RD Put Luck January 2018

Bluster and garbage and gas

    Trump protests too much in recent tweeted response to allegations he is mentally ill-equipped to run the U.S. show – and show it has become, on his watch. But is Trump an aberration or revelation, exposing for everyone to see an ugly underbelly of the Excited States? Many fear Trump out of fear he would take the world to war rather than admit a mistake. It is scary to think our safety is in the hands of the likes of Trump and North Korea’s Kim Jong-un, while the democratic peanut gallery hosts the likes of Israel’s Netanyahu and the Philippines’ Duterte. 
    In both these countries proportional representation is either full-blown or entertained, but that would be a rant for another day. Only now to say Trudeau backed away from PR for Canada and lives to govern another day. How about reversing the decision to legalize recreational pot and its derivatives, and simply de-criminalize it? I smoked pot once, maybe inhaled a couple of times. Back then it was amusing to forget stuff and to get “the munchies.” These days forgetting comes too naturally, as does putting on weight.  
    And cold? I guess. As I write, I am thinking it is time this polar vortex took a spin in someone else’s parking lot. Canada’s top weatherman, asked to explain the phenomenon, glibly said it is because warm air has descended on the North Pole. The reporter seemed satisfied with that, not bothering to ask where that warm air came from, or why. Fake reporter.
    Wind was the evil-doer Christmas Day, gusting higher than experienced before over these past 46 years. Eighteen spruce and fir trees from three to 20 inches in diameter fell across the one-mile Sandy Bay Road, taking down power lines in the process. 
    Boxing Day we needed the help of an electrician at Nowe Electric in Bridgewater to talk me through how to encourage a linked breaker on the electrical panel in the basement to flip into generator mode. It was interesting being able to send photos of the wonky linkage by phone, which helped Mr. Nowe determine my problem had nothing to do with electricity and everything to do with a mechanical malfunction. With that assurance, fiddling, pushing, and prying with the help of a screwdriver finally convinced the mechanism to cooperate.

    The Rusty blackbird found dead on the porch day before yesterday was presumably a victim of the weather bomb that struck the Maritimes. Polar vortexes, weather bombs. How colourful. Anything to scare the bejesus out of us. One guess might be that the bomb blew the migratory blackbird north, as it blew Atlantic dovekies inland along the Eastern Shore. But Robie Tufts (Birds of Nova Scotia) considered there were “stragglers” among the Rusty blackbird population to be found well into January. 
One summer while taking part in a blackbird study in Maryland, we caught two unusual cowbirds in traps several miles apart. Initially no one knew what they were – beyond thinking they had to be related to our cowbirds. After a bit of investigation, one of the ornithologists on the Patuxent Wildlife Refuge team identified them with the help of his copy of Cowbirds of the World. Chestnut-sided cowbirds, as I recall, a sedentary species native to Argentina. 
    Patuxent’s statisticians went nuts calculating the impossible odds that we would catch not one but two of these birds within 20 miles of each other. Without a doubt, this would make a front-page news story. That is, until the next day when a small item appeared buried in the Washington Post telling of a shipment of passerines from South America, destined for the Smithsonian Zoo, that had broken open, allowing the birds’ escape.
    The cold has taken me back to a time I worked on a dairy farm in upper New York state, an Ayrshire farm – so long ago, we celebrated the breed’s lovely horns. One of my jobs was to climb up in the silo on sub-zero mornings to chisel corn silage away from the silo’s concrete walls and fork it down the chute into a waiting cart. 
    Food in, food out. After milking came clean-up, followed by a run to the fields spreading manure. The wisdom of the day was to spread daily – no value in handling manure twice. I trained a kitten to ride with me those cold mornings, tucked around the back of my neck providing a warm-blooded scarf. 
    The greater burden than forking silage those frosty mornings was cranking the old International to life. Wrrrnk . . . wrrnk . . . wrrnk. What a curse! One night the forecast was severe. I groaned to think how hard it was going to be starting that tractor in the coming cold, dark morning. 
But then, an inspiration, shazam! I was brilliant. I would park the red hulk beneath the fan exhausting warm air from the barn! Which I did. Only to find, come dawn, the nose of my tractor hidden beneath a glacier of frozen cow breath, belch, and broken wind.

    Speaking of things broken, this morning the top news story is that China is no longer taking our recycled sheet plastic. A great deal of that could be farm in origin, if clean, which often it is not. Good people do not use sheet plastic. But here I find myself on the bad side of good consumerism, for often I forget to shop with cloth bag in hand. Here’s a thought: bale sheet plastic and stash it away in abandoned gypsum quarries, from whence it may be mined some future day when need spurs invention of valuable recycling solutions.
    We might better do the same with bottles, tin cans, tires, and anything else piling up higgledy-piggledy because we have not figured a better way. There is something especially intriguing about tires. Few want to see them burned, for all the impurities that will be spewed into the air. Yet what becomes of tires worn away on our highways? If not spewed into the air we breathe, our roads should be thickly slathered with rubber. There should never be a need to re-pave. 
    It would make more sense to fill old holes with sorted trash ­– some future generation’s treasure – than to create new holes, as Alton Gas has in mind for storing natural gas. The company would use water pumped from the Shubenacadie River to flush salt deposits from beneath the surface of the earth near Stewiacke, N.S., creating caverns to store gas the province does not need. The Sipekne’katik (Mi’kmaq) First Nation, area residents, and the Council of Canadians condemn the project for several reasons. One, because up to 10,000 cubic metres of water will be pumped daily out of the nearby Shubenacadie River, turned to brine, and returned to the river, thereby raising the salinity. Two – a concern raised by a geologist living in the area – the caverns could leak. There could be fires at the surface. Nyah, nyah, my Bic’s bigger than yours!
    Shouldn’t we question throwing salt away, when we know it is an essential nutrient? People have died fighting over salt. Besides, I like it for sprinkling on my icy doorstep. 
    I best slip out of here before I get into trouble.  DvL