We walk twice a day; it is one of the things we do, regardless of the weather.
Today there is a storm moving in, the air is dark and restless, trees waving, stopping, waving halfheartedly. A disturbed state of agitated greenery surrounds this place. Grass is on the move; waves race across a field like seawater driven in turmoil.
Here in N.W. Ontario it has been weird; the weather, the feel is one of discomfort somehow. It feels different, perhaps only because last year was much drier, almost to the point of being dangerous. You don't live in the same place for 33 years and not notice change. Something is afoot.
The leaves of poplar trees flip back and forth, trembling in an acrobatic, aerodynamically- choreographed trick of nature designed to assist in cooling and transpiration --or some other tricky biological secret we have not been fully instructed in. In nature there are many things we do not understand. We listen and observe. The leaves chatter.
We walk. The pups sniff ahead. A long, quiet path among balsam fir, poplar, spruce, and white paper birch trees, Trillium, sticky-weed and three colours of violets.
The needles on the balsam fir trees are uncharacteristically orange-brown, the path in places is littered thickly with a curious needle drop previously unknown. Clumps of white paper birch trees, now lifeless, huddling ghosts, die from the top down. White spruce trees are off-colour, slowly browning, dropping needles.
|White Spruce, April 30th 2012: Needles dropped.|
A few stressed, soft green conifer needles have become visible on some trees--but only at the tips of otherwise brown, naked, surreal branches. Something is afoot.
|The same white Spruce June 15, 2012 Note weird needle growth|
On this day the boy, a mere child, explores the trail with us. He discovers a piece of shed birch bark, maroon mosses growing from damp leaves and soil that adhere to the underside of the bark. He turns it over, pinches and feels the soil. He looks up at us.
"The earth is sick" he says.
I have to turn away. I am speechless. How does he know?
The boy is not yet five years old. What am I to think?
What kind of world have we left him? Tears come to my eyes. There are no words possible. We walk.
Is that incoming I hear?