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Friday, July 20, 2012

Upsets and natural disasters

It was August 2003 and I was en route home to Canada from Taiwan for a visit. I made it as far as Los Angeles when the entire Eastern Seaboard lost power, and they cancelled my flight home to Ontario. I hadn’t seen my family in months and I was desperate to get home. But truth be told, L.A. is not the worst place in the world to be stranded.

Some people chose to sleep in the airport, waiting for the moment when planes would be rescheduled and put back in the air. My airline put me in a Mexican hacienda-style hotel for the night. I was quite comfortable. The hotel was hosting a West Coast Swing choreographers’ convention and I got to watch professional dancers all night. And the food was fantastic. Not bad at all. No complaints from me.

The next morning at the airport, I recognized Canadian singer-songwriter Chantal Kreviazuk and her hubby Raine Maida sitting on their suitcases, hoodie-hoods up, sipping coffee, just like everyone else. One dweeb businessman was loudly proclaiming to the check-in clerk that he was “never going to fly Air Canada again” as if the airline was all-powerful, able to snuff the power from all points along the east

coast of the continent at once.

When it was my turn at the front of the line, I gave the young clerk a big smile – because I really was enjoying myself, just people-watching and sipping my free coffee. He looked me in the eye for a moment, then said, “Lady, you’re the first one with a smile all morning. How would you like to fly to Ontario first class?” Well, that would be just lovely, I said.

I have never really suffered a true disaster of the natural – or simply inconvenient – kind. During the Ice Storm of 1998 (which deserves capitals, you know), I lived in Barrhaven. The only thing that happened at our house is that I had to put cleats on my boots for running my pre-dawn paper route. That and the cable went out. Very annoying. My parents in Kemptville, on the other hand, were without power for 21 days.

So now we have a dry spell. The Rideau Valley Conservation Authority has declared a “Level 2” drought status. We are being asked to reduce our water consumption by 20%. No washing the car, no watering the lawn, no non-essential water usage. If the drought continues and the status moves up to Level 3, those water restrictions become mandatory.

As I write this on Saturday the 14th, the grass on our pasture has not replenished itself in the past few weeks. We had to open the gates to the cow pasture to give our sheep some more foraging choices. Hopefully the grass grows back before we run out of acreage.

The Farmer took a good look at the sheep this morning. They seem to be keeping their weight on, so they must have found something to eat. Their fleece doesn’t seem to be growing back after their last shearing, however. I guess they are adapting to the heat. Normally the fleece grows back after the spring shearing just in time to protect the sheep from the mosquitoes but there doesn’t seem to be many of them either. It has been too dry for them to breed.

I noticed one local farmer had his sweet corn for sale already. It seems a bit early. Hopefully that doesn’t mean they have lost their crops. I think we would need a few more weeks of dry spell before that would happen. The corn growing at the back of our property still looks good. But when you drive down the road you see some crops that are beginning to yellow from the bottom up, and their stalks look a bit wilty.

I hope by the time you are reading this, it will have rained. And I hope it isn’t 35 degrees on my daughter’s wedding day, which is the 21st.

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