Friday, June 01, 2012

The Road Less Traveled

Many (sometimes I think a few too many) years ago, my high school English teacher, Mary Wille, assigned a Robert Frost poem as a memorization exercise for our modern poetry class:

The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I marked the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Robert Frost

At the time I didn't have any idea how deeply I would take those words to heart. After nearly thirty years exploring the winding byways of Atlantic Canada, though, it's become clear that roads less
travelled by have become my first choice. It's these roads that allow for breathing space; for stopping and smelling the wild roses or walking a woodland trail beside a crystal waterfall or watching an osprey hover and plummet in pursuit of a fat mackerel. These roads lead to small communities or to broad expanses of unsettled country, to forests and barrens and bogs and meadows where moose or deer graze, and to lakes or coves where eagles soar high above -- where bears sometimes amble out of the shadows in search of a mouthful of tender dandelions and
where wildflowers bloom in profusion, painting the landscape in purple and gold. They lead to places like Elliston, where abandoned root cellars, storage sites for houses that long ago have fallen into dust, create the look of a hobbit village and where a short walk leads to an Atlantic puffin colony that's ideally situated for viewing from land. They lead across eastern hyper-oceanic barrens where hundred-year-old trees rise a few inches in height, and where the only traffic doesn't pay much attention to roadsigns; the right-of-way belongs to the one with the antlers. These are the roads that reveal the
true character of this region; there's no pretense or putting on airs out here. I love exploring these out-of-the-way spots and visiting much-loved places that keep calling me back, and I love sharing those sights and sounds and experiences with others who have the same capacity for delight and discovery. As the summer touring season begins in earnest and the summer's travellers begin their journeys, I'm looking forward to every adventure-filled mile of it!


  1. Mary Wille prepared her students for Life with a capital L. I've always loved this poem as well. I'm thinking the fishing stage and walkway are Change Islands.

    1. Good eye, Sally. That's definitely Change Islands.