Thurston, H. 1989. The Devil’s Work is an Ark of Sand. Audubon, March 1989, pages 82-91. (Also published in “Atlantic Outposts”, pages 181-189. Pottersfield Press, Lawrencetown NS).
Note (ZL): Author Harry Thurston visited Sable Island as a guest of the Canadian Wildlife Service. Among his CWS hosts was Tony Lock, well-known for his complaints about the island’s horses (“Eating my grass. They cause all these blow-outs.”). Thurston stayed on Sable for more than a week—sometimes travelling with the biologists (who were studying terns, using a rocket net to catch immature Common and Arctic terns as they loafed on the beach), and sometimes exploring on his own. He shares observations on the landscape and the wildlife (the rancid air in the wake of seals fleeing the beach, the water’s shadows aqua and mauve, terns with silver sandlances in their bright coral beaks, green seas driven ashore by a southeast wind…). Thurston also shares some his conversation with several of the people working on the island, and suggests that “for each person the island also comes to have a different meaning… Sable enters each individual’s mythology in a highly personal way.” He notes that “the heart of the island’s practical purpose is the Atmospheric Environment Service Station”, and ends his piece with a quote, attributed to a young technician working at the AES Station — “When it starts to feel like home here, it is time to leave.” The article includes six colour illustrations: a map, an aerial photograph (showing the entire island, as well as its west and east bars) provided by the Council of Maritime Premiers/Land Registration and Information Service, and four expansive landscape photos by Thaddeus Holownia.
Harry Thurston is a poet, journalist, editor and naturalist, and has taught, mentored and/or served as writer-in-residence at the University of King’s College, Saint Mary’s University, Mount Allison University, and Acadia University.