This past summer, I learned just how genuinely accommodating my father can be. I tend to have many over-riding passions; reading, writing, history, art and family history. Once I connect with a story, some one else’s story, I tend to want to explore it for its details and for its nuances. This is what happened when I read Francis Itani’s Deafening. Because the book was so regional and because summer brought me smack dab in the middle of her setting, I had to explore that.
Similarly, after Dad and I attended the County Festival Player’s rendition of A Splinter in the Heart, an adapted screenplay based on Al Purdy’s novel…I just had to look deeper. The following summary, borrowed from and linked to Goodreads.
Al Purdy’s only novel, A Splinter in the Heart, is an unforgettable coming-of-age story that unfolds against the real-life tragedy of what came to be known as the Trenton Disaster. Set in 1918, it tells the story of sixteen-year-old Patrick Cameron and the events that will change him – and the Ontario town in which he lives – forever. Over the course of one summer and fall, Patrick finds love with a girl whose betrayal he cannot foresee, confronts the death of his beloved grandfather, and comes to terms with a neighbourhood rival. All the while, his hometown of Trenton lives precariously in the shadow of a dynamite factory, a sinister reminder of the Great War, which brought such prosperity to the town. Vivid with character and event, and evocative of time and place, A Splinter in the Heart is a moving portrait of a young man’s journey into adulthood in an era of change.
My father generously agreed to take me to see the location of the old munitions factory and also to visit Bleasdell Boulder in one of the region’s conservation areas. The erratic is mentioned as a place for romantic meetings between young people in the early 1900s and likely, even today. Well researched, Al Purdy’s writing, especially his poetry, is linked to specific places right across Canada. I had a very enjoyable time, visiting many of these places, structures and houses most times demolished or changed, but natural geography, remaining as he might have experienced in his own lifetime.
So, on a beautiful late summer day, Dad and I headed out for a short hike to the erratic, Bleasdell Boulder. I discovered that my Dad takes strides, much like my paternal grandfather…long and fast. I had quite a time staying up to him. Thanks, Dad, for going exploring with me!