projects for many historical sites in and around New Brunswick.

Mary's home for years was in the mountains, surrounded by acres of land she became intimately acquainted with over time. The land and its wildlife became her teachers. She and her husband named their mountain home Aquila meaning eagle, Poland's national emblem. Mary also has the good fortune of having a cottage at a point along the Bay of Fundy, "Mary's Point," named for Marie Bidoque, part Mi'kmag and Acadian, she inhabited the land in the mid 1700's and was buried there. Later, Mary Majka restored a larger home on the point, and moved there along with her husband. All of Mary's homes have served as meeting places for all types of naturalist groups, historical groups, and many friends who all became family.

Mary retreats to her cottage, Calidris, for respite. It is named for the sand plovers that flock there in the thousands on their migration journey from the artic to the muddy, nutrient-rich marshes of the bay. Mary has spent many years of her life protecting these birds, and even got Canada to turn the area into a protected reserve. Deborah depicts special moments in Mary's experience on Mary's Point:
The beauty of the landscape and her intimate interactions with the birds invoked profoundly altered states of being. She felt as if, for a heart beat, the lines of separation between her and her surroundings vanished and she was granted a glimpse into another realm of experience.

I know how Mary feels. I too, feel like I enter other realms when I hike the forests near my home. Just last night, I took my last walk in the woods until fall (deer tick season is upon me.) On this walk, I felt I accessed another world. The light was falling on and between the twisted brambles along the beginning of the path and I felt captivated by these magical places. I entered into bramble houses, walking along Kelly green moss stones, feeling renewed. By the end of the walk, I felt certain I had been in another world.


(n.) A place of refuge or safety.