Pot Luck April 2014

Now hiring
    No, it’s not an April Fool’s joke. The hunt is on again for an editor, a person with a way with words and manure on his or her boots. One without the other doesn’t seem to work. Finding the individual with the combination of skills and background needed to run with the tasks at DvL Publishing Inc. is becoming a full time and tedious job. 
    “Skills” include writing and copy editing, working with print and in the digital world. The “background” is time in the trenches of a company publishing magazines or newspapers and maintaining an online presence. Knowledge about and a passion for things country, truly rural, and agricultural  – from gardens to family farms – is hugely important. The job is in Liverpool. It can not be handled from a distance via email, Skype, telephone, or string and a couple of paper cups. 
    Tastes of spring, the longer days and the time change are all welcomed here at Sandy Bay where otters can’t decide if they want to loll in the lakes or take a salty dip in the ocean. At times, as seen the other day, their tracks crossing the beach between choices of pool hint at adventures that must remain mysteries – like the ragged drag marks in the sand accompanying the paw prints of a single Lontra canadensis up from the shore and into the woods. A fish in tow? A dead lobster retrieved from a storm-smashed trap?
    Lontra, our River otter’s genus name, was Lutra until taxonomists decided European and North American otters were different enough to warrant separate names. DNA analysis, which – it’s reasonable to guess – played a part in discussions leading to the change, must be giving those who make a living assigning names to living things great joy or severe headaches.
    By any name, the playful otter is welcomed company. Unlike the Red squirrels otters don’t chew up mattresses in the Harrison Lewis Centre cabins. Unlike porcupines they don’t gnaw cherished trees or rudely force their quilly selves on the noses of inquisitive dogs merely interested in saying hello as dogs say hello.
    Flocks of robins have descended on the lawn where rain, fog, and sun have sent the snow packing. Robins are not a sign of spring, however, for we see them off and on all winter, going back years. Warblers warbling. Now there will be the sign of spring that is true and sure to please.

    Displeasure is being expressed over a decision by Parks Canada to allow erection of a huge war memorial along Cape Breton’s Cabot Trail. Is the Harper government trying to placate veterans angry over the decision to close regional Veterans Affairs offices? Acadia University geologist Sandra Barr sent Rural Delivery a copy of a letter written to Cape Breton MP Mark Eyking, signed by staff and faculty in Acadia’s department of Earth and Environmental Science, with a thoughtful opinion why the decision is wrong-headed. Here is some of what they wrote.

    “As members of the Canadian public, we object to the placement of such a large and obtrusive structure in a national park, an area dedicated to the preservation of our natural heritage. As geoscientists, we object specifically to the placement of the structure at Green Cove, one of a small number of geoheritage sites proposed by the Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources. 
    “Green Cove is the best location in Cape Breton Highlands National Park for viewing the Black Brook Granitic Suite, an assemblage of 375-million-year-old rocks that underlie the eastern third of the park. The Green Cove location is a popular stop for students, geoscientists, and the public because of the unique and geologically significant characteristics of the rocks, and the superb accessibility of the site on an otherwise very rugged coastline. . . . We very much support our veterans, but a national park is not an appropriate place to locate such a monument.”

    Were my mother here to express her view she’d likely quote her great Aunt Day advising, “fools’ names and fools’ faces, always seen in public places.” Be it graffiti or a monument, there’s people that just can’t leave nature alone. 
    Someone on radio said the great thing about this monument was more tourists will come. Wow. Forget it. Tourism as an overall benefit to the Canadian economy is part fiction. Maybe all fiction. Unless we measure dollars spent by visitors each summer against what we spend kiting off to exotic climes come winter it’s not at all clear there’s a net benefit. The ads and slogans are amusing. Nova Scotia’s “Come to life,” for instance, has us lifting out of a casket. Now it’s “Take yourself there,” which may tickle the imagination of a European. It has me dreaming of palm trees and snorkeling with sea turtles.
    We spin yarns to lure the innocent. “Waves as warm as our people,” claims the headline over a photo from the Tourist Association of Nova Scotia of a guy tossing a child over the water like a fisherman casting his net. The truth is that waters of the Atlantic coast are known for being nut-cracking cold most all summer. Maybe that’s what writer and illustrator Tomi Ungerer, while living in Lockeport, N.S., had in mind when he wrote in “Far Out Isn’t Far Enough” that we Nova Scotians keep our emotions in freezer bags. 

    When I began spinning my own “Pot Luck” yarns the other day robins were finding the bare ground in the back yard inviting. An inch or two of frost had given way to the spring-rising sun. How powerful that distant orb becomes as it lifts off the horizon. Find shelter from the wind on the coldest sunny day and its warmth seeps deep between your shoulder blades. 
    How quickly that all can change and has changed today. Sorry, Jack Robin. Snow and bitter cold has taken over once more and it might as well be the first of January. Hang in there. Better days are coming.  DvL

And the winner is. . .
    Winner of the January RD survey draw (and a copy of “Getting Rid of Alders,” stories and more from Rural Delivery’s first 25 years), is Barbara Green from Victoria, P.E.I., a vegetable and flower grower. Barbara comments, “We need to know what other people are doing – what we could buy from them.”  As for the greatest need? “Do more to support local business.”