Hazy is the descriptor for these mid summer days in much of Canada. We always have many forest fires and often encounter smoky skies, but this year is worse than most. In much of the west it is hot, very hot. We are no stranger to 30 C weather in Winnipeg, but this year there have been several days of 39 and 40+ C. Rain is a thing of memory. Electric storms ignite new fires. Why is this happening? Sunspot activity, I am told. This cyclical phenomenon is always disruptive of weather on our planet.
It suits this year of pandemic and panic, doesn’t it?
Despite the prognostications of poor, exploited Greta Thunberg and all the anxious kids out there worrying that the world is coming to an end because of manmade climate changes, we have been through these times before and we will be again. The planet is not a static entity in a static universe. Things are always changing, moving, waxing and waning. The memory of man, like his imprint upon today’s tableau, is fleeting and insignificant. We cannot remember those other times and our puny attempts at recording events for future humans are always flawed and of little real value. Why? Because the world is always changing, including our record keeping technology, our languages, and the subtle, subliminal meanings we rely on in current times to get the message across. We seldom say what we really mean in plain words, expecting an interconnected, universal-think world to “get it”.
Several hundred years later, few can recapture those subtleties.
Forests don’t need the written word to guide them. They know they need periodic fire to regenerate. Some even need incredible heat to pop open seed capsules so that they can replant themselves.
As a gardener, it is hard for me to accept that anyone could believe that we have some sort of dominion over the land and the sea, not to mention the stars and the weather. I work with the natural world and never stop marvelling at how it prevails no matter how hard I try to bend it to my will. But then perhaps I should not be surprised at the fervour that seems to accompany those who express alarm at climate change. Our hubris is limitless. All religions seem to rest on this illusion that we are the chosen, and therefore, superior beings on earth (and maybe in the universe) and that it stands to reason that our deliberated actions can have an irradicable effect on all life.
Now the world is being told that we must abandon civilization as we currently know it and follow a new dictate towards something called zero-based carbon emissions. Well, if that were at all possible, we would certainly eradicate all life, since carbon is the basis of all life, but this another story.
The last thing people need right now is more threat of disaster. I worry for our young people who have been so affected by the dire pandemic predictions of the media who pass on their practiced panic to the public and hence to social media channels. Even now, when all logic supports the contention that those who are double vaccinated are safe from contracting and communicating the virus, but that if one somehow escaped immunity after vaccination and still gets COVID, it is almost always a mild case, the media continues to spew exaggerated reports of how much danger we are all in.
Ah, well, back to the garden, pulling weeds (that are rampant this year) and admiring the brilliant activity of the happy, tropical canna blooming luminously in the heat and watching the antics of the squirrel triplets who are still all together, oddly, and who all think that my garage is the perfect haven (wrong!).
In the back garden, amidst the enthusiastic goutweed, I have discovered the place where a family of raccoons have been clandestinely meeting, rolling in the once lush growth, and knocking down my bird feeders to get the juicy nuts and seeds I offer up to my feathered friends.
Animals have been very much in evidence this year. I am told deer have been making their way through the enclosed park behind my house. They would be quite welcome to stop and have a meal of some of the ambitious plants my neighbour, Leslie, and I have planted over the years. Those aggressive greens don’t mind drought and have grown vigorously this year. Instead, our graceful gourmet friends prefer to come round to the front street and nibble on various ornamentals, including earlier in the summer the canna and certainly the hosta and even the Joe Pye weed! After the damage they did to my now uncaged apple tree, Mr. Bobbex has been keeping them at bay and away from my hydrangeas in that part of the garden. But they have been nipping off the buds on the milkweed, curse them!
My cottaging friends are all complaining of bears, and another neighbour told me of a family of foxes that took up residence in his back yard under the shed. Now the mom and her kits haven been seen patrolling the streets of Charleswood. I would love to see them.
I think the critters are thirsty. The other day, a squirrel jumped from the fence and into the pool, the daredevil. Having just fished out a relative from the skimmer, I shouted at it for being so damn stupid and ran for the net, but by the time I got to it, the little beggar had managed to scratch his way up the side of the pool and away. Now I am putting water in several birdbaths, not so much for the birds but for the squirrels – and, I suppose, the cursed raccoons, too.
The world is so out of whack. A contractor, with no spatial instincts and I guess no tape measure, tried to move a massive house down Roblin Boulevard, which was too narrow to accommodate this. So, he mowed down the trees on the centre boulevard! Now these trees probably should have been removed because some were dead, (ironically, the only one he left standing was already dead!) Still, it wasn’t his right to do this, so sensible residents are calling for his penalty to be the replacement of the trees, times four, and I believe that he should also water and maintain them for the next ten years!
Why is it that people think it is okay to kill a tree on the property of another person (including public property) and to be able to do this with impunity? I have witnessed a neighbour who was angry about leaves from a neighbour’s yard littering his lawn, so he called a tree service when the neighbour was out of town and had the tree cut down. Then he dared the neighbour to sue him! If it had been the neighbour’s front porch, it would be no contest, but living property seems to be up for destruction without interference from the authorities.
In this case, they arrested someone and charged one of the house movers with mischief and assessed him a $5,000 fine!
That aside and back to the garden, I am sharing a couple of pictures to prove my point about the fierce determination of nature. One is an intrepid oak, planted by a squirrel long ago, and no matter how hard I try to discourage it, it comes back bigger and more determined that ever. It is not that I am against squirrel plantations – I have several naturally planted trees in my yard, but this one is right up against the foundation. Another is the rejuvenation of the amur maple that was hit so badly in the October snowstorm of two years ago. This year, she is beautifully decked out with new branches and new leaves and a happy attitude. Not so the hardy lilacs, one in the front and one in the back. Neither looks like it will survive another year, and the city-planted boulevard tree is very dead.
Plants irrevocably change the earth and the soil they grow in. They also “eat” carbon dioxide, breathing it in and breathing out oxygen. They produce harvestable energy while they are growing, storing it as combustible material or, eventually, petroleum products when they pass on. Some have even learned the secret of almost eternal life. The gingko can live 3,000 years and has not changed in 200 million years.
And we think we can predict the end of the world? My advice? Talk to the trees!