Summer at Loon Lake means free range kids – at least to me.
Some of the youngest generation have been visiting for the last several weeks. They are city kids most of the year and it shows. At ages 8 and 10 they were afraid to go 100 meters from the house without being accompanied by an adult the first days; the noise of the wind up on the top of the plateau scared them as did any rustling in the bushes. They couldn’t tell a carrot plant from a potato plant.
In general, city children of today feel so very vulnerable and see unknown nature as threatening and full of “scary” creatures; their parents always warn them about dangers out “there”. This is bad news for the natural environment; if the next generations do not learn to love nature they will not make any effort to preserve it. Our rural landscape is full of interesting plants and wildlife, with very little that would be a threat to a child.
When I and my brothers and sister grew up here there was more wildlife, yet in all the years we wandered far and wide we were never in real danger. Sometimes we were frightened by an unrecognizable sound – which usually turned out to be one tree leaning on another ands groaning when the wind moved them.
At the end of 10 days at Loon Lake they had learned to dig up potatoes and garlic, collect dill to make dill pickles, harvest zucchini and identify more vegetables. They chopped melons and cucumbers with sharp kitchen knives and were generally helpful participants in the daily work of the household. They discovered leeks and that they liked to eat them and that leeks, onions and garlic were in the same “family” of plants. The idea of plant families amused them but they quickly picked it up and began suggesting family similarities between the plants. They soon became more willing to venture farther away by themselves and discovered that the rustling in the bushes was just a chipmunk eating berries. By the last day when their parents picked them up they were ready to lead their Dad off into the woods across the creek to show him a cave.
One concern I have with city children let loose in rural countryside is their interaction with wildlife – they are either terrified of it or they want to pick it up and hug it. It took several days of reminding the children that they should not run full tilt at a wild animal if they wanted to see it a bit closer. Instead, they learned to be calm and advance quietly and slowly and keep their distance. Will they remember next year? I doubt it. Learning like this requires reinforcement so that it becomes habitual – two weeks once a year just doesn’t do it, but it is better than nothing.
Water levels in Loon Lake are still high and remain a concern to property owners with lakefront homes. Several residents have been playing telephone tag with a gamut of government departments trying to find someone who would do something – water stewardship, fisheries, environment and wildlife all passed on the problem and suggested we contact someone else. The TNRD could do nothing about it, not even to make some phone calls.
The problem is one or more beaver dams at the mouth of the lake and it is up to the adjacent landowner to deal with the beavers and the government. The first thing the landowner must do is find out about all the rules and regulations and then get a bunch of permits – permits to have a licensed trapper come in and trap the beavers, and then apply to Front Counter BC for permits to remove the dam and so on. The property in this case is under the jurisdiction of the Bonaparte Indian Band, and administrative staff of the band has informed that they have applied for the necessary permits and they will undertake to remove the beavers and the dams this fall once they have all the paperwork in place. This is good news and many thanks to members of the Bonaparte Indian Band.
Once this is done homeowners along the lake “can apply for permission to repair the damage” I am told by one government official. They certainly have a fascination with permits, these bureacrats. Perhaps if not so much time and energy went into dealing with permits, the staff of the responsible departments could get out on the land and find out what is actually happening with water levels and wildlife.
September always means new beginnings as well as saying goodbye to summer. There is anticipation and excitement in starting a new activity, and returning to old ones as well.
Out here on the land, September means finding socks again, getting the winter firewood split and stacked, winterizing irrigation systems and of course for many vacation home owners it is the time to start preparing for leaving Loon lake and shutting up their homes for another season. Resorts close up for the winter and repairs and plans for the next season get underway.
September also means bringing the cattle off the range and the start of hunting season accompanied by the sound of heavy and light rifle shots. These sounds terrify my cats and they go running for cover. At least bow hunting is quieter. Somehow it seems those bucks that have been happy chewing up my plants know when hunting season starts and they will now move to quieter pastures out of easy driving range of the city hunters who drive up and down the roads looking for game.
In the garden, fall season means harvesting and taking up many of those plants that were so carefully planted back in May. The compost pile gets well fed and I am always amazed at the volume of vegetation that one little seed in the soil can produce in five months.
This year I plan to do more fall planting as my experiment with planting spinach in October resulted in a good early harvest of spinach this spring. Garlic needs to be planted soon and young strawberry plants moved out. I have had good success with leaving radicchio roots, chard roots, and kale in the ground over the winter and then to harvest fresh growth the following spring, followed by the seeds later in the summer.