Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Pre' Rond: A Metaphor

Pre' Rond: A Metaphor


Charles Francis

From the best vantage points on Young's Mountain, Nova Scotia, Pre' Rond appears as part of an oxbow, a formation adding to the Annapolis River's meanders. Half of the oxbow is western bank, Belleisle Marsh. Pre' Rond is the other half, the river's southeastern bank.

We see Pre' Rond, the river and South Mountain from our living room window. Pre' Rond centres the view, the landscape. The same is true from any vantage point on the southern slope of Young's Mountain.

The Young's Mountain Road runs up the the slope of Young's Mountain from Old Highway 1 to the crest. From here it continues on to Young's Cove and the Shore Road. From the crest of Young's Mountain to the Shore Road the Young's Mountain Road is almost a straight descent. The western slope of Young's Mountain is gradual. The southern slope is not. It consists of steep grades, precipitous drop offs and switchbacks. Nevertheless, you can almost always see some portion of Pre' Rond from any point on the southern slope of Young's Mountain.

To walk down the Young's Mountain Road from the crest of an early morning is to view Pre' Rond as through a kaleidoscope. The image of Pre' Rond and the meander it in part forms is a factor of distance and light.

The first Young's Mountain Road drop off, the one at the crest of the mountain, traverses Stony Hill, the rockiest section of Young's Mountain Road. Here, especially when trees are at their fullest, what one experiences is a vision tempered by light and shadow splashing across the face, an image that changes with each step.

Stony Hill ends at a switchback, almost a perfect s-curve. The view of Pre' Rond and the Annapolis Valley from here is storybook quality. Houses and outbuildings are tiny. Smoke from chimneys dissipates long before reaching the heights. The occasional sailboat on the river seems a child's toy.

Clay Hill starts at the bottom of the s-curve. It is another drop-off, the only one running due east rather than downward. It terminates at the A-section of the Young's Mountain Road. From Clay Hill the view of the valley is again tempered by light and shadow.

The A-section is another steep drop, so steep that gravel makes walking an act of concentration with the possibility of slipping an ever possible hazard. Pre' Rond is almost perfectly centred as one looks down the length of the A-section through the trees bordering it to east and west.

The A-section ends with a jog to the west. From here the Young's Mountain Road is a straight line to Old Highway 1. This is Long Reach, one short, steep drop and then a gentle grade. The Long Reach kaleidoscope view of Pre' Rond is more a factor of distance than of light and shadow. As one progresses, the perspective diminishes until Pre' Rond vanishes from sight, hidden by trees on the far side of the highway.

The names of the four sections of the Young's Mountain Road are not literal assertions. They are metaphors, though not literary or poetic metaphors. Literary metaphors present incongruities, seeming impossibilities intended to make one think. “All the world's a stage” is such. Clearly the world is not a stage. What is intended in the statement? One must puzzle it out as Shakespeare intended.

The names of the Young's Mountain Road sections are everyday metaphors. Stony Hill and Clay Hill are are the more obvious, being the more concrete, physical. “A-section” and “Long Reach” are less so; they are abstract.

We do not think of words like “clay” and “stony” as metaphors but they are. Clay generally refers to earth or mud, which when wet assumes a plasticity. In Old English the word for clay, claeg, related to glue. Stony is from the Old English stanig which meant having the characteristic of stone. The Middle English and modern meaning, abounding in rocks or stones, describes Stony Hill.

Even little words like “A” can have meaning. “A” as in “A-section” references the first in a series. Reach as it is used in “Long Reach” identifies a path running or flowing, as with the straight portion of a river between two bends.

When we hear a name like Stony Hill, Clay Hill, A-section, Long Reach and Pre' Rond we need to be interested in the family of concepts the particular name belongs to in order to learn or understand the meaning. Names such as the above are conceptual metaphors; they are rooted in the real world.

The names for various sections of the road on the southern slope of Young's Mountain are evidence that metaphor is everywhere. This fact should not lead one to look at the experiential as the sole source of metaphor. Cause and change play a role in metaphor too, in the formation of conceptional metaphor. Pre' Rond was once known as La Rosette and today some call it Pea Round. Pea Round is most often viewed as an Anglophone adaptation or corruption of Pre' Rond.

Pre' Rond is located between parallel mountains running east and west. It is in the narrowest section of the Annapolis Valley. It is located where terrain- as opposed to the cardinal points of the compass- is the dominant referencing point. This seems the case even though the mountains go by the names North Mountain and South Mountain. One comes “off the mountain”or goes “up`` to a particular destination like the cottage or the lake.

When one speaks of going up the mountain or coming off the mountain the reference point is egocentric. One places himself or herself on an axes to define up or down relative to themselves. However, Pre' Rond and North and South mountains constitute a geocentric frame of reference, the converse of the egocentric frame of reference. The geocentric frame of reference stays in one place. Therefore Pre' Rond is a constant or unchanging conceptual metaphor.

Pre' is French for meadow, usually a small meadow. It has the same root as prairie, a tract of level or undulating grassland. It comes from the Latin, pratum, a meadow. Originally pratum meant a hollow.

Rond was roond in Old French. It comes from the Latin, rotundus. Rotund is round in shape.

Pre' Rond was first known as La Rosette. La Rosette was the nickname of a French marine drummer named Jacques Leger. Leger was stationed at Port Royal in the late 1600's. In historical records his name has dit Rosette or dit Rozette appended. Leger settled the general area of the point of land that would bear the name La Rosette around 1693. His holdings extended to the foot of a hill overlooking the river the French called Dauphin, the present day Annapolis River. The hill, which was round, would eventually give its name to the community of Round Hill.

A rosette is a rose-shaped ornament, usually a knot of ribbons. Its origin is Old French. Rosette is a diminutive of rose. Rosettes are round.

The name for the bulge in the eastern bank that is visible from our living room window was built from abstract concepts that captured similarities between a word or words and what those words symbolized. La Rosette, Pre' Rond and Pea Round are all names implying roundness, all are examples of conceptual semantics. The names all indicate the geocentric nature of the bulge. The vantage point from which one views the bulge does not matter, it is understood Pre' Rond is a concept. It is not up or down, east or west. It is identifiable by its shape its roundness, the quality of being round.


Mary Freeman said...

How well you write, and how beautifully connect geography, space, surroundings and ideas, all tied together with terms you explore as well! I can just imagine it all, and hear the praise of is in your tone.

Mary Freeman said...

I definitely have to read your entire blog now!