Stunt driving on the way to paradise

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The popularity of the Bruce Peninsula National Park has taken off in recent years, as this Parks Canada photo taken at one location shows

It was another busy day at Grey County Provincial Offences Court, which also acts as the court for such offences for Bruce County. Most of the dozens of people waiting for their turn in court that day in early December were charged with Highway Traffic Act offenses and had decided to plead “not guilty.” A brief consultation with the Prosecutor before court might lead to a resolution; otherwise they were heading for a trial, time permitting, or adjournment to a later date if not.

Several people in the crowded waiting area were charged with excessive speeding, also referred to as “stunt driving,” on Provincial Highway 6. Those charges involved a long stretch of that highway on the Bruce Peninsula leading to Tobermory that has suddenly become especially infamous after five people died in collisions last year.

Only in recent years has traffic on that section of highway become such an urgent problem. It coincides with a tremendous increase in tourist traffic heading to the two national parks in the Tobermory area. Continue reading

You winsome and you lose some

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“Lake effect snow squalls will affect the Bruce Peninsula today. Local accumulations of 15 centimetres are possible before the snow squalls weaken this evening.”

So said the Canadian Weather – Environment Canada alert on the Google search page Wednesday morning on the way to the actual website where the red-bannered “SNOW SQUALL WARNING IN EFFECT” appeared over the six-day forecast.

There was also an EXTREME COLD warning.

One look out the kitchen window was enough to tell the likely story of the day: The prospect of needing to spend several hours blowing the long driveway twice. Best to keep on top of it. Continue reading

Looking for the bright side in 2018

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Let’s try to look on the bright side for 2018.

That’s easier said than done though, isn’t it?

Like, for example, I just looked at the weather forecast for our area here in greater Hope Ness, and there’s no relief in sight for an end to the current deep freeze, and a lot more lake-effect snow. I ventured out onto the wind-swept Eastnor Flats to get some diesel fuel for the tractor, and I might as well have been at the North Pole. I understand it was almost as cold there.

(Note to Donald Trump who just tweeted sarcastically about the need for a little of that good, ol’ global warming: It IS about global warming, and climate change, throwing the longstanding stability of the jet stream out of wack. This is why parts of Alaska are warmer than Hope Ness, and maybe even Washington, D.C. for that matter. The science-based facts about it are just a few keys over from twitter, Dear Donald. Give it a read some time before tweeting the first ill-informed thing that comes to mind – and that’s putting it nicely.)

But getting back to why it’s no so easy to look on the bright side about the New Year: Continue reading

Let your light shine, you are the hope of the world

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I subscribe to the theory that we nine billion-plus human beings are all descended from a small group of ancestors who, millions of years ago, faced with an environmental crisis of world-changing proportions, learned fast the value of cooperation and making the best use of everyone’s particular skills.

Some were creative and innovative, some had a gift for organization, others had extraordinary intuitive powers, still others knew how to raise spirits when things looked dark, and finally there were those who were especially fleet of foot and physically strong. Everyone’s effort was valued and appreciated as they desperately searched for a place that offered the hope of life. They found it: at the shore of a life-giving, great river, or of a sea, or of an ocean teeming with food. There’s a reason, after all, why we humans are so drawn to waterfront homes. It’s in our formative genes.

But more to the point, I also believe there’s an essential goodness in what we are as human beings. Otherwise, we wouldn’t be here now; we wouldn’t have survived that critical moment millions of years ago. But we did, because we learned the value of working together, of a diverse and broad collection of skills, and of intelligence. Continue reading

Once I had a compass

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Once I had a compass, in a manner of speaking: it was a figurative one, with a needle that mostly pointed to hope. Not all the time, mind you. Occasionally it pointed in the wrong direction, when I lost my way and ended up trapped in the negative continuum that happens when you make the wrong choice, or otherwise make a life-changing mistake. Takes a long time more often than not to break free and find your way back to a place where you can make a fresh start. Continue reading

Avoid the Trump factor in the fight against climate change

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Winter came a little late this year. Less than two weeks ago there was no snow on the ground here in Hope Ness. But it has arrived, as you can see. This is not at all unusual for mid-December: daily, “lake-effect” snow squalls coming off Lake Huron, the nearest of the Great Lakes. They will continue until the lake water cools down and starts to freeze over. So, it’s daily snow-blowing with my trusty tractor and attached snow-blower to keep the driveway clear. There’s no if, ands, or buts about it. It’s get up in the morning and go to work, stay on top of it, morning after morning, or risk getting snowed-in. Nothing like necessity for motivation in defiance of SADs and the aging process. Continue reading

When in doubt make pizza

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Dark-rye pizza with multinational topping

When in doubt, make pizza. And make it from scratch, otherwise it doesn’t count in the greater scheme of things. I mean, anybody can squeeze pizza sauce out of a plastic bottle, or chop onions, red pepper, mushrooms, green and black olives, and even spinach. There is to be sure a certain, patient skill to grating pizza mozzarella and even crumbling feta cheese on top. Oh, and yes, a sprinkling of Oregano. Continue reading

Ignorance and want: the prophecy of Charles Dickens

I was talking a few evenings ago to my young friends, a well-read, pleasant couple with hope in their hearts, about the state of the world. We settled for a while into a discussion about the troubling, political situation in the U.S. where exploitation of a significant portion of the population by a populist demagogue with dangerous dictatorial tendencies is leading that great country, and the world, down a dangerous path.

Suddenly, as often happens, a recollection of a memory that seemed relevant to the discussion came to my mind. In this case, it was a scene from the 1951, British-made movie A Christmas Carol, based on the short story of that title by the great 19th Century English writer, Charles Dickens. Continue reading

The Jane Miller is found, may she rest in peace

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The Great Lakes are North America’s inland sea. They’re actually five seas of varying sizes. The largest and most northerly is Lake Superior. Then there’s Lakes Michigan, Huron, Erie and Ontario. Georgian Bay, though strictly speaking, part of Lake Huron, could also be included as one of the Great Lakes, or sea in its own right.

Its cliff-lined deep, blue waters on the western, Bruce Peninsula side have as stormy a reputation and as long and rich a marine heritage as any of the Great Lakes. Continue reading