From Loon Lake Road – Birds and other residents on the move south

Barbara Hendricks' monthly column of community news and events in Loon Lake.

The end of September has given Loon Lake Road gorgeous colours in trees and shrubs and a drive up the road to the lake is right up there with the best scenery around in an area full of spectacular scenery.

And yet, residents on legs, wings and wheels are leaving us for other climates. I wonder why? Last week reports of pelicans sighted on Loon Lake also indicated that life was on the move and getting ready for change. Some mornings the air and sky are filled with the calls from the long vee formations of Sandhill cranes as they head south.

The sound of the cranes got me thinking about just how much I enjoy being able to hear the sounds of nature. A city friend recently suggested that I get a satellite radio, as radio reception is limited here except at night, and a satellite radio would provide “background noise” while I went about my work he explained.

I was amazed that anyone would suggest such a thing, and then I remembered that the sounds in cities aren’t always ones that are pleasant. Here, however the sounds usually tell something about what is happening in the outdoors – the “cronk” of the raven, the sound of the wind up on the plateau, the demands from the Steller’s Jays for me to fill up their seed feeder, the cat telling me to open the door, and all the various voices of nature from the bark of the blue heron to the song of the sparrow and the sound of the downbeat of the wings of the bald eagles as they fly low overhead.  Now in hunting season the sound of rifle shots is disturbing at times, particularly if they are close by.

But all of these sounds orient me and tell me what is happening around me while my eyes are occupied with other things. If we don’t use our sense of hearing for orientation and information about our surroundings then we are not really using that sense to its fullest. People wearing headphones or ear buds out in public put themselves at risk from traffic, and even other people, because they cannot hear what is happening around them. Most people were born with the ability to hear and it is a shame that in cities people have become so selective about what they hear and tune out most sounds.

One Loon Lake summer resident recently came by and she was very tired and on edge. She said she had not been able to sleep for some days as she had no more books downloaded that she could listen to when she went to bed.

Something had gone wrong with her ability to download from the library and not having cell phone coverage here made everything more difficult. She told me she cannot fall asleep unless she can plug in to a book being read on some device.

I offered her a real 3D book, but that wouldn’t do – she needed to have it being read to her. So we suggested her husband read to her but that wouldn’t work as he usually fell asleep at the first page. Finally another neighbour came to her rescue with some CDs and they dug out an old CD player.

Have we all or at least some us become so reliant on electronic devices that our health is affected if we cannot access them? Is this what is called addiction? Will Loon Lake Road, without connections to all these electronic devices, become a place where no one wants to live? Perhaps some people who are otherwise oriented will choose to live here for that very reason.

Summer gardening and growing food outdoors is just about at an end. Serious frost has stopped the growth of most things except kale, chard and leeks. It is time to do some cleaning up, making compost and mulching. I am reading more good things about deep mulching as a means of improving the health of the soil in the garden and therefore treasure every fallen leaf and pine needle.

Speaking of pines, I have noted another little change in the way we talk about nature locally.

When I grew up here we learned to identify the trees and their cones. There were the spruce, Douglas fir, fir, Ponderosa pine and Jack pine. And when we talked about a cone we would name the species of cone, that is a spruce cone, for example. Now I notice most people, even ones who should know better, refer to all cones as “pine” cones, even the ones that come off the spruce trees.

I have seen that Martha Stewart and craft shops do that but then they are city folks and don’t know any better, but here in the Cariboo are we really dumbing down about nature as well?

Thanksgiving is coming up and time to cook up the baby pumpkins I managed to grow this year so I can make a baby pumpkin pie. It looks like it was a great year for large pumpkins but I am thankful to be able to grow the small sugar pie pumpkins as they have a better flavour for pie fillings.

I wish everyone a good Thanksgiving and hope they have many things for which they are thankful. I know I have – beyond a good harvest there is the richness of good health, family and good friends.

Barbara Hendricks