We’ve waited long enough to find out what caused the “blast” that shook our homes

brucemapAt 5:20 pm on December 13, 2019 a large area on the Bruce Peninsula was shaken by what was initially reported as a small earthquake by Natural Resources Canada, which monitors seismic activity coast to coast in Canada. It registered 2.1 on the Richter scale. Seismic events at that level are not usually felt, not until they reach 3.5 on the scale. But that one was felt, and heard, for several seconds from Cape Croker north-east of Wiarton, to Lion’s Head, about halfway up the peninsula.

As I’ve said before in several previous posts, I thought at first part of my house in Hope Ness, north of Hope Bay, had collapsed, and perhaps the nearby barn, or a large tree had fallen on or near the house. By that time night had fallen. I went outside with a flashlight but saw nothing amiss. Back in the house I turned on a kitchen tap and was relieved to find the water was still running. So, apparently the deep drilled well had not been damaged. Continue reading

“Blast” investigation narrows down

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At the end of Cathedral Drive about the same time the Earth moved

The “blast’ that took place in the Hope Bay area north of Wiarton on Friday, December 13 is now solely in the hands of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry because that is the ministry responsible for quarry regulations, says a spokesperson for the other ministry initially involved in a joint investigation. Continue reading

Quarry “blast” investigation underway

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The tremor from a blast north of Wiarton was felt as far as Lion’s Head

Officials of two Ontario ministries that oversee operations of pits and quarries in Ontario are investigating an apparent explosion in a quarry north of Wiarton on the Bruce Peninsula late last Friday evening.

The incident was initially described as a “small” earthquake by Natural Resources Canada which monitors seismic activity. The tremor lasting several seconds was reported by the federal department as registering 2.1 on the Richter scale normally used to describe the magnitude of earthquakes. It was described by the federal agency as being about 14 kilometres north of Wiarton in the Hope Bay area. It was felt by numerous people from Cape Croker, northeast of Wiarton, to the village of Lion’s Head about halfway up the peninsula. Continue reading

The earth quakes in Hope Ness

In the 40 years since I first came to live in Hope Ness I’ve seen, heard, and felt a lot of memorable natural occurrences: a few specially intense, zero-visibility blizzards; the sky turning green over nearby Hope Bay as a tornado approached; a ball of lightning rolling across the kitchen floor after the house was struck; the explosive crack of a thick, old hardwood beam as the old drive shed collapsed under the weight of snow; half a dozen deer caught nibbling on my rows of beans in the glow of my flashlight. They ran off, and we continue to co-exist peacefully.

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But I never heard and felt the earth rumble and roar, as in an earthquake. Never, that is, until yesterday evening, December 13, 2019. And yes, it was a Friday. But just a coincidence, of course.

Continue reading

Keeping one’s head up in ‘interesting times’

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Planting potatoes with granddaughter Mirabella (beautiful miracle), May 2, 2016. Photo by daughter, Lila Marie. And a good one it is.

When one reaches the pre-boomer age I’m at now, it makes no sense at all to look forward to spring. That’s despite yet another Canadian winter freezing itself in for a long stay and a “snow squall warning” in effect for the next couple of days. So, what else is new.

The only thing that makes sense for an old guy like me is embracing every new day when it has finally become obvious that every one of them is a Hallelujah! gift.

Yet, here I am, imagining it’s late May in the spring of 2020 and I’m out in the back garden again doing a first weeding in rows of recently emerged potato plants a month after planting, just like I was in the spring of 2016.

There was hope in the ground, and in the air, then. But a cloud had also appeared Continue reading

Alberta’s American heritage and the threat to Canadian national unity

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The official municipal flag of the city of Lethbridge, Alberta, a version of the flag American whiskey traders flew over Fort Whoop-up before 1874

Winter has come relatively early here at Hope Ness, as elsewhere in this part of Canada, from the Great Lakes to the Atlantic. It came much earlier on the Canadian prairies, just as farmers were taking in the harvest; and even on Canada’s Pacific coast, normally still quite balmy in mid-autumn.

Meanwhile, another big chill has gripped Canada: a serious threat to national unity in the wake of the apparently divisive results of the recent federal election. Continue reading

A hard morning frost, joyful wild apples, the soul’s journey, and Putin’s plan.

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Hope Ness, late October, 2019. The heart cries out with joy at the sight of such a tree.

A hard frost covered ground-level Hope Ness this morning as the dogs and I went for our early-morning walk. ‘Early morning’ is a relative thing though: as one day follows another it gets a little later and dusk a little sooner as the sun goes south. The dark, clay-loam soil I turned up in the front field a couple of weeks ago was white with the fragile lightness of frozen dew as the sun began to rise above the line of the woods to the south-east. Continue reading

Two smallish-type poems

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“The man who invented time was a fool.” Dan, circa 1961, the village cafe, Toronto

Waiting

A few dark grapes, some cheese, a bit of bread;

An ear, or more, of just-picked sweet corn.

It is enough

For now.

 

Sun going down

Last pick of late corn,

Sun going down in the west.

Delicious, as always.

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The real ‘peaches and cream.” Sweet enough.

 

“May you live in interesting times”

The origins of that now very relevant and ironic old saying are not clear,  though it’s known in English as “the Chinese curse.” However, no actual Chinese source has ever been found.

The Chinese are indeed an interesting people in their own right, as the world well knows, now that “the sleeping giant,” as Napoleon called China, has been awakened. And by that, I mean “interesting” in its most obvious non-ironic meaning..

At any event, the saying often comes to my mischievous mind to describe the times we’re in, especially since the fateful American presidential election of 2016. Continue reading

On climate change and sweet corn, and other things that change history

Indulge me, dear Reader (cap deliberate), for I am about to complain for the umpteenth time about climate change, and specifically its disruptive effect on that engine of weather in these parts, the Jet Stream.

The Environment Canada Weather daily weather graphic for this day, as you can see, shows the Jet Stream dipped south over much of east-central North America, so far south into the U.S. that the full extent of its reach is not shown. But the temperature-range aspect of the graphic clearly shows temperatures in Pennsylvania, for example, as well as most of southern Ontario, are colder than northern Alberta, Canada, and even the Canadian Northwest Territories.

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I look at the seven-day forecast for this region of southern Ontario, specifically the Bruce Peninsula, and no day is forecast to reach a high of 20 degrees Celsius. This, along with flooded fields, is not good news for farmers, including vegetable gardeners like me: certain warm-weather crops need more than 20 C to germinate if untreated seeds are used. That means not treated with fungicides to prevent the seeds from rotting in the ground while they wait for warmer temperatures.

I’ve always loved growing sweet corn, my favourite food. In previous years I’ve always managed to get my corn planted before the end of May, when normally by then suitably warm temperatures could be depended on to arrive. That was, well, normal. But ‘normal’ seems to be gone. Last year I had to replant when late-May corn fell victim to cool weather. This spring, I waited as long as possible and planted corn June 8 to 10, with sunny days in the forecast. Any later would mean missing the late summer, local sweet corn market season already glutted with corn from warmer climates much further south. I see, for example, sweet corn grown in Georgia is already for sale at local stores. But then the clouds, rain and cool weather came back before, I fear, the corn had a chance to fully germinate. It still remains to be seen what comes up. I’ll try not to send too many negative vibes out there where the corn and squash are planted.

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The 2017 garden

I find myself wondering if climate change and its disruptive impact on the Jet Stream spells the end of farming sweet corn and other temperature-tender crops in the more northerly parts of Southern Ontario. Who would have thought? Back in the days when ‘global warming’ was the more-often used term to describe what was happening to the world’s climate, I used to imagine southern Ontario becoming semi-tropical. But not so; on the contrary.

I feel guilty about complaining. Millions, even billions are suffering far worse from the effects of climate change in the wider world, from unprecedented floods in parts of eastern Canada and the U.S. Midwest, to drought and famine in Africa, and increasing numbers of extreme weather disasters happening who-knows-where next.

Historians who know their stuff will say, or should be saying already, that previous climate changes in certain parts of the world, for whatever reasons, has changed the course of history before. The Roman Empire declined and fell for many reasons. But ultimately an empire already weakened and rotted from within by civil wars and incompetent emperors, ultimately fell victim to the overwhelming pressure of massive migrations of people driven out of the steppes of central Asia by drought.

If this is starting to ring a bell of current familiarity, then so be it.

This modern period of rapid, unprecedented climate change brought on by unsustainable, human, industrial activity will lead to catastrophic disruptions of socio-economic life on earth that will make the fall of the Roman Empire look small indeed by comparison.

The date of the final collapse of the western Roman Empire is usually given as 476, when the last western Emperor, based in Rome, was disposed. The Eastern Empire, based in Constantinople (now Istanbul) continued to exist — its fortunes ebbing and flowing — until the great city itself was conquered by the Ottoman-Empire Turks in 1453.

I think it’s fair to say the Roman Empire was not all that Roman in its demographic make-up long before it collapsed in the west. In a word, it was multicultural, home to many different nationalities. As a Republic it rose to greatness and survived many formidable, possibly fatal, challenges because it met those challenges defiantly with determination and necessary change. But in the period of decline it lost it’s ability to think creatively. One might say it became ultra-conservative. It built walls, and numerous fortified positions on the frontiers of the empire to keep the “barbarians’ out. Inevitably, that was an ill-conceived strategy, bound to fail.

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Of course, there’s no way now of knowing if embracing change, and building on its multicultural experience to welcome newcomers into a renewed vision of what the Empire could become would have saved the western empire, or whatever it might have been called. By that time it may have been to late. The decline and fall of the Roman Empire may have begun when Julius Caesar broke with the long-held, underlying law of Rome and ‘crossed the Rubicon’ with his devoted legion.

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We are at such a moment now, by the way.

The child-man, would-be emperor whose name I can’t bring myself to say is no Julius Caesar. But, Heaven help us all, he has the fate of the world in his hands, and will likely start a ‘wag-the-dog’ war before the 2020 U.S. presidential election.

But he is not the problem. Rather, he is a symptom of it. We are the problem, we terribly imperfect human beings, we irrational beings, lost in our dangerous tribal nonsense, incapable of coping with change.

But there’s more to being human than that: at a critical point in human evolution, faced with catastrophic environmental  conditions, a relatively small group of our ancestors decided to take matters in hand and begin a long, dangerous trek in search of a new home. They survived by being innovative, creative, determined, and last, but not least, by taking advantage of the diversity of abilities, talents and character in their community. In effect, the new home they sought and eventually found, was within them.