Finally we’re getting our winter storms.
Finally we’re getting some snow to cover the ground.
Snow protects. The blanket of snow insulates bulbs and roots, whether they are crops, trees, domestic flowers or wild plants.
Snow camouflages. It provides shelter to animals like rabbits and hares that turn white with the change of light in winter’s darkness.
Snow hides. Snow provides cover for birds like ruffed grouse, which dive beneath it to sleep and hide from predators.
Snow restores. It replenishes the water table, that underground reservoir we all depend upon. For life.
So, if we don’t have enough snow, every living thing suffers.
But, has our snowy blanket come too late this winter? Many people say yes.
Why? Well, remember a few weeks back I quoted someone as saying that the ground was freezing an inch a day? Because of the depth of frozen ground, some farmers worry that whatever snow we get now will simply run off as it melts.
In other words, spring’s meltwater will run off and not be absorbed into the soil, where it is sorely needed.
Last summer, we endured 10 weeks of wet weather as we toured Western Canada. In that length of time, we only had 5 days without any rain at all. Farmers in Manitoba through Alberta were crying the blues because their fields were soaking wet. They couldn’t even get onto them to plant.
(It’s no wonder at all, in our opinion, that the western farmers are seeking financial aid. We support them and regret that the federal and provincial governments are not assisting them more. After all, farmers produce that other commodity we depend upon for life: food. Go figure: if we continue to kill the family farm, what’s going to become of us all?)
But, back to water. Last summer in West Quebec was a different story, wasn’t it? Many of you have told us of last year’s drought. Those of you who are not farmers just loved the summer of long, hot and dry weather.
Farmers, however, suffered. At least one well on the Steele Line dried up, and we all know what that means. The fact that you cannot do your laundry or have a shower seems relatively insignificant when compared to being unable to water a herd of cattle.
Our well is a deep one, so we didn’t experience any problems at all. But the spring located in the back of our property was drying out. Instead of seeing the usual bubbling water seeping out of the earth, the surface of the spring was merely mucky -- the first time this has happened in 10 years of living here.
We all take water for granted in this country. And we shouldn’t.
You can dismiss global warming if you wish: heaven knows you wouldn’t be alone if that’s what you think.
But I don’t dismiss it. I believe we are witnessing profound changes in our climatic systems and our life on earth that go beyond mere “cycles of odd weather.”
Climate and our comfortable life on earth are intimately wedded. Of course, the “bottom line” is that without clean water, there is no life. And our source of water is precipitation.
Hopefully, this summer will not be a dry one. But then again, we also have to hope it’s not going to be too wet to plant.
Darn. Things are never “easy,” are they? We don’t want to wish a summer like last year’s western wet on us but we desperately need our water table replenished in the Pontiac.
For those of you who don’t have deep wells, perhaps this is something to think about, save for, and have dug.
It might be a good investment.
Katharine Fletcher is a freelance writer based in Quyon. Contact her at 458-2090 or firstname.lastname@example.org