Earth Matters by Jacqueline Milner – Retreating to the Land of Bears, Cherries, and Clean Water – July 6, 2011 – Ste Agathe Nord, Quebec

CFN – Just benefited from a little time to “personally restore” on a retreat in the Laurentians close to the town of Sainte-Agathe-Nord, Quebec.

Surrounded by thick mature forest, clean crisp air and sparkling fresh water recharging and relaxation was served up in short order.  My cabin was located in an area which does not allow motorized vehicles on the water.  Just imagine the peace and tranquility.  One of the most wonderful, stirring moments on this trip was the haunting call of a lone loon on the lake one morning at 5 a.m.  Surprisingly there were few biting bugs and the nights were cool and quiet for sleep and reflection.

The roads in and around this area are steep surrounded by trees and often with steep descents close to the water.  Speed limits were often in the 20 km range.  As such, garbage and recycling pick up were designated at a particular area for the community to use.  The signs posted gave us warning of bears in the area.  Bears are usually wary of people so I kept an eye out but wasn’t overly concerned about the bears.  Actually I was pleased to be able to share an area that had the space, cover and food sources available to accommodate the needs of such a large animal.

On one of my walks I discovered a tree that had completely engulfed and grown over a very large boulder.  There is something that I find very fascinating about the juxtaposition of plants and rocks.  It is amazing how plant life can take hold of “a small little hole in the armor”, so to speak, and somehow, with great determination…prosper.  It is this amazing tenacious will to live and flourish that gives me great hope for our planet in spite of the havoc we reek upon her.  That is not to say that we can continue to soil, disrespect or waste resources without regard to our environment without paying the consequences.  This image however gives me hope that our living planet will live on in spite of our actions.  I dare say that we will be the cause of our own demise if we continue to forego thought before we act.
In a previous column I had recommended a wonderful fruit bearing bush for those of you wishing to plant greenery which also served as a food source for local wildlife.  The Nanking Cherry bush is a wonderful specimen which is currently full of ripe cherries for consumption by people or birds.  The draw back of using these berries for human consumption is their flesh to pit ratio is about 50-50 whereas you would get more flesh on cultivated cherries.  This is the only thing I have ever seen Robins eat besides worms.  They love these cherries.  Planting one or two of these will be greatly appreciated by a variety of birds and can be used for your own consumption.

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