Dibidalen
Thistledown Press / 6 February 2013

Dibidalen by Seán Virgo Published by Thistledown Press Review by Hannah Muhajarine $18.95 ISBN 978-1-927068-06-9 The stories found in this enchanting collection by Seán Virgo are almost fairytales, familiar and fascinatingly fresh at the same time. The collection starts simply, with “Before Ago”, a story that sounds like a poem or a song. Its rhythmic and repetitive phrases gave me the feeling I was listening to the story being told rather than reading it from a page. These opening tales are short and cryptic, full of symbolism and meaning. The characters are unnamed-‘a man’, ‘a stranger’ or ‘a priest’-and contain elements of folktales-three eggs found in a field, talking animals, dreams and transformations. As the stories progress, however, new ideas are introduced. A priest struggles to find the best way to live his faith, a soldier finds it difficult to return to his old life after the war. All the stories are neatly linked, some seeming to pick up where the last one left off. They build on each other, gradually gaining length and complexity, moving forward in time to a world more like our own. The last three stories-“Gramarye,” “The Likeness,” and “Dibidalen”-are the longest, making up most of…

Wagons East
Your Nickel's Worth Publishing / 6 February 2013

Wagons East by Victoria Taylor Published by Your Nickel’s Worth Publishing Review by Keith Foster $14.95 ISBN 978-1-894431-88-0 Have you ever felt like taking off – to nowhere in particular? That’s what Victoria Taylor and her partner Carl did, virtually on the spur of the moment. It was this spontaneity that led to the great adventure she relates in Wagons East. Following their dream, the couple set out from British Columbia on a cross-country tour, roughing it as they made their way east. They only got as far as Saskatchewan, but they took the scenic route. They travelled by covered wagon, accompanied by their team of horses, Hoss and Tracker, whom Victoria refers to as “the boys.” Plodding along on a wagon seat at three-and-a-half miles an hour provided a different sensation than driving in a car. Victoria uses a chatty, conversational writing style with a wry sense of humour, saying that indoor plumbing consisted of a cold water tank with a tap. She describes crossing a logging bridge with “no side rails and a million miles to the river bottom.” Despite this and other harrowing experiences, she displays an optimistic buoyancy throughout. The couple stopped at farms and ranches…

Sedges (Carex) of Saskatchewan
Nature Saskatchewan / 6 February 2013

Sedges (Carex) of Saskatchewan by Anna L. Leighton Published by Nature Saskatchewan Review by Sandy Bonny $19.95 ISBN 978-0-921104-29-2 Saskatchewan’s uncultivated prairie, the archetypical provincial geography, is grassland — yet many of those thin-leaves are not grasses. The sedges, or Carex, which have three sided blades as opposed to the round stems of grasses, have ‘edges’. And they increase in abundance at edges. If you have canoed through a waterside fen, recall the rough whisper of sedge blades against your hull and paddle. Hiking or hunting in the boreal forests, sedge skirt open spaces, forming thick carpets between forest stands and providing a valuable source of forage and seed to wildlife, as well as a protected habitat for flowering and medicinal plants. With over 103 native species the sedges are the largest genus of vascular plants in Saskatchewan, yet one of the least known and most difficult to identify. Sedges (Carex) of Saskatchewan, Fascicle 3 of the Flora of Saskatchewan’s compendium of provincial botany, reveals the importance of the genus and its role in each of the provincial ecozones. The volume is dedicated to John Howard Hudson (1923-2010), a botanist and educator whose detailed notes and archival specimen collection remain…