The Ganaraska savannah is still dry when we headed toward mid-summer. A little bit of rain fell in late July but not enough to put an end to my constant watering.
I have been filling and refilling large plastic olive barrels with water pumped from the creek to water the vegetable garden. I have never been more grateful for the nearness of Baxter Creek than this dry year.
I was very fortunate recently to leave the homestead in capable hands (thank you Shawn and Crystal) and travel north to the Bruce Peninsula. Sometimes I forget how beautiful so much of Southern Ontario is and it’s good to have a reminder.
Some of my trip was like travelling back in time. There are still a lot of big graceful elm trees in the Bruce and it reminded me of what the countryside used to look like here. I drove through the wind turbines at Shelburne; a surreal sight to be sure. Many subdivisions of monster houses have popped up along my route in the last few years. Definitely not the little boxes that Pete Seeger sang about but very large boxes. And I was appalled to see a new gated community in Ballantrae. I can’t imagine anyone feeling that unsafe in rural Ontario. Am I old enough to say “What is the world coming to?”
The purpose of my visit to the Bruce was the dedication of 40 acres of land donated by my family to the Escarpment Biosphere Conservancy. The EBC’s purpose is to create nature reserves allowing for sustainable, low impact recreation. There will be a hiking trail built on this land at some point and it will be protected for the future. Orchids and other rare plants are common in the Bruce. In the spring, yellow ladyslippers are common and even grow out of the gravel on the sides of the road. I noticed that there is a huge new UNESCO sign in Wiarton. The Niagara Escarpment is one of thirteen UNESCO World Biosphere Reserves in Canada.
I’m not sure I appreciated the significance of the rare plants and the beauty of the Escarpment when I spent time there as a child. We hiked on the Bruce Trail often every summer. I have so many memories of the spectacular views along the Escarpment south of Tobermory.
The Bruce Trail was founded in 1960 and its route traverses public land and the land of 960 private landowners. I am very thankful to all those landowners who have shared their piece of this priceless part of Ontario with all of us.
My parents, Harry and Claire Williams were both high school science teachers in this community. They taught me not to take nature and natural areas for granted. I am happy that I was able to be part of preserving a small part of the Bruce in their memory.
A change of scene, even for a few days is a wonderful thing. I was able to forget about the marauding chipmunks and the drought for a short time.
One last thing I would like to note is the recent death of Leonard Lee of Lee Valley Tools fame. I can hardly remember a time when there was no Lee Valley catalogue. Good bye to you Mr. Lee and thanks for all the tools and other useful things.
By Jill Williams