Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Autumn Leaves, Roadside Anthropology

So I did indeed command Lee Valley Tools to deliver a critter cam to Old Route 5. It has been in place more than a week, at a trailside spot well tracked by deer, coyote and bobcat. Alas the only images we have to date are of the two-footed creatures checking on what’s been captured on camera.

Meanwhile, as autumn leaves begin to drop bird migration is in full swing. Small waves of warblers and sparrows drop by en route to Central America. Loud honking marks the southbound passage of Canada geese. Signature wing-whistles betray the morning presence of surf scoters on the Great Bras d’Or. A big, handsome northern goshawk – a good bird for these parts – flew across our bow and may have been the culprit responsible for the scattering of grouse feathers spotted on the trail the next morning.

We paid a visit to Marble Mountain, cherished in my memory for long-ago days spent there with great-uncle Harrison. Now it is summer home to Harrison’s son Dan and daughter-in-law Pat. We enjoyed lively conversation, wrung our hands at the hard-to-believe prospect of a Romney-Ryan White House, shared memories of loved ones long departed. Jan appreciated an excellent haul harvested from Harrison’s old crab-apple, destined for conversion by her hand to jars of premium jelly.

The Mahone Baysians – John, Naomi, Hannah and Sara – bestowed their companionship over the Labour Day weekend. We flew kites, blasted away on the apple cannon, enjoyed a swim and cookout at Bob’s beach, played countless games of Uno. Sara turned seven on Saturday and profited handsomely from the occasion.

A small anthropology project proved illuminating. Since our June arrival we have seen a steady increase in the volume of litter gracing the two- or three-hundred-metre stretch of roadside between my road and Bob Nagel’s back lane. What’s to be learned about the preferences of the good folks who throw their trash out the car window as they drive along our bit of countryside? I decided to find out. I gathered the refuse in a large garbage bag, then spread it out to examine the proceeds. ‘Seems our local litterbugs like to drink and smoke and dine at Tim Horton’s and Robin’s doughnut emporia; they prefer chocolate milk to the unaltered variety and are prosperous enough to include perfectly good clothing in the roadside jetsam.

I counted 21 booze containers. Budweiser was the beer of choice; Iceberg vodka and Bacardi rum were also favoured. There were even bits of the kitchen sink – drain and strainer – among the debris. For a few hours – or was it only minutes? – the roadside looked fairly pristine but by next morning fresh contributions – a pint rum bottle and can of Coors Light – decorated the road shoulder. It makes a fella swell with pride to reside in such a civil neighbourhood.

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