Monday, July 28, 2008

Notes from an endangered ecosystem

Our family cottage is located near a bloated town that seems poised to gobble up every bit of green space left in its path to the lake. People ask why we choose to holiday there, and the only answer left is that we choose to be there because we have been there since long before the town set its beady eyes on the space, and we aren't quite ready to give up multiple generations of family history yet. Sometime in the near future, land bordering ours will be developed with somewhere in the neighbourhood of 1000 homes. Right now, that land is forest and field. The field was once a golf course, but that was before I was born. In my lifetime it has been nothing but a field, full of plants, animals, insects, and all the other things that make up a fragile ecosystem. But that is not the ecosystem I'm talking about today. The one on my mind is a creek that flows through this, and down through our neighboors' properties, and into the lake. It is home to a huge variety of frog, dragonfly, moth, fish, salamander, and plants. It is a fragile place, already seeing the effects of the bloating town. But. It is still a beautiful place.

This morning (I had Monday off because I'm working on Saturday), my mother and I paddled our canoe up the creek as far as we can go before the way become impassible. We spent a little time just watching and enjoying the activity around us, serenaded by bullfrogs and the buzz of various flies. We took some pictures. We watched a truck come barreling down an unused driveway to the north of the creek, before pulling a 3 point-turn into the brush, and zipping back out. We paused on our way back down the creek to fish a discarded bottle out of the water. We were shouted at by some workmen to the south who asked whether we'd caught any fish, and were completely confused when we told them we weren't fishing. "Don't you know how to fish?" they said. "No," we said. "We are taking pictures." An awkward silence followed, before they went back to what they were doing, and we went back to trying to get the canoe to stay still in the breeze long enough to get just the right shot.

The thing about a creek is that, more than a lake, you can see nature in action. Everything is right there, right where you can see it, and hear it, and smell it, and watch it all interacting. It is easier to feel concern about something when you can see the devastation in action. But the whole area is in a state of danger. The lake is so full of pesticide run-off, and other problematic substances that there is massive species die-off happening.

I don't have a solution. Rather, I've been thinking about that creek, and how little time it likely has left, and have been feeling like it needs a little acknowledgment.

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