A Quarterly Journal of Contemporary English Language Haibun
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September 2006, vol 2 no 3

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Bruce Ross


Kouchibouguac, Miq’mac for “river of long tides,” is a prelude for one of the themes of this trip through Upper Quebec, Eastern New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and Isles de Madeleine, dunes. Back in New England year by year there has been less and less visible grasshoppers let alone their whirring sounds. On this trip grasshoppers have landed on me, their irresistible bright green bodies shining.

                                                     late August breeze . . .
                                                       the grasshoppers thrumming
                                                       in the dune grass

   The highlight of this theme is Greenwich National Park where a boardwalk trail leads you to gigantic living dunes—those that are covered by dune grass and migrate inland in response to the wind. From an overlook you see the retreating dunes and darkened low stands of dune grass left behind in the retreating. This is our second visit to Greenwich and I feel the same awe at seeing these mammoth forms which started as sand gathered around a dune grass blade and are built up to their present size to retreat in what used to be glacial slowness to provide a living Zen koan. We are the last visitors and simply are absorbed by the stillness.

                                                      remote park
                                                      quieter and quieter still
                                                    island sea dunes

   On Isles de Madeleine we take several hikes through dune fields with different kinds of flora covering the landscape.

                                                      bog dunes
                                                    on some of the ridge paths
                                                    sand-covered toadstools

One of the longest trails leads to the ocean where some piping plovers peck away not very far from a rotting seal. But we are tired and have to catch an early morning ferry. One last look at the ocean from the dunes behind our cottage. The beach has darkened and the clouds before us are transforming themselves and within their centers a glowing pink.

                                                    sunset . . .
                                                      a little bird’s footprints
                                                      around the dune grass