Rino Ferruccio and I began our teaching careers together almost 30 years ago. I was always inspired by Rino’s love of geography and his desire to “know exactly where he was in the world”. For Rino, places located on the coast gave him the best sense of “place”.
I thought of Rino this week as a I climbed out onto the rocks outside one of the small villages just outside of Halifax. The sense of “edginess” was powerful, not only in terms of being able to place myself at a precise location on a regional map, but also because of the mild sense of fear that accompanied my climb to the rock shelf that would allow me to stand on the piece of land that could be truly considered “the edge”.
For me, it has never really been about being “on the edge” for its own sake. Instead, it has mostly been about perspective and courage.
Moving to the edge always provides a different vantage point. When I turned around to survey the landscape of this Nova Soctia harbour town, I saw things that I probably wouldn’t have seen had I remained closer to the shore. Making my way to the farthest point brought things into a different focus. I could see where the treeline emerged from the rock. I could see around the point, and I could see a navy frigate making its way across the horizon well before others who were waiting for me to return from my adventure.
Moving to the edge requires a little bit of courage. I’ve never been fond of heights, and I don’t have much experience walking on unlevel surfaces. Both of these came into play on my climb out to this coastal point. The final steps to my intended destination were a bit unnerving in that I had to navigate some distinct gaps while making my way out onto an open rock, unprotected and rather elevated.