Jack’s Walk

In the space of a week, we’ve gone from this,

Flooding at Pittock Lake ©voyager, all rights reserved

to this,

 It’s winter again, and Jack approves ©voyager, all rights reserved

to this.

Oh No, green grass. Winter is melting again, and Jack does not approve/ ©voyager, all rights reserved

Today marks the third time in January that winter has come and gone. It’s expected to rain all weekend, and the creeks and rivers are already running high and fast. They’ve issued flood warnings. In January. In Canada.

 

Jack’s Walk

Jack in the yard today, ©voyager, all rights reserved

We had a few flurries of snow today, but it didn’t amount to much, and it won’t stick around. The ground isn’t frozen yet, and the temp doesn’t want to stay below zero this winter. We’ll get a few relatively cold days at -4°c, which is warmish for here in January, then it swings up to a few degrees above zero and stays there for a few days. I know I’ve been talking a lot about the unseasonable weather this week, but I have one more observation that I want to share. It’s about the grass. I think it’s been growing.

I know that sounds ridiculous, but I can see it with my own eyes. Yesterday when Jack and I were at the park, I noticed that the grass looked green. Not the dull brownish-green of winter, but rather the bright Kelly green of late summer or early autumn. It was shaggy, too, and looked ready for a cut, but maybe that’s the way the parks department left it in the fall. I wasn’t really paying attention, so who knows. I do remember how my own grass was left in the fall, though, and it was a lot shorter than it is now. Our grass cutting service came by on Halloween and did the last cut for the year, and it was left nicely short and snipped. Then November got cold and nasty and I didn’t pay a lot of attention to the grass anymore.

Until today, when I checked it with a critical eye. It is definitely looking shaggier than it did in November. I can’t prove it. I didn’t think to take measurements at the time, and it wouldn’t make sense to take measurements now, but it looks like it could use a cut. Maybe there’s another piece of evidence, though – Jack. More specifically, Jack’s feet. My Bubba is allergic to grass, and he takes a mild steroid combined with an antihistamine in the summer. We usually stop giving it to him around the end of October, and he’s good until spring without it. It’s called a drug holiday, and it’s better for Jack’s overall health.  This winter, we’ve tried several times to discontinue the drug, but within a few days, Jack starts to gnaw and fuss with his feet again, and we have to restart the drug. I thought it might have something to do with road salt because he has less hair this winter, including around his foot pads, but it’s probably the grass. It’s growing.

Jack’s Walk

New Year’s Eve, 2018

The lake in our town was created with the installation of a dam in the early ’60s. It acts as a reservoir for flood management of the downstream Thames River, which runs through many small towns and eventually into the big city of London (Ontario.) Yesterday when I was out driving, I noticed that the river looked full and close to spilling its banks, which is odd because that’s what the dam is supposed to prevent, so this morning I threw a few dog towels in the car and took Jack up to the lake to have a look-see. Before I show you what we found, though, I want you to see what nearly normal looks like. That’s it up there in the first photo, which was taken at the canoe launch on the last day of December 2018, so about a year ago. In summer, the water level reaches all the way to the feet of the big trees in the photo, but in winter they keep it much lower. In fact, the water level is often so low that you can walk out nearly to the centre of the lake and not get your shoes wet. Here’s Mr. V and Jack doing just that.

©voyager, all rights reserved

Except for the open water instead of ice, that’s how the lake usually looks in the winter. You can walk on it. (It’s a local haha joke)

Well, today you cannot walk on it. Not even with Jesus’ magical shoes, could you walk on it.

©voyager, all rights reserved

©voyager, all rights reserve

It’s hard not to like a milder winter, but it comes at a pretty high cost.

See that sign up there on the left post? It’s a warning that the water has bacterial contamination and is unsafe for bathing. Which means that Jack couldn’t go swimming today, because our winters aren’t cold enough for long enough to kill germs anymore.

Jack and I have seen this sign before, but never in January, and it makes me think about a few things.

  1. 1) Climate change is happening so fast that I can see it from year to year.
  2. 2) Are we too late to fix it? and
  3. 3) Is humanity doomed?
  4. 4) Why isn’t there a dog depicted on the sign?

Jack’s Walk

Shovel Face ©voyager, all rights reserved

It’s melting! Rapidly melting! It’s +6°c today (-6°c yesterday), and we’re saying bye, bye to all the snow again. That would be the snow that I’ve shovelled twice and will no doubt shovel a third time because it’s going to be warm and rainy for a couple of days with snow expected again by Sunday night and then more melting next week. Sheesh! Snow… Shovel… Melt… Mud. Snow, shovel, melt, mud. I’m trapped in the back aching, snow moving, muddy, messy, messed-up Canadian version of the Groundhog Day of Climate Change. Since it’s still January, it will, of course, get cold again after that and I can only hope it will stay that way.

There. I’ve said it. I want January to be cold. It’s supposed to be cold. The lakes should be covered in ice, the ground should be frozen solid, Jack should have more hair than this and I should be bitching about how fucking cold it is, not about this crap.*

 

*Sorry, Australia. I know this crap is so much better than what you’re dealing with, but Father Weather won’t let me share. Be safe.

 

Jack’s Walk

More freshly fallen snow today. ©voyager, all rights reserved

Considering the climate crises in other parts of the world, I have nothing to complain about, but I’m going to anyway. Things just aren’t normal around here. Seriously, enough with the ping-pong weather already. On Friday, we arrived home from Montreal to 4°c weather and mostly bare lawns. I was feeling a bit smug after all the snow I shovelled while we were in Montreal, but then, on Saturday and Sunday, it snowed here, about 15 cm worth, and I remembered that this is Canada in January and snow is normal, so I just got on with it and shovelled. I figured that the previous few above zero days here in Ontario was only part of a regular January melt. Then on Monday and Tuesday, the temp was up to 3 or 4 degrees again, and a lot of the new snow melted. This morning, though, the temp plummeted to -6°, and it snowed, about 12 cm worth this time,  so I shovelled again – a bit less enthusiastically this time, though, because it felt like I was shovelling the same snow twice. Now, I see that the forecast is calling for another melt starting Friday with the temperature due to get all the way up to +11°c over the weekend. The temp will drop below that next week but is still set to stay above zero by 3 or 4 degrees. This is not an ordinary January melt.

I remember January melts from when I was a kid in the ’60s. They were a few days of slightly above-freezing temps when the snow melted a bit, making it heavy and ideal for forts and snowballs. Our winter cranky moms kicked us outside, and we’d congregate to play, all of us energized silly by the warmer air. Then it would get cold again and stay that way for 3 more months and often longer. There was none of this up and down cold or fully bare lawns in January. It was still winter. In Canada. And it was snowy, long and bloody cold.

This unpredictably warmer weather has implications for Jack, too. Possibly serious ones. Jack and I like to walk in the woods and in wildish areas, so tick prevention is a must. We’ve always used it on the advice of our vet from the first of June to the first of November. About 2 years ago, our vet added a second tic preventative that Jack takes from the first of March to the first of November. Apparently, ticks are active at temps just slightly above zero, and we have enough of those degree days now in early spring that ticks have become a concern. How much longer before ticks are a concern all year round and then what? Mosquitos in March?

Local Reminders of Global Warming

Last year the broken weather nearly killed my fig trees. There were signs of hope afterward, I wrote about it here.

This year, the broken weather has lead to me harvesting over 1 kg of fresh figs today, in late October, when it should be freezing already. I mean, I am glad the trees recovered and are doing well, but this is not normal. Sometimes a small good thing is a result of a big bad one I guess.

Mni Wiconi- Water is Life: In Memory of Caine

A year ago today our community was devastated by the death of our beloved Caine. The team here at Affinity struggled with how to honor Caine on this day and we finally decided to carry forward her message to love and honor the planet. Caine stood with the tribe at Standing Rock in their struggle against the DAPL and today we’re passing on a few stories about the continuing struggle of Indigenous communities to protect the land and water. We are in no way qualified to speak about Indigenous culture or history, but we do so today with great respect.

First, a few reminders of the meaning of Mni Wiconi – Water is Life.

Mni Wiconi – The Stand at Standing Rock

Mni Wiconi – Water is Life

Hear the message of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. Honor tribal sovereignty and the Earth we inhabit by telling President Obama to deny the easement by calling 202-456-1111. We need every person to call Obama this week before Dec. 5th. Please share. For more information visit standwithstandingrock.net#NoDAPL#StandwithStandingRock#standingrock#bankexit

Posted by Standing Rock Sioux Tribe on Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Also:

In an article on Indian Country Today, Woonspe—Education Gives Meaning to Mni Wiconi—Water Is Life they tell of the origin story behind the meaning of Mni Wiconi.

An origin story of the Oceti Sakowin, the Seven Council Fires, which make up the Lakota, Nakoda, and Dakota people, tells us that the blood of First Creation, Inyan, covers Unci Maka, our grandmother earth, and this blood, which is blue is mni, water, and mahpiya, the sky. Mni Wiconi, water is life.

The entire article is worth reading and the above link will take you right there.

♦♦♦

 

Many Standing Rocks: Three Years and Still Fighting, by Tracy L. Barnett – The Esperanza Project)

LaDonna Allard, center, and Cheryl Angel at a march led by the women of Sacred Stone to the backwater bridge one week after a brutal attack there by law enforcement. (Photo from social media) – The Esperanza Project

 

So water is in danger, globally. Right now Indigenous communities are still at risk, and they are standing up, because they have to stand up.  When you finally realize — WATER IS LIFE — you understand why you can’t sit back down.

People keep saying “after” Standing Rock – but I’m still of the same state of mind, I still have the same passion for the water,  it has to be protected. It was when I was at Sicangu Wicoti Iyuksa that I learned about the aquifers that were in danger and when I was at Standing Rock I learned about the rivers that were in danger.

We encourage you to read the article. Cheryl Angel passes on wisdom from a lifetime spent in activism for the planet. Her reflections on the movement at Standing Rock are insightful, as is her take on the ongoing struggle to protect water and land resources.

♦♦♦

Next, we’re providing links to 2 reports on the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s website.

SRST – No DAPL Remand Report Final, from February 5, 2019.

This first story is a damning and infuriating report on the deficient Corps of Engineers Analysis of the environmental impacts of the DAPL. The courts finally sided with the Standing Rock Tribe, but then decided that since the pipeline is already built they will let the oil flow.

Impacts of an Oil Spill from the Dakota Access Pipeline on the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe from February 21, 2018, so that you can see just how much is at stake.
Both stories connect you to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s website and we encourage you to have a look around. The About Us section contains lots of information about the history of the tribe and the reservation, as does the section about environmental issues.
♦♦♦
Next, we’re going to point you toward the Indigenous Environmental Network.
IEN is an alliance of Indigenous peoples whose mission it is to protect the sacredness of Earth Mother from contamination and exploitation by strengthening, maintaining and respecting Indigenous teachings and natural laws. Adopted in 1994 by the IEN National Council, Denver, Colorado
The IEN website has a broad focus and they carry a variety of interesting stories about the ongoing fight to protect the land and water. It isn’t all just talk, though. The IEN runs several important environmental campaigns including the Keep It In The Ground Campaign run by Dallas Goldtooth. Dallas was born into an activist family and stood as a water protector at Standing Rock. He’s an accomplished activist, teacher, writer, poet and comedian who uses story and humor to tackle difficult subjects.
Here he is with his comedy troupe, The 1491’s, at Vasser College in 2018. His message is full of hope.

And finally, we leave you with a clip found on Twitter 2 days ago by rq. It’s a true message of hope from The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and the it’s the perfect way to end this post.

 

Tree Tuesday

Chic Choc Mountains, Gaspe Peninsula ©voyager, all rights reserved

There’s one more reason to love trees. A new study from The Crowther Lab, ETH Zurich, published in the Journal of Science, July 2019, says that targeted reforestation could isolate 2/3 of human-made carbon emissions and would be the best way to mitigate the effects of climate change.

The researchers calculated that under the current climate conditions, Earth’s land could support 4.4 billion hectares of continuous tree cover. That is 1.6 billion more than the currently existing 2.8 billion hectares. Of these 1.6 billion hectares, 0.9 billion hectares fulfill the criterion of not being used by hu-mans. This means that there is currently an area of the size of the US available for tree restoration. Once mature, these new forests could store 205 billion tonnes of carbon: about two thirds of the 300 billion tonnes of carbon that has been released into the atmosphere as a result of human activity since the Industrial Revolution.

Calculations were made based on current conditions and cities and agricultural areas were not included because those areas are necessary to support human life.

According to Prof. Thomas Crowther, co-author of the study and founder of the Crowther Lab at ETH Zurich: “We all knew that restoring forests could play a part in tackling climate change, but we didn’t really know how big the impact would be. Our study shows clearly that forest restoration is the best climate change solution available today. But we must act quickly, as new forests will take decades to mature and achieve their full potential as a source of natural carbon storage…. The study also shows which parts of the world are most suited to forest restoration. The greatest potential can be found in just six countries: Russia (151 million hectares); the US (103 million hectares); Canada (78.4 million hectares); Australia (58 million hectares); Brazil (49.7 million hectares); and China (40.2 million hectares).

I encourage you to check out the Crowther Website where you can read the report in full. The site also offers a tool that allows you to pinpoint any area on the globe to find out about its reforestation potential.

 

via: Science Daily

Tree Tuesday

Embers and the Giants by Canadian artist Kelly Richardson – source CBC Arts

Canadian artist Kelly Richardson loves trees, especially the trees in the old growth rain forests on Vancouver Island where her latest work Embers and the Giants was filmed. Richardson fears for the future of these ancient trees and with good reason – deforestation is happening at an alarming rate and it’s recently been announced that another 109 hectares of pristine forest will be auctioned off.

Richardson’s work may prompt you to consider how we relate to nature as a species and to consider what the future may look like if we don’t choose a different path. In this video made by filmmaker Lisa Wu, you’ll travel to the forest with Richardson and get to see her at work making the landscape come alive in Embers and the Giants. The film was commissioned to participate in the XL Outer Worlds project celebrating the 50th anniversary of IMAX.

Canadian artist Kelly Richardson – source CBC Arts

Embers and the Giants will be at the Toronto Biennial of Art in Fall 2019, and then it’s travelling both across Canada and internationally. You can find out more about Kelly Richardson and her work here.

I’d like to thank rq for pointing this story my way.

via: CBC Arts

Tree Tuesday

©voyager, all rights reserved

The effects of human-caused increased greenhouse gases were predicted as early as the turn of the 20th Century and according to the Ivan Semeniuk of the Canadian Globe and Mail a NASA study of tree rings from the last 120 years is helping to prove out this theory.

In 1896, Swedish chemist Svante Arrhenius made a prescient calculation that showed the vast quantities of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere by burning coal and other fossil fuels would eventually cause the planet to get warmer.

Little did he realize that the effect he described was already under way and being dutifully recorded by a ready-made monitoring system distributed around the globe in the form of trees.

The growth record of trees is recorded in their rings and this growth is highly sensitive to changes in moisture.

Tree rings are among the most direct ways of measuring past climate because trees are sensitive to soil moisture. In drier years, trees grow more slowly and the annual rings that are recorded in their trunks become narrower. By comparing overlapping tree-ring patterns in wood that grew at different times on different continents, scientists have gradually built up “drought atlases” that show changes in moisture distribution dating back to the year 1400 or, in some areas, even earlier.

Drought atlases are nothing new, but using trees to measure the effects of drought across time and region is new science and it’s showing some startling trends.

The scientists found that after centuries of normal variations during which some places alternately became wetter or drier relative to each other, an additional effect on moisture emerged around 1900 that is consistent with climate change. Over all, the data show that much of North America, Australia and the Mediterranean have been getting drier over the past 120 years while parts of Asia, including India and western China, have been getting wetter.

The effect was especially pronounced during the first half of the 20th century, but became more subdued between 1950 and 1975. Since then, it has accelerated. The scientists posit that a huge increase in the release of sulphates and other airborne chemicals in the postwar era served to temporarily counteract the effect of greenhouse gases by deflecting sunlight and promoting cloud formation. This countertrend later subsided after air-quality regulations went into effect in North America and Europe.

The results of this study help confirm that human activity is directly related to global climate change, although trees in the southern hemisphere were not included because their growth patterns are not as seasonally visible.

So it seems that trees are helping to relate the story of climate change in new ways. I’m not surprised. Trees have proven to be one of mankind’s best natural resources and now they’re talking to us in ways we can understand. Whether people will listen is another matter.

 

Via: The Globe and Mail, May 2/19, Ivan Semeniuk

Surrounded by Rocks: An Exploration Series, Chapter 7

Here is Nightjar with the next chapter in her series.

Chapter 7 – West Hill: Going Up

We are now at the southern base of the West Hill and the entrance looks inviting. We are in a totally different environment, the soils here are obviously more fertile and can sustain denser vegetation. Let’s go up.

©Nightjar, all rights reserved

[Read more…]

Mushroom Hunting – Part 2

Yesterday we saw Part 1 of Nightjar’s quest to find mushrooms as a Tree Tuesday post. Today, the mushrooms have been found and Nightjar’s photos of them are so wonderfully evocative that I can almost smell that earthy forest scent.

... and here are the mushrooms! The yellow Tricholoma equestre were the ones we were searching for, and we did find enough for a meal. And then there were some pretty ones of unknown edibility (to us). There were more, but the mosquitoes make photography a very difficult task.

Thanks for braving the mosquitoes to get these photos, Nightjar, and thanks for sharing.

 

1. A mushroom-promising sight. © Nightjar, all rights reserved

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Tree Tuesday

Sent in by Nightjar, our trees this week tell a cautionary tale about the effects of climate change.

Mushroom Hunting Part 1...We went mushroom hunting last weekend and I decided to share some photos. I split them in two parts. The first doesn’t show mushrooms but rather our journey to find them. I knew that the wildfires last year had affected this area, but wasn’t sure if our favourite spot had burned or not. It did. I say green isn’t always hope because that green in the third photo is mostly acacias (Acacia longifolia) taking over the place. The future of these historical pine forests doesn’t look bright. We turned around and drove a bit south until we found a patch of forest that escaped the fires and didn’t look as dry and sterile. That’s when the mosquitoes attacked me, but there was also a lovely damselfly to make up for it.

Mushroom Hunting Part 2 will be posted tomorrow and it’s chock full of interesting photos of fungi found in the forest. Be sure to check it out. Thanks, Nightjar.

1. The road that no longer leads to mushrooms, ©Nightjar, all rights reserved

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