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No Loitering

KELOWNA, March, 2021. — We’d generated a list, so after breakfast we decided we’d leave Midway for Kelowna in the 3/4 ton. We took Highway 33 North from Rock Creek, via Westbridge, then slightly West through Beaverdell and Carmi to the Rock Creek/Kelowna summit. 

As we neared the summit, we saw evidence of the work of crews who have been busy ripping trails into the woods probably for logging but we saw no sign of the cow moose we’d seen before on each of our two previous Winter expeditions. She’d probably been scared off.

  From there we descended quickly, passing the Big White Summit, where so many Covid-19 infections had been identified this past Winter. We continued down through Joe Rich then carrying on down through the Black Mountain area of Kelowna, Rutland and into the commercial junk scape of Kelowna.

Our first stop was the Bottle Depot on Kent Street. We parked the truck in front of one of the NO LOITERING signs on one side of the building and carried the had one very large polyethylene bag packed almost to full capacity.  

Our collection included beverage containers made of glass, polyethylene, aluminum and a vile, industrial sandwich sold as a “Tetra-Pak”, which is made of paperboard, (75%), polyethylene (20%), and aluminum (5%).

Inside, we sorted the containers which for our purposes fell into two main categories:  ‘Clean’  and ‘Absolutely’ filthy.

The ‘clean’ containers were filled with empties that we’d accumulated since December, 2020 and were mainly made of aluminum or glass.  They were pop and beer cans mainly, with a few wine and liquor bottles mixed in.

The ‘absolutely filthy’ containers were also made mainly of aluminum or glass, but also of many made of P.E.T. (polyethylene terephthalate), a synthetic resin. 

The worst of these might include empty beverage containers filled with piss and tossed out the window by truck drivers unwilling to stop, but most were simply pitched from vehicles once they’d been emptied and picked up months later after being covered with a Winter’s worth of road spray and spending the Winter buried in the dirty snow.

 These, over the course of 1 hour I’d picked from ditches and shoulders of the Crowsnest Highway No. 3 a long a distance of no more than 1 kilometre.

I’m very pleased the government of British Columbia has mandated an economy for beverage containers because it gets more of the used materials: glass, aluminum, and plastic to, back into the manufacturing process and out of the litter stream.

An extension of this is it  but also gives me an  excellent incentive to get some fresh-air, sunshine and light exercise at the same time.  

Picking up cans on the side of the highway is a lot like gardening , except the main crop is mainly aluminum, glass and plastic, not fruit and vegetables.

We cashed in our empties and received $20.25 cents. To prevent touching during the plague, the money was passed to us in a grey, polyethylene plastic basket from the dollar-store. It had been extruded in China to resemble a real basket, one hand-made out of woven reeds.

My companion on this trip made a lunge for the money, but I turned quickly to one side.  “Hey!”, I said, “I already bought your Breakfast!  This belongs to me!”  

That’s what I said, and I believed it,  but I didn’t realize until we went outside that it wasn’t actually true. The twenty dollar bill didn’t belong to me, any more than any of the ‘clean’ or ‘absolutely filthy’ beverage containers we’d cashed in ‘belonged’ to me.  

It was only being handled by us until we passed it on to someone else as part of a transaction, hopefully a ‘mutually beneficial exchange of values’. 

In the end, we spontaneously decided and agreed the $20 actually belonged to the very old man loitering near the truck with a sign taped to his walker. The sign read: “I need some money”, as candid, and honest a statement as I’d recently seen. 

I noticed the man had hooked the right rear wheel of his walker around a parking curbstone in the same way I often do when I’m turning left and forget that I’m driving the truck and not my much smaller car. I fail to account for my truck’s long box and forget to drive far enough out into the intersection to clear the invisible ‘pivot-point’, just past the truck’s mid-point. When I start turning right too early, as if I was driving my much shorter car, the left rear-wheel invariably gets caught and climbs the curb, much to the annoyance of my travelling companion.

The old guy looked very frail. I hoped he would realize his walker was hung up on the curbstone and adjust it a bit so that he wouldn’t fall when he tried to move forward.

“No 85 year old guy pushing a walker would make a sign that said ‘I need some money’ unless he was telling the truth’”, said my travelling companion.

I agreed. So we gave the deposit-money to him.

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Thursday, March 18, 2021, (2, XE).

MIDWAY, BC — Why does gardening start so late in central British Columbia?

Maybe it’s because the majority of people around here are doing other things, but there are many other tasks related to gardening that can and perhaps should be done in this liminal space between the melting of the snow and the thawing of the ground.

Driving yesterday to Grand Forks, we noticed that the distractions of eating, drinking, and smoking continue to be promoted in Midway, Anaconda and Greenwood, but farming, and farming’s subset, vegetable gardening, generally, is not.

The countryside is varied but mainly mountainous; it’s beautiful and serene, but the land is poor, resistant to rake and spade. Only certain favoured places are productive: ground where thousands of years fertile silt have been conveniently deposited; ground that receive lots of sunshine that does not escape from mountain-thrown shade until late morning early afternoon, nor is captured by it again by mid-afternoon; ground that receives the careful attention of people who, by intention or temperament, want to be grounded themselves.

Of commercial gardeners there are only a few; and, where backyard gardens were ubiquitous in the years when the Greenwood smelter was going full bore, and later when displaced Japanese Canadians were forced to be here and found through gardening a certain way through their own adversity, gardeners are so few now as to be like as gold nuggets found laying on the ground.

Where’s the last gold nugget you found laying on the ground? Exactly.

But there are a few greenhouses, more than I recall seeing around here thirty years ago. They are either wood frame structures covered with polyethylene, ill-conceived hoop-houses built during fair weather, now shredded or collapsed. A very few are smaller, of the expensive glass and extruded aluminum variety, but all of them share one thing in common: they’re empty or being used as storage sheds for disused or broken junk mainly from the second half of the 20th century.

Maybe some of those unmasked St. Patrick’s Day revellers we saw on the way back from Grand Forks, smoking on the sidewalk outside the Legion hall in Greenwood were also responsible for building a few of those greenhouses we saw.

Back in Midway at 6:30, the three flats of parsley and onion seeds I planted last week are sprouting. Parsley takes a while to germinate, and the onions need a long to grow, but at least they’ve been started, so until tomorrow I’m a bit less behind than I was.

Now I’ve got to get this gardening ball a-rolling and keep it rolling.

I do not have any kind of greenhouse, nor a mule neither, though I do have some ground to put one on, for which I’m grateful. I’m still feeling my way forward trying not to over-think, over-plan, or over-spend. But my sense of the way things are going in this second year of this new era of X-tinction is that it’s time to, ‘Git behind the mule and plough, boy. Git behind the mule and plough’.

It would be a lot easier if the ground wasn’t still frozen.

P.D.S.

pauldavidsteer © 2021. All Rights Reserved.

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The United States, Covid, and gardening in the SPC

Today’s Crowsnest update is not about one topic specifically; it’s about the enormous list of possible subjects there are and the impossibility of writing about them all.

Last week, with civil insurrection surging up the steps and into the corridors of the United States Capitol, I counted my good fortune in not being part of any of that.

Again this week, with the United States Congress taking the unprecedented step of impeaching the current president for a second time, an unrepentant President Trump (despite the words he reads off of teleprompters), continues to encourage his disaffected supporters to turn out en masse, armed, in front of state capitols, in just a few days.

Again, fortunate we are to be here, not there; lucky so far not to have been infected with the Sars 2 Corona Virus, felled by Covid 19, nor to know anyone who has been. Not yet: hopefully not ever.

As observed by Paul Samyn, editor of the Winnipeg Free Press in one of his daily Covid 19 updates a few days ago, all of that can change in an instant,  . . . it can be when you take your chances with this virus, when you let down your guard, when you fool yourself into thinking that meeting down at the pub for a few pints of Guinness is a good way to celebrate Christmas. [emphasis mine]

Mr. Samyn was talking about Ireland, which had the lowest coronavirus infection rate in the European Union in early December, but has the world’s highest rate now.  His point: It could just as easily happen, right in his city, Winnipeg, but just as easily your country, town, village or family, no matter where you reside: it could even happen to you!  

* * * *

Last week’s blogpost caught the attention of two people, both gardeners, one of whom became a subscriber.  Thank you for your responses!

* * * *

Fortunately, gardening is on my seemingly endless list of topics to write about in this space, so while I wait for the 2019-2020 garden report to be written, a continuing theme will be our #sustainability garden, where it was, is now, and where we hope to see it going in 2021.  Has there ever been a better time than now to ‘get growing’?

A question for the ‘armchair’ or ‘active’ gardeners reading this:  “What books/seed catalogues/other printed gardening resources are you making the most use of right now?  Feel free to reply in the comments section; there’s lots of room for as long or short a comment you’d like to make!

For a nominal US$5.00 fee, I downloaded and printed a copy of the 2021 garden planner distributed by the U.S. National Gardening Association website. https://garden.org/store/view/8/2021-Download-and-Print-Planner-and-Organizer/

The Planner/organizer offers templates and pages for each of the 12 months and 52 weeks the gardening year.  I don’t think this was a mistake, but here near the end of “Week 2” I realize I’m already behind schedule. 

Among my many other gardening mistakes so far, since committing to the resurgence of the sustainability garden in 2018, was my failure yesterday to take advantage of the unseasonably warm, +7 degree (celsius) outdoor temperatures.  I should have headed over to the Super Paul Compound (SPC) to dig more Winter Carrots and Rutabaga, but I did not.  Last night the mercury dropped back to -7 degrees, making digging today more difficult, maybe impossible.

Something else.  One garden-related task I will  commit to this do this week and one that is worthy of week 2 of the gardening year, especially when the ground is still covered with snow,  is to to a walk-around, both inside and outside the compound, to make note of the current situation, the lay of the land.  I could easily do it from my desk, but I know that the best motivation for the would-be gardeners comes from their feet. 

* * * *

Besides U.S. politics, the pandemic, and the garden, there’s always the easy default subjects of weather and traffic to write about, but since urban market morning TV seems to have a lock on those, I’ll probably weigh-in on those topics as a last resort.  

I’ve jotted down a fair list of possible subjects, all worthy of treatment here:  Health & Wellness; books; healthful cookery; cooperatives; obesity; acoustic music; consumerism; and Delza are all subjects I know some of the people who have read my stuff seem to be interested in.  And there are many other subjects I haven’t mentioned, enough to keep me busy for a long time.

So, leave a comment, share, subscribe, especially if you have constructive criticism, advice or other support to offer.

As for me, I’m still trying to figure things out as I go, so please forgive me if there are a few glitches along the way

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Better here than there

I could’ve written something about the SARS-2 Corona Virus when the global pandemic was declared by the World Health Organization on March 11, 2020, but I didn’t until today, 302 days later, after Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus called for countries to, “. . . take urgent and aggressive action . . . the agency has rung the alarm bell loud and clear.”

At the time, my impression was the WHO had taken their time in declaring the pandemic. I had been following news of the Sars 2 Corona Virus since late January, but at the time I didn’t write anything down about it, apart from a letter I sent to some people I care about. I was busy doing other things, among them thinking about what I would be planting in my new sustainability garden. Looking back through the pages of my 2020 garden diary I’ve only found two references to Covid-19: one on March 13th, and the other on the 15th:

2020.March.13.,  “ > 110 000 cases of Covid-19 worldwide.” And this:

“Where is the data that confirms a 5 day incubation period?”

While 110 000 Covid-19 cases worldwide sounded huge then, the number has only taken off from there, There are now well over 87 and a half million cases worldwide and the total number cases is still increasing.

There was nothing else written in my diary to suggest I’d ever found the answer to my question about the 5 day incubation period, but judging from the quarantine restrictions imposed by most, perhaps all government jurisdictions in Canada and internationally, 14 days has apparently been settled on as the number of elapsed days necessary to ensure that anyone arriving in Canada from somewhere else is non-infective with Covid-19. 

Looking back hoping for further references to the pandemic in my garden diary proved futile; this was my 2020 garden diary after all, and I’m a legend in my own mind for wanting to keep the ‘main thing’, the main thing.  At least there’ll be lots of primary-source information to include in my year end garden report — if I ever manage to write it.

But there are so many other things I could write about besides gardening. Covid-19 obviously, politics, books, ideas, journalism, even the weather, my ideas about acoustic music: the problem for me is not so much what to write about but where to begin.

A few weeks ago, on my Facebook page, a platform I’d like to get away from, I invited people who respond to a post by indicating a single word or phrase they associated with when where or how they became associated with me. I was astonished that over 50 people responded and many others who’s opinions I also value, choosing not to.

I started thinking about the larger group, those who had replied to my silly question immediately along with those who had not probably comprised my audience. A few days later, I realized that should I ever jump into the deep-end of the social media pool and commit to generating steady content for a self-published blog, it would probably be this larger group of people that I’d probably be writing for.

After the middle of July, 2020 the number of entries in my garden diary dropped off to zero.  It wasn’t because I had stopped gardening, it was because I had stopped writing about it. I’d become so busy actually working the garden that I didn’t bother to write things down anymore. Looking back, this was disappointing to me because keeping things going and bringing them to completion is also something I value.

Being really new at this, I believe have no choice but to take small steps, but I don’t think I would be wasting my time if I encourage you to leave a comment, letting me know your thoughts, and suggesting what might make this blog one that you might keep returning to. In a genuine sense, I’m working for you; my only payment so far is your interest, as reflected in your comments and other feedback. whether or not this website is something I can think about later.

If the surprises of 2020 have been any indication, I think there’ll be lots up for discussion in the weeks to come; 2021 shows no indication of being any less astonishing than 2020, as the events in Washington, D.C. yesterday would confirm.

So don’t be shy about leaving a comment, giving me honest feedback, suggesting the topics you find most compelling, as well as those that do not.

One more thing. I haven’t determined a regular schedule for posts here, but I’m thinking that once per week might be enough for me to commit to; twice per week would mean the blog would become a job; more than twice per week would end up being an annoyance.

Feel free to subscribe, share, comment and to provide me with any feedback that you’d like.

[N.B.  While writing this blog entry, my TV was off, and when I was finished I went for a two hour hike up along the Big Chungus River Loop.  It wasn’t until later I heard about the bad craziness going down in and around the U.S. Capitol building which resulted in the death of a woman who was fatally shot in the neck while trying to climb into the Chamber of Congress through a broken window.  I’m glad I wasn’t there.]

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It’s a really good time to hunker down

For the past eight months or so, people living outside of British Columbia’s largest city have been less directly affected by the SARS 2 Corona Virus pandemic and its signature disease, COVID-19.

For people living in smaller cities, towns, and villages pandemic news has focussed mainly on events happening somewhere else, over the hill and far away. 

In the minds of many British Columbians, the SARS-2 Corona Virus pandemic exists as an abstraction if it exists at all.

Even now, as rates of infection and subsequent deaths rise, there are still a majority of British Columbians who remain completely untouched by COVID-19. For them, including everyone in this household, the global pandemic has seemed unreal: not totally fake, but not completely genuine either.

I’m not surprised by this.  After all, early last Spring British Columbia’s citizens responded well to admonitions from government and public health agencies to “flatten the curve”. Citizens in rural BC, places without any confirmed cases of COVID-19, accepted and mainly supported such unprecedented measures as complete closures of schools, health care facilities, and many businesses.

As a consequence, what was initially seen as a relentless upward curve of deaths as the result of COVID-19 was flattened.  

Summer arrived, the crisis eased, and things started moving back to ‘normal’.

The curve was being flattened but COVID-19 wasn’t being rubbed out. Toward the middle of July, steadily, relentlessly, COVID-19 infections started to climb again. Infections are increasing daily.

Now, well into the Fall, we hear reports of increasing numbers of infections, followed inevitably by rising numbers of fatalities days and weeks later.  The main question now is whether or not today’s number of reported new cases is once again higher than yesterday’s number.

Despite these worrisome facts, a majority of people in British Columbia still have not been directly or indirectly harmed by COVID-19, only inconvenienced.

The death toll continues to rise, but unless we or a family member is working in one of the so-called ‘front-line’ jobs, the majority of Canadians still have no first-hand proof of the pandemic, only secondary evidence, relentless media reports delivered via the internet — the same medium as cat videos, click-bait and celebrity gossip— a medium that consumers find easy to dismiss.

How many people will have to die of or with COVID-19 before Canadians change their own behaviour in a way that flattens the curve indefinitely?

The Washington-based Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation suggests that number is trending upward. 

Their graphic models estimate and average daily COVID-19 death rate of 2 per day on November 16th will double to 4 per day by the middle of December, and double again to 8 per day by years’ end, a four-fold increase in daily COVID-19 deaths over the next 6 weeks.

For the BC families who lose a beloved great grandparent, parent, sibling, spouse or child over the course of the upcoming holiday period, that’ll be one hell of a Christmas present, one that no one would ever wish to give or to receive.

But remember: a projection is only a statistical guess: it’s a long boney finger pointing toward an unknown unknowable future; it’s by no means predictive.

There’s a lot that individual British Columbians can do to effect different and better outcomes.

These same projections suggest that by the middle of February, 2021, death rates will begin to moderate and possibly decline, but this too will only be achieved as the result of widespread willingness of citizens to abide by hygiene, mask-wearing and social distancing protocols.  It could just as easily go in the opposite direction if people are careless.  

What better time than now to do everything they can as individuals to 1) keep themselves healthy and avoid infection, and 2) do everything they can to limit the spread of the virus now and well into 2021.

It would be a good thing for everyone to hunker down and stay put — right through the end of the year and into 2021. Doing so just might save a life, maybe your own.

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Snowed Under

   A few days ago it was early Fall and I was thinking about the many small and larger jobs to do within the deer-fenced perimeter of my garden across the street. 

Then, day before yesterday, I noticed early morning temperatures had dropped by about 5 degrees Celsius and snow was forecast.  06:30 on October 23rd, it started to snow.  And snow. And snow some more.

It snowed all day, breaking previous 1899 record for snowfall, leaving about a foot of perfect powder.  

Looking at the calendar it’s assuredly still Fall, but a glance outside suggests that it’s already Winter.

Now, everything needing to be done in the garden still needs to be done, except now all those jobs are buried underneath a foot or more of nice, fluffy snow.

Damn!  What is it that causes me to put off necessary work, to give in to the inertia, yield to the ‘lazy’ gene instead of getting important things like digging root and green leafy vegetables and bringing them indoors where they might do some good?

I’m going to explore the question posed by my garden; it has become increasingly obvious to me that I’ve not done what I should have done these past several weeks; it has been my own failure to pay proper attention to ‘the work’ needing to be done — not just in the garden — in other areas of life as well!

There’s no practical choice for me now except to pick up a few tools and start clearing away the snow. Denial is futile, and probably fatal.