RD Put Luck April 2018

The sights and sounds of spring

    Listen to the Barred owls hoo-haw-ing in the night. For the hard-of-hearing they, and woodpeckers broadcasting their whereabouts on the gutter’s downspout, announce the coming of spring. Can worm castings be far behind?
    Here on Nova Scotia’s South Shore there is little if any frost in the ground. With the exception of a couple of polar vortices touching down in early January, winter has been one long blah season. Maples were tapped early. Were it not for high winds, I’d guess the weather has favoured a good sap run. Rain now, with any vestige of frost gone, would be good for recharging a thirsty water table.
    March landed like a lion on New Brunswick-based Cooke Aquaculture in Washington state. There, the senate passed legislation banning open-pen salmon farming. Many wish the Maritime provinces would follow Washington’s lead. After repeated failures and foulings of coastal waters by Cooke and other open-water finfish farm operators, it is past time to put a stop to a practice that harms the environment and threatens the livelihood of inshore fishermen. 
    Money buys favour from weak politicians. 
    The Oscars defined the shape of the Hollywood film industry in its adoration of a rehash of the old beauty-and-the-beast theme. They tried bringing it up to date by including a bit of al dente porn, which may explain how “The Shape of Water” made it off the cutting room floor. 
    Speaking of making (and in this case fully deserving) the cut, an organic farm on Prince Edward Island, Heart Beet Organics, was chosen this year to receive the Federation of Agriculture’s annual Gilbert R. Clements environmental award. 
    Dave Stewart of the Charlottetown Guardian (Feb. 3) noted, “The award shows how far the organic industry has come in the last number of years.” 
    Can the rest of Island farming be far behind? Yes, some decades behind. Nonetheless, it can be fun sending up balloons of an idea kind.
    Sending up real balloons, gas-filled, should not be fun. I’m talking about those landing in the ocean where they’re fatally mistaken by turtles and seabirds for something edible. 
    Late last year an elementary school in Nebraska released hundreds of red balloons bearing messages warning about drugs. This was all with the best intention by folks we can suppose never imagined the balloons making it this far east. But many did.
    What is hard to understand is the glee reported in newspapers from people finding balloons here in the Atlantic provinces. “Kinda neat,” and “pretty cool,” were comments heard. Not a word of concern, despite efforts going back years by the Canadian Sea Turtle Network based in Halifax and others warning against releasing balloons.
     Likewise, we’ve been told about the hazards to fish and other wildlife of tossing plastic sandwich and bread bags – and anything else that won’t rot – overboard. Who is listening?
    One day last fall my sister and I gathered a bushel of trash on a nearby beach (most of it plastic) in a very few minutes. A discouraging portion looked fishery-related. Discouraging, because you would think those who make their living from the sea would be the first to get behind bringing trash ashore.
    Not to broad-brush all fishermen, or blame fishermen alone. Too many of us consider trash overboard or out the car window out-of-sight, out-of-mind. It’s not. Only to the litter-creep. (“Bug” is too nice.)
    We use and abuse our resources as if there were no tomorrow. Untapped gas deposits, standing trees, and minerals left underground are not wasted. They are money in the bank for future generations. 

    Never-2-Old events, Wild Wednesday nature walks, birding by ear, chainsaw workshops, and a lot more are planned for the Harrison Lewis Centre come late spring and summer. The birding workshop with ornithologist Sarah Gutowsky is on for the weekend of June 8-10. Please keep an eye on the HLC website (HarrisonLewisCentre.org), Facebook page, and Twitter, as more dates and details come available. DvL