Sunday, January 13, 2008

Au Naturelle

Hey Folks,

Some pre-explanation before the actual assignment. Professor Bantjes, feel free to scroll down from this part to where I start my actual assignment, marked with a red underline.

So, on to explanation. As it turns out, technology and class have collided in an environmental course of all things. Indeed, by using the internet we are technically saving paper (unless we print) and thus very much helping the environment.

In this way, Keckventure (as I have renamed it) is becoming a journal of sorts, cataloguing personal experiences with nature, while developing new ideas about the natural world and our human connection to this. My regular readers will know that I already hold deep concern for this, with the rights of animals and the way in which people are not connected with food. Our food connection and our nature connection are closely linked in my mind, and so this next journey that I'll be cataloging should be enlightening for all.


My Experience with Nature

My earliest memories when it comes to nature are intertwined with fishing. Whether in the summer, onshore or in a boat, or in the winter through a hole in the ice, I can remember getting up early, getting my gear together and heading out to the lake or stream.

Fishing connects me with my father, was a conduit for the continuing
friendship with one of my oldest friends, and was and is just plain fun. My parents divorced at an early age and fishing was really a time where my dad and I could just sit out, be alone and have some proper father-son bonding. There's really nothing quite like relaxing in a 10-foot aluminum boat, drifting with the bobbing waves of a remote Northern Ontario Lake. If it's a very calm day, you can hear the machinery of the mine's underneath East Bull Lake.

It was up here that I learned how to properly cast an open-faced reel, how to portage, and how to clean a fish. I am now a vegetarian, but it was in this time t
hat my first feelings for animals developed. An appreciation for the animal that had given its life to be our food. There is more of a connection when you catch the animal that will become dinner, a respect even.

Moreover, Northern Ontario is still one of the most beautiful basically untouched landscapes out there. Aside from the miner's underground and the loggers heading further North for old growth trees it is untouched except for the occasional hunt camp. Up here with the bears, deer and moose.

For a truly different experience I suggest that everyone go ice fishing at least once in their life. This is spoken by someone who knows first-hand how it feels to go through the ice. First off, check with local people to make sure it's safe. Just because you see a shack out there, doesn't mean it's safe. The local nut job might just be out there for a laugh. I would suggest waiting for at least a foot thickness of ice.

The best time to go is in March, where the air temperature is warmer but the latent lake temperature is still cold enough to maintain the ice. You can hang out in your snow pants and a sweatshirt and really enjoy the sunshine. It's also a time to appreciate the artistic side of nature. Forests and lakes in the winter bring out so many stark contrasts and lines and the sun glinting off snow and ice is just fantastic. Remember to bring sunglasses and sunscreen though. You can still burn just as easily in the winter, especially with all of the reflective snow.

In the times I wasn't in the North, fishing was an activity that myself and my best friend in elementary school enjoyed almost every day through the summers. We would ride our bikes down the bright, green paths of Waterworks Park, hitting the natural jumps and dips that erosion and roots would make our way down to the fishing spot we called our own.
Waterworks Park - my friend was once chased by Canada Geese - possibly one of their parents

It was little more than a wide, murky stream filled with suckers and other bottom feeders, but it was ours and we enjoyed every minute of it, rain or shine. I'm not even sure what we talked about in those days, I just remember the tranquility. In an otherwise Industrial town this was a haven of nature with deep reservoirs, waterfalls and miles of trails. Somewhat interesting because the original foundations of the Park were that of the city's municipal water pumphouse and treatment plant.

In the years since, I have become aware of things like fishing licenses, imposed seasons, urban sprawl, chemical and mineral leaching, and an array of other issues that attempt to either manage or threaten to destroy these oases that I've enjoyed up until this point in my life. There are several I plan to focus on here, including the canceling of the Ontario Spring Bear Hunt and several aquatics topic that pertain to myself, my degree and other various points of interest that come up.

Cheers all - and hope you'll enjoy the naturalistic theme we'll be taking for the next little while. Feel free to comment and give suggestions on points for research!

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