Wednesday 29 May 2024

Robert Frear Steals The Parade

    This weekend McBride has its big, Pioneer Days celebration.  Our little village organizes all kind of hoopla for the annual event.  Activities include a “Rock, Paper, Scissors” contest, a slo-ball softball tournament, a quilt show at the Museum, a horseshoe tournament, chicken poop bingo, a dance, a pancake breakfast, logger sports, our Jam’s concert, and of course a parade down Main Street.  

    Whenever I think of Pioneer Days, I think of the parade, which always begins with the screaming sirens and flashing lights of the RCMP, Fire Department, and Medical Emergency Vehicles.  That is followed with floats made by community organizations, cowboys and cowgirls on horses, and costumed kids on bicycles.  Before and after the parade, there is a lot of visiting done on the sidewalks, as people catch up with the news from their neighbors, friends, and acquaintances.  

    Whenever I think of the parade, I always think of Robert Frear and his motorized wheelchair.    Just before the 2014 parade started, one of the big antique truck participants, couldn’t get its engine started.  Someone (probably clever Robert Frear) came up with the idea of having the crippled huge truck towed down the Main Street by his wheelchair. 

     They put the truck into neutral, and attached a towline between the truck and Robert’s 4-wheel drive wheelchair and Robert towed the truck in the parade.  When I saw it, I assumed that it was just a stunt to make it look like it was being towed, but I later found out I was mistaken, the truck was actually being pulled by Robert Frear’s surprisingly mighty wheelchair.  

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Tuesday 28 May 2024

The Explosion of Green

    I was once told that my brother-in-law hated green.  I was really taken aback by that news, because green has always been one of my favorite colors.  (James Taylor’s lyric:  “Deep greens and blues are the colors I choose.” bonded with me the instant I first heard them)  Of course, my brother-in-law lives in Hawaii, so I guess he gets an overload of green all year long.  I live in a different environment, where throughout all of those months of winter, we get nothing but grays and whites, which starves me of color, so when spring finally arrives with its abundance of color, I love it.

    Because of our long winters, our growing season is short, so those plants that are able to live here, know they have to get their growing done in a hurry, and as a result, we have a jungle-like explosion of green every spring. 

    One winter I was going through some slides I had taken during the summer, and I was actually shocked upon seeing the jungle of green that they displayed.  When we used to walk the trail through our neighbor’s property, you could hardly see through the walls of green which lined both sides of the path.  It got kind of scary, because there was no way you would be able to see a bear feasting on berries amongst all of that growth.

    The year has now arrived at the point where green dominates the bush.  The trees have all leaved out, as have the brush, and ground plants, all of them striving to make the most of the warmth of spring and summer, before being thrust once again into winter.

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Monday 27 May 2024

Media Deprivation

    It seems I have always been addicted to media.  I remember my dependence on the newly introduced transistor radios and the “Golden Age of Television” during my elementary education days, and then later when I was in high school and university, record albums and 45’s where added to my addiction.  I then, also became extremely interested in the news too, so it wasn’t only music that I needed.

    Today, you hear a lot about how addicted people have become to their mobile phones and social media, and the how they begin to break out in a sweat when the device is taken away from them.  That always reminds me of our immigration to Canada.

     In order for us to immigrate, I had to take a job that no Canadians wanted.  The job I took was teaching in a one-room school in a very remote lumber camp, with no roads in or out of the place.  Because of its isolation, it was accessed by plane.

    The photo above shows where we lived during our first year (1973) in the camp.  We had to make a lot of sacrifices in order to immigrate, but we were young and adventurous.  

    One of the sacrifices we were forced to make was living in the absence of media, and that was very difficult for us to live with.  The camp was very remote, 110 miles (177km) as the crow flies, away from the nearest town (Ft. St. James), with nothing but forests, lakes and rivers in between.   As a result we had no television reception, and extremely rare radio reception (sometimes at night if the weather was right).  We depended heavily on the mail which was always late and sporadic.  

    I did have my stereo, record albums, and guitar, but I really missed staying current with what was going on in music, so I subscribed to Rolling Stone Magazine.  During those three times a year when we were able to leave camp and get out to some town,(Christmas, Spring Break, and Summer Vacation)  I always bought some new albums of recording artists I had read about.  

    For news, we subscribed to Newsweek Magazine, but it was always 2 weeks or so, out of date by the time it arrived in the camp mail.

    During our second and third year living in the Silvacan Resources Camp, the school district did move in a new mobile home for us to live in, but we still had to do without radio and television reception, and continued to depend on the mail for our information.  Sometimes during Postal Union strikes we had no mail for months.

    After that third year, I resigned the Camp teaching job and took a position in a 2 room school in a hamlet called Avola, where we did have CBC radio and television reception.  That was a big relief after living 3 years without it.

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Sunday 26 May 2024

This Almost Seems Normal

     For the Robson Valley, Spring is normally a season with a lot of rain showers coming off of the Pacific.  After more than a year of extreme drought, we are suddenly beginning to see that string of rain showers once again.  They have been coming daily, and the weather forecast is showing that they might continue for a few days more.  

    This is certainly welcome news, even though the moisture is making the grass in the lawn grow faster, and weeds in my garden are also making up for lost time.  However, the showers have lowered the forest fire danger and that is really a big relief.

    The photo above shows the raindrops trapped on the Lupine leaves.  I have taken similar photos hundreds of times, but still love the effect whenever I see it.

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Saturday 25 May 2024

Local Orchids

    A couple of days ago I was reading an article about scientists trying to save endangered orchids.  They discovered that for many of orchids to grow, particular kinds of fungus have to be growing in their soil.  This made me think of the orchids that grow naturally in the Robson Valley.  I don’t know if they too require a certain fungi to be in the soil.

    Like most people, I always associate orchids with the Tropics, and certainly the tropical orchids are often spectacular in appearance.  BC is home for some orchids, but generally they are not as “showy” as those in the tropics.

    I am aware of three types of orchids that grow locally.  The one in the photo above is the most beautiful of the three.  It is a Calypso Orchid.  I spotted these growing beside the trail that we take up to our waterline on Sunbeam Creek.  

    The photo above is the Mountain Ladyslipper.  They are presently blooming along the path around my pond.   I took this photo this morning.  There are also a variety of yellow Ladyslippers that are sometimes seen.  Unlike most of orchids, Ladyslippers can grow in disturbed areas, and are often seen growing in ditches along roadways.

    The third local orchid that I occasionally see is the Striped Coralroot.  I always expect them to be more beautiful, and its rather dull dark red stripes are always a bit of a disappointment.

    Like I mentioned in the introduction, a lot of orchids are endangered.  Some because their habitat is being destroyed, and others because people dig them up and try to transplant them in their gardens.

    Just let them be and enjoy seeing them in the wild, when you come upon them.

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Friday 24 May 2024

Hey, That's My Name Being Sullied

    The other day I was reading an article from Wired Magazine on my iPad.  It was entitled “Women at the Bottom of the World”, about the abuse dumped on women scientists who travel to do work in Antarctica.  The piece started out telling the story of Jane Willenbring, a 22 year old women working on her Masters in Earth Science at Boston University.  

    She went on a 4 person expedition to Antarctica led by her famous professor of Geology.  The experience turned out to be a nightmare for Willenbring.  In Antarctica, her egotistical and vain professor turned out to be an abusive and cruel jerk.  One of the four people along on the expedition was not even a scientist, it was the brother of the professor, who he had brought along “for fun”.  The professor only provided 3 tents for the 4 people and expected Willenbring to share a tent with his brother.  When she asked why he couldn’t share a tent with his brother, he replied, “Because he likes you.”

    There was a lot more cruelty an abuse to come for Willenbring, but the thing that really shocked me was when I read the name of the professor.  It was David Marchant.  WHAT????

    I was incensed that this jerk had the same name as me.  Somehow that didn’t seem right that someone with my name had acted so callously and cruel toward others, especially women.

    Throughout the 70+ years of my life, my name seemed to be “my” name, a name I tried to always be associated with “good” and “kindness”.  I knew of course that there were other people in the world with the same name, but finding out that the name was also claimed by such a despicable person as this professor was upsetting.  I just hope that all of the other David Marchants out there are honorable people.

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Thursday 23 May 2024

No Mow May


    While this is pretty late in the month to be mentioning this, Greenpeace Canada is urging people not to mow their lawns in May, in order to allow for food for the pollinators.  Not mowing is really a hard sell, because it seems most people treasure sterile-looking, mono-cultured, low cut lawns.  Such lawns are totally useless and even harmful to the world.  They offer nothing, except some misguided pleasure to those who think that is how things should be.

    Every summer I blog about my mowing practices.  I do mow my diverse lawn, but while I am pushing the lawnmower, if I come upon a bunch of wildflowers, I mow around it so that they have time to bloom and reseed.  This of course, makes my lawn look patchy and raggedy to those “lawn-heads” who like everything to look uniform, but I am happy to have the diversity which helps the wild plants and pollinators who are finding our changing environment increasingly more difficult to survive in.

    I do tolerate a lot of blooming dandelions in my lawn.  The bees and other animals love them.  I have even seen Kona chomping on them.  Once they are done blooming, I mow them down.  

    There are a lot of advantages to not mowing so often:  Plant diversity, food for pollinators, money saved on gasoline, and more free time.  Like I said, I will mow them later in the season, while mowing around the other plant species whose lifecycles have them bloom later. 

    Not mowing, does cause a problem now that I am hyper-aware of forest fires.  Tall plants are more prone to catching and quickly spreading fire than do low growing plants, so I have to keep that in mind and make sure I am not causing problems that way.

    Living in a rural area means I have a fairly large lawn, and I tend to mow sections of it at different times, so if I mow an area with a lot of flowering plants, I make sure there is another area with other plants that the pollinators go to and feed on.

    The photos show one area of my lawn that I have purposely not mowed.  The dandelions and forget-me-nots are attracting bees and small pollinators, and beside that, I think it is a lot more interesting to look at that a uniform area of grass, and it is a lot prettier too.

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