Pick of the crop
Raspberries! Fresh raspberries on granola, fresh raspberry pie, fresh raspberries on a leafy green salad, and a bowl of fresh raspberries with light cream and a sprinkling of brown sugar before hitting the sack.
Lord, I’m tiring of fresh raspberries. Fortunately, there are red currants, huckleberries, and blueberries to break the awful monotony. Soon there will be blackberries. I think we will make it through.
Last year, raspberries were few, a porcupine having had his way with the canes the fall before. The devastation was noticed only after it was too late to do anything about it. This season we are making up for the loss. There was no porcupine raid last fall, and this summer insufficient rain has kept the problem of rust at bay.
In spite of relative droughty conditions here on the shore, there have been short bouts of rain – just enough to bring on chanterelles. These golden beauties are one of the few wild mushrooms that are not only edible (and delicious) but found in obvious chanterelle groves – unlike dusky, edible boletes, which are not so obvious and are generally scattered wide over the forest floor. Chanterelles pop up all of a sudden like . . . well, mushrooms. Seemingly overnight. Give them three or four days, though, and their colour fades, they wither, and are gone.
That is, the ones not harvested for amazing dishes like Thom Drew’s chanterelle omelette with goat cheese.
Mention of gold brings to mind a sad story in the Nova Scotia news last week, which is the three weeks given for public comment about a proposal for a 500-acre open-pit gold mine in the middle of the Liscomb Game Sanctuary. It is called the Fifteen Mile Stream Gold Project. Amazing. While the world goes nuts over right-wing extractionists, those left of centre are given relative carte blanche to do as they will with raw resources that belong to us all; gold and tar sands come quickly to mind, while (in this province) those who would frack for gas are only waiting another turn at the trough.
Really, though, it takes the cake to set aside a tract of Crown land, call it a sanctuary, and then open the door to clearcutting, which already is done in the Liscomb Sanctuary, and perhaps now open-pit gold mining.
(Until Aug. 20, public comment may be addressed to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency: CEAA.FifteenMile.ACEE@ceaa-acee.gc.ca.)
The drive to rip and tear the earth apart to satisfy an insatiable greed makes climate change seem like a relative ho-hum concern. There is poverty in the midst of plenty, true enough. Other relentless problems as well: degradation of the environment; loss of faith in institutions; uncontrolled urban spread; insecurity of employment; alienation of youth; rejection of traditional values; and inflation and other monetary and economic disruptions.
Welcome to the 21st century? Could well be, but it is not. This dire list is not mine, nor is it new. It is half a century old, lifted from the forward to “The Limits to Growth,” a report on the Club of Rome’s “Project on The Predicament of Mankind.” Doesn’t sound like much has changed. We only added climate change, largely unseating pollution in a game of environmental-degradation musical chairs.
Fifteen years later, the UN published its own dire warning about unbridled growth: the Gro Harlem Brundtland Commission’s Our Common Future. Lots of people read this best-seller, and millions more latched onto “sustainable development” as the answer to all of our problems – until the term has become meaningless.
Case in point, our mining industry, which defines “sustainable development” as finding new ore deposits (like gold) in time to replace ones played out.
Talk about limits to growth is no more than flapping gums. Guestimates of population growth and limits by the UN and other agencies are interesting, but to what end? “Trouble with people is the only thing they’re good for is making more people.”
Suggest that population growth is a greater threat to the earth than climate change, and conversation comes to a screeching halt. Suggest that China’s one-child policy – influenced by the Club of Rome’s work – might have had anything to do with that country’s surge to economic prominence, and be ready to duck the controversy ready to crash upon your head like a piñata full of hornets.
My heroes are those who have conscientiously cut back, who consume less, and generally strive to shrink their impact on the earth – all the while maintaining a sense of humour and humility. They are a rare breed. To the extent that they – any of us, for that matter – look after themselves and avoid paid labour, they are viewed as anti-social revolutionaries for not paying their fair share of dues to the Canadian Revenue Agency, which wants all of us in what it considers a legitimate “work force.” There should be a magazine devoted to profiling these fine people. Let’s see. Who’ll pay to advertise in it?
Ruby-throated hummingbirds dart about the feeder. Their games of chase and scare never cease; sugar hits. Given all their aerial antics, it is a wonder they are able to build up reserves for their soon-to-begin trips south. Yesterday the feeder was empty at one point. I was alerted to the fact by one of the hummers. It flew at the window, fluttered, and dipped away into the shade of the ash. I am sure this was with the intention of saying, “Hey, get with it . . . We’re out of food!” It worked.
It’s now time to pick another berry. Happy harvesting. DvL