I’ve been trying to figure out for the last several years if my increasing churlishness is a response to the worldwide ecological disaster unfolding all around us or….simply the sourness that often accompanies senescence. I spent most of October and part of November at sea counting seabirds. I followed this up with a 3-week stint at our isolated little cabin on the edge of the boreal forest on Grand Manan Island. Returning home from these escapades is always tough – the mass of buildings, new construction, and traffic congestion as well as the ongoing decimation of the countryside (“development” I think they call it) stand in such stark contrast. It’s difficult to keep the blues from wrestling you to the ground.
The papers, television and internet are filled with reports on the latest climate change anomalies. Followed by the simplistic ways we can save ourselves and the planet by reducing “emissions” – whether they’re from cars or cows. But let’s face it, all the suggestions, while some may have merit, aren’t going to fix the problems. The problems are just the symptoms of the overriding cause – that no one seems to want to talk about: overpopulation, and the fact that population growth is continuing to explode out of control. Western societies may be working at retooling transportation methods but It’s not clear if we’ve really thought through the environmental costs of the batteries that will be required or how we’ll recycle those batteries or even how all the electricity required to top up those batteries will be generated. And as “third world countries” develop a middle class that wants to drive cars rather than motor scooters or just bicycles, the demand for this type of power will soar even more. Of course, we can sequester carbon by planting trees. Hmmm….so what if we didn’t cut down the massive forests that already protect us and provide oxygen? Hmmm…
I live in a small rural community. But it’s not going to be small or “rural” much longer. The pace of development is increasing noticeably; just look at what is going on around Caledonia…and Binbrook…and pretty well throughout the “Golden Horseshoe”, once renowned as some of the richest farmland on the planet but now just a mass of concrete. And “rural” has become just another name for soybean and corn crops (almost all genetically modified) – how many soybeans do we actually need anyway?
Oops! I can feel myself getting churlish again…
The Christmas potlatch is over. (I wonder what the environmental cost is of the crass consumerism that it now entails – how much useless stuff changes hands, a large percentage of it involving plastics in some form or other?) But for a few years now at our house we also celebrate the Winter Solstice. This ancient fete – NO presents, just good food and drink – recognizes the return of the life-giving sun as the days begin to get longer and the nights shorter. For us it’s a time to reflect on the year gone by and to give some anticipatory thoughts to what’s coming. Migration will be starting soon – no matter what we do to the planet – and I want to be ready for it. Of course it pains me that bird numbers have been reduced by about a third world-wide – especially in long-distance migrants – but I am confident that when humans manage to destroy themselves (and Covid may be just the beginning as we pack in on top of each other) bird numbers will rebound dramatically and forests and grasslands will once again be the rule.
Marnie’s finding of a white Bluejay this Fall I feel is significant (or, at least, I will treat it as such). Now, I’m not a superstitious person at all. But it’s simply common knowledge that a white Bluejay portends nothing but good things – it’s a clear and objective sign that conditions are on the mend…at least locally. It will be a good migration monitoring year for us, that’s obvious. So, rest up, put on layers of migration monitoring-enhancing fat, and get ready for the new year. It should be a good one.