From Loon Lake Road – UN highlights the need for soil conservation

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

“And I hope you have a most awesome day.” This was the closing remark from a young man going door to door to promote some special interest and who was thanked and told I had other interests. His comment led me to think just what would be a “most awesome day” and did I really want to have such a day. At Loon Lake Road the days are quite predictable and generally are good days – good health, good company, good food and good access to nature and fresh air. I still like the old fashioned “good day” as a greeting or a farewell and have always felt uncomfortable with the current overuse of the word “awesome”. It seems that the word is used when nothing is inspiring awe and where “okay” used to be the usual reply.

Why search for words to state clearly what you really mean when one word can cover every possibility?

A recent conversation with a six year old recently: Me “Please come to the table, breakfast is ready”. The six year old replies: “Awesome”!

I think young children should be experimental with the language (and learn several). I always smile to myself at the sight of a young child experimenting with using long words like “awesome”, “apparently” and “incidentally”, as our house six year old does. I am concerned however about reinforcing the concept in young learners that one word can be used to fit all occasions rather than building up a wider vocabulary of more precise words that fit different occasions and different ideas.

Some years ago I worked with a number of people (adults) who were from England or travelled frequently to the UK. They had the very noticeable habit of responding to everything with the word “smashing.” After several years the word changed to “brilliant”. Even an announcement at the airport that our plane was now boarding and we should go to the gate was met with the expression “smashing!”  I should hope not. The need to use or misuse words to show that you know the latest street talk may be useful in some groups as a way of showing you are knowledgeable of the latest trends but I do not like it.


March month has been a good month at Loon Lake Road in terms of weather conditions; it was not however smashing, brilliant or awesome. The lake was ice free earlier than usual and work has begun replacing docks and putting boats back in the water as well as the usual spring repairs, boat motor maintenance and so forth.

Easter weekend saw many homeowners return and take on the first winter clean up. Several winter storms of ice and heavy snow brought down a lot of branches over the winter so most homeowners are dealing with a larger amount of yard rakings and trimmings this year.  In the garden I have resisted pulling off the mulch from the more tender plants but on sunny days it has been so tempting to do so, and then with the beginning of April along comes strong winds, a snow storm and temperatures down to -5. Yes, spring still can have a bite of winter in it at Loon Lake in March.


The United Nations has declared 2015 to be the Year of the Soils and it is good timing in my opinion. We have a tendency to mistreat the ground and soil is considered “dirty” and unpleasant. Amateur gardeners abuse their soils by leaving them uncovered and open to erosion over the winter and then looking for a quick fix by buying “topsoil”. In hillside areas like Loon Lake Road it can take years of care and nurturing to build up good growing soil and all the micro-organisms that live there. The UN states that 33 per cent of the world’s soil has been degraded by erosion and pollution, among other pressures.  This is of concern to all of us, because the soil in which most of our food is grown is a non-renewable resource.

Here at Loon Lake we have the added challenge of gardening in a soil base originating from basalt and volcanic rock with a relatively high pH, meaning we have to take care with what plants we can grow as some simply will not thrive if they don’t have acidic soil. I often smile at summer homeowners who bring up azaleas, rhododendrons and other acid soil loving plants from the Fraser Valley and plant them in their yards here,  hoping they will be just as lovely here as they are at their winter home. These poor plants make good deer food anyway. This is all another good argument for planting native plants or their cultivars and using what grows locally as a guide to what to plant.

And then there is the job of picking rocks. True, each rock is potential soil in some thousands of years, but they do get in the way of growing straight carrots.

Every year I am convinced the earth sends more rocks up into the surface growing layer from below. I often say the best thing I can grow are rocks as, after nearly 50 years of cultivation of the garden area, and a high pile of rocks to testify to previous rock removal, there are still several wheelbarrows of large rocks to be taken out each year.

I now avoid rototilling the planting beds every year; instead I do a light forking or digging where the soil has been compressed and avoid walking on the planting areas. I think the soil has responded happily. I like to think if we take care of the earth it can take care of us.

Barbara Hendricks