Ah, the joys of a late spring

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April 14, 2018, Hope Ness, Ontario, Canada

The local store where I buy my Big Beautiful Boy’s dog food was fairly busy one morning earlier this week. Housed in an older building, the décor steeped in Canadian, farm-store heritage, it’s staffed and operated by folks who call you by name – or soon will, if you’re new. If they say, “have a nice day,” they really mean it.

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Last tap for a tough, old tree

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Trees have a lot to tell us about the state of their world, and ours. They’re in trouble too.

That tough, old sugar maple clinging for dear life to a primordial rock up there by my barn, for example, has surely been through many a hard winter, summer drought, and other traumatic seasonal surprises. But this late winter/early spring, maple sap/syrup season must be one of the most challenging in its long history of stolid endurance. Continue reading

Finding Hope in “interesting times”

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“May you live in interesting times” is an ancient Chinese curse, made all the more effective, one imagines, by being so nicely understated. The full extent of the catastrophe that might befall the victim is left to their imagination.

Some, perhaps even many, might say we are currently living in the sort of “interesting times” that would meet the requirements of the curse, with real or potential, world-changing catastrophe shaping up or already running amok on several fronts.

Some of it gets plenty of news coverage, more than enough, you might say. The whole world has the proverbial ringside seat to the decline and fall of a great democracy, and the real threat that poses for every living soul on earth, and future generations. Vast news resources, traditional and new, are focussed on one madman’s every troubling word, tweeted or otherwise.

Meanwhile, other urgently important news gets nowhere near the attention it needs and deserves. It appears somewhere below the actual and virtual fold in the headlines for a day or so, before being relegated to the archival back pages, out of mass-public sight, and mind.

That appears to be the routine fate of news reports about the latest studies into the unfolding effects of global warming and climate change. Such studies invariably express an urgent need for the world to take action to stop it from happening, or else “interesting times” shall be the inevitable consequence.

Such was the case again with coverage of the results of an “analysis” of declining oxygen levels in vast areas of the open oceans, as well as coastal areas. It was co-authored by 22 scientists and published early this month in the journal Science. 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

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

Gratitude journal #2: Meeting my touchstone

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About 15 minutes up a section of the Bruce Trail through the woods near my place there’s a small branch trail leading to a cliff-edge lookout over Hope Bay, and Georgian Bay off in the distance. But on the way there the trail winds through a rugged area with large, moss-covered boulders on either side. Especially on grey, overcast days the moss has a luminous, iridescent glow. I have stopped and taken a closer look at some of them, especially the little gardens that have managed to take root on top, where there must be a thin layer of soil collected over a great many years. It’s a wonder, how nature can endure and survive on so little, through winter’s bitter cold in these parts, under a protective blanket of snow, and come alive in the spring. Continue reading

Deer in the headlights, and the intelligence of mushrooms

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Just after night settled in here – about 6 p.m. in mid-November – I was driving slowly along Cathedral Drive when suddenly my headlights lit up two white-tailed deer a short distance ahead. I had plenty of time to slow down more in case they panicked the wrong way into my van; and time to get a good look at the beautiful creatures as they literally high-tailed it off the road and into the woods. Continue reading