Morton Centre Memories



-An Album of Memories-

By Cate Trueman

Morton Centre Staff 2003 & 2004


Little miracles, growth spurts in garden surprise the eyes each day

On alert for dark shadows above, a sleeping porcupine is spotted in tree

A lone letter with my name on it sits at the bottom of our mailbox, bringing joy and surprise

No matter how often, the sight of deer, a fox, or any other wild creature catches my attention and is a moment of wonder

Numbers flicker on the screen as the GPS readings waver, with no sign of stabilizing

The sight of young cows playing innocently seems to be endless amusement

Can it be?! … a garden of food devoured in a single night plays tricks on my senses

Intense focusing is needed to read the numbers of the measuring stick during a beach transect

Squinting, or with a microscope, it’s still hard to tell…. is it a beetle or spruce needle?

Skills honed, eyes quickly determine whether a given tree is in or out of the plot

During an intense game of sardines, there is nothing like the relief felt when you spot the “it” person

The Grandma Tree, guardian of Monk Point, a wise woman with many a story to tell

A muddy car proudly mirrors our adventures

A deck crowded full of people, the Morton Centre welcomes the community to share in it

Baby oak trees, rare, hopeful signs that the forest is recovering from past logging destruction

A surprise and a marvel every time, a snake makes its presence known

Giants of this landscape, the magnificent trees of 40-Acre Island leave us standing in awe

Bright colours, people bustling, a feast for eyes and taste buds at the Lunenburg farmers’ market

Gotcha! Deer stand stunned in headlights, eyes glowing in the darkness, and then bound for the forest

After much practice, I look up and my eyes now know what species of tree it is

During a game of Hearts, I wonder if the fact that I am sitting with the Queen of spades is painted all over my face

Clear snapshots of the faces of my Morton Centre brothers and sisters, forever captured in my mind

Relief and accomplishment at the sight of the wharf in Lunenburg after paddling to town

Silently, together we witness the day’s finale- a spectacular sunset- from the cliff at the edge of the sea

Lack of human lights reveals countless celestial ones

Shooting stars- the magic of the night

Bright green wood sorrel, zingy like green apple, picked from the forest floor

A deep breath brings molecules of salty sea air to the tongue

Freshly-harvested, crisp, sweet garden veggies, planted by us and nourished by the Earth

Barbeque-smoked summer delights, potato and green salads

A bottomless pot of garlic-steamed mussels after a canoe across the straight to pick them ourselves

Experiments with new recipes, cooking for each other, risking new combinations

Refreshingly tangy margaritas complete special-occasion movie nights

Classic, Nova Scotian hodge podge, a celebration of summer colours and new veggie flavour

Raspberries, red, juicy and ripe, but only if you can beat the other wild creatures to them


Gentle, earthy air wafts up from the salt marsh

Sap from evergreens perfume our bodies as we work to widen the path

Herbs- spicy mint, savory chives, sweet basil, pungent dill- squeezed between fingers

Musty, stale air trapped in the nooks and crannies of the old farm house

A warm whiff of fresh cow patty crosses your path on the way through the pasture

The damp woods still smell of a crisp morning shower

A unique mammalian odor signals a nearby porcupine

Hints of noxious preserving fluids escape specimen jars

The smell of the dark, damp, stuffy Blair Witch Basement alone sends shivers up the spine

Resurfacing after each cleaning, the urine ghost haunts the Stinky Bathroom

Ron’s fresh grass clippings send up clouds of juicy, green, crisp air as they are fed to the cows

Thyme, forming a carpet around the cottage, permeates the air when crushed beneath feet

Newly-cut hay settles in the barn, a sweet, fresh aroma in a playground of haystacks


A bird calls, then another and another, a symphony of calls fills the air

Scratching on the countertop, tiny claws of the otherwise inconspicuous mouse give it away

“tok, tok, tok” goes the tree corer as it turns ‘round and ‘round

A young osprey gives a high-pitched cry for its parents

Cows keep us company with the odd, calm, low “moo”

Dusk brings the curious sharp strikes of seals breaking open shells on rocks

Interest is peaked when wheels rumble on the driveway- who could it be?!

The howl of the wind in the chimney when a good sou’wester blows off the water

Ron’s cheerful “Mornin’!”

Classical music animates our gardening, and the plants like it too

Darkness rouses crickets to perform an unending concerto


Rain, a deafening racket on the big window panes, or a gentle, soothing rhythm on the tent fly

And what would the shore be without a gull’s cry?


Rough and steadying, the bark of a tree trunk under hand

Bare feet toughen due to adventure after adventure over grass, garden stones, and earth

Living heat and piercing quills are sensed as a porcupine lies still beneath me

Shocking (but dry) coolness envelopes feet in valuable rubber boots when delving into the bog

Earth is crumbled and molded by hands in the garden

Humid July days produce beads of sweat that tickle on the way down the back

Hard, smooth keys give gentle resistance as fingers dance upon them

An almost daggerish, cold Atlantic refreshes bodies after a hot day of work

The heat of fire, though comforting, never seems like enough on wet, chilled-to-the-bone days

Tweezers in hands, fingers grasp oh so gently to keep sorted beetles intact

The body senses the sun’s heat before the eyes detect the sunrise

Smooth, cool mud squishes delightfully between toes

Warm, tired muscles tingle after a day of cycling around the island

Heavy body feels glued lying on the Earth, a safe and grounding feeling takes over

Hot, sudsy, cleansing water of the occasional, precious shower reveals soft, clean skin

Warm, heart-felt goodbye and welcome back hugs

Pain wells in the tummy during a good hard laugh with friends


Arrival, and I am filled with anticipation, apprehension, curiosity, and excitement that is hard to control

Early recognition that I will never be the same, that this will change my life

Transition to the lifestyle of the Morton Centre- community, discovery, freedom

Adjusting to “choose your own adventure” days- an education unlike any other

Waiting for a garden to sprout tests patience and instills curiosity

Excitement builds when first you see, and then capture a porcupine

Repeatedly defeated: frustration and disbelief upon the discovery of an escaped porcupine, again

Satisfaction after mega-cleaning the cottage

The fun of being with friends and playing outside all summer

Another summer day at the Morton Centre: all the incentive I need to get up in the morning

Playing pranks on each other sends thrills pumping though veins

The peacefulness of (nearly) media-free remoteness

Team work and camaraderie exists with every task or activity

A feeling of success swells after completing a chunk of research

The flexibility to choose to be in solitude or with companions

A fun, creative feeling bubbles as we dream of what the Morton Centre can become

We sincerely hope the Centre can continue to change the lives of students- students of and for life

We experience helplessness with respect to the Morton Centre’s financial barriers

I feel fortunate to be mentored by senior Morton Centre students

The second summer brings the re-experiencing of the Centre though new students

Outlining and trouble-shooting a research plan perplexes and exercises the brain

I sense a strong feeling of curiosity and support from the Heckman’s Island community

The accomplishment of living in close community- living, working, playing together- and making it work

Giving what you can and taking what you need- helping others and having others help you

Culture shock hits hard upon the return to school life after a Morton Centre summer

The knowing that your Morton Centre family includes brothers and sisters you will always have

Setting your own goals and achieving them instills a sense of responsibility and creativity

The more I learn about this place, this Earth, the more at home I feel and the larger my feeling of responsibility grows

Returning, and feeling like you’re coming home

After Thoughts

Realizing how much I’ve learned and appreciating that it may be impossible to identify all of the learnings I’ve had…

The realization that I am changed, that my experience has had an indelible impact on who I am…

Gratitude for all my brothers, sisters, mentors, supporters and friends who made this experience for me…

The warm feeling of remembering good times…

The sadness of the reality that those summers cannot be re-created…

The longing to return…

The wish that life-changing summers will continue to be created by those who open themselves to the Morton Centre experience…

May the adventures continue…