His livelihood evaporated with the moisture of the soil…

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I like to share interesting pieces of figurative language I encounter in my reading. I write today about a metaphor by B.C. writer Tom Hawthorne.

I used to work with Tom Hawthorne, an award-winning freelance journalist who was recently named Harvey Southam guest lecturer at the University of Victoria. (Congrats, Tom!) I haven’t seen him or spoken with him in years — apart from a very brief hello in a coffee shop about six months ago– but I recently decided to see if he had a blog.

He does! He contributes irregularly but you can have a look at it here. The post I want to mention today, however, ran June 19/13 and was headlined Bloody Sunday, 75 years later.  It focuses on Steve Brodie, a Scottish labourer and organizer. Here is the image I particularly liked:

In the early 1930s, his [Steve Brodie’s] livelihood evaporated with the moisture of the Prairie soil.

That terse, 14-word sentence sums up the heartache of the Great Depression. The metaphor — of livelihood evaporating along with the rain — captures the dirty ’30s with gratifying precision and accuracy.

Although I was born and raised in Vancouver, I’d never before heard of Bloody Sunday (you could perhaps blame this on my right-wing father who would have had no truck with such events), which occurred in 1938. The idea of police getting out of control still resonates today, however. Think of the Robert Dziekanski taser incident or the transit police assault of Robert Keith Booker, 77.