If our province could be captured between covers, Sara Jewell’s Field Notes: A City Girl’s Search for Heart and Home in Rural Nova Scotia would be it. Personal essays collected to prove that yes, it is all about the people in this province and while some essays talked primarily animals or foods they continued to embody the wonderfulness of neighbours.
A self-proclaimed “come from away” girl, Jewell lived primarily in cities and outside of Nova Scotia but circumstances made our province her home. As a child exploring Pugwash, by the good fortune of being friends with her minister in Ontario, she had no idea this would be the province and community which held her roots. Returning each summer to swim with the jelly fish, unaware of rising tides, Jewell experienced a different kind of ebb and flow in her life when her first husband declared he wanted a divorce.
Once that was declared Jewell knew exactly what to do and her life turned more beautiful for the experience. In her thirties, starting her life over completely, she knew she wanted to live her own life in rural Nova Scotia and had no idea her blind luck would bring her love in so many new ways. A journalist and writer by trade, her adventures could have brought her anywhere but they brought her home to grow.
This collection of essays describing her quest for knowledge including everything from how to speak to a congregation of churches being threatened to close, how to approach grade five students as they witness that cow putting his thing in another cow and how to harvest potatoes. With humour, grace and an eagerness for truth, Jewell also touches upon the importance of our forests and enjoying all aspects of nature this province needs to cherish.
Finishing the book I found it fitting to see that the bookmark I absently grabbed from my collection was that of a solar energy company as this book teaches us how brightly the sun shines in our province, so strongly that people mentioned in this book are living from it.
My recommendation: pick up Field Notes, get yourself and your book club outside, take a deep breath and, no matter where you’re sitting, breathe in the magic of what is Canada’s East. And if you are not able to visit her in Pugwash, please be sure to connect with her online by visiting sarajewell.ca.