Year’s end

The just past year is coming to an end and the next just about to start its beginning. “Time”, as once said, by a phrase coining pundit, “marches on.”
But has the past year brought on the changes that the evolution of human populations now demand? This I pondered as I sat watching out our breakfast nook window while I munched my usual bacon, eggs, and overly buttered, jam smeared toast. A coffee, my third for the day, having been brewed three hours earlier, had adopted a taste, consistency, and character more bilious than a bucket of lye. Freshly brewed, it was great, a secret that has undoubtedly added millions to the Tim Horton coffers.
I had been up since the hour of 5am, working on several selections for a second new book.
This, writings of the past, allows comparing thoughts of the then with the now, and I can’t help but feel that I have been banging my head against the proverbial stone wall for longer than the last two decades.  
Twenty years ago, as now, my writings catered to the encouragement of taking care of our environment. Twenty years ago, I wrote of the need to start taking care of our tributary wetlands, our source of fresh water. Twenty years ago, in written word, I spoke of the need to protect our wildlife, leaning leniently, because of local urban settings, towards that of the triple B, our birds, our bees, and our butterflies, for they are the “coal mine canary” of our own backyards. But I regret to admit, though probably the first to so do, that I have been completely unsuccessful. I have pitifully failed to get the necessary point across.
I have failed drastically to even phase, by example or otherwise, the efforts of our local urban so-called formal gardeners. Who, though they are certain to be the last to admit, are one of the worst grass root offenders. If conservation is to be widespread and successful it must start in our own back yards.
Sure, they say, I have planted a tree (it is a non native). Come and see my beautiful garden. Which is hacked and hoed and carefully row planted with evenly spaced beautiful (non native) greenery that is kept insect free by random spraying, and spraying, and spraying, of insecticide, fungicide, and weed controlling herbicide. Then, saturate with much needed, costly, chlorinated water, and feed fertilizers made with tampered chemicals in order to force short season blooming.
And come and see my beautiful weed-free lawn. It has been sodded with (non native) grasses, short-cut weekly and sprayed monthly by a local grass clipping monger. So smiling with pride, they pat each others back, and consider themselves good gardeners.
Well try and tell that to the birds, and the bees, and the butterflies, whose host plants and habitat are completely ignored, and which, like the birds, bees, and butterflies themselves are dwindling in untold numbers, year, after year, after year, from each and every backyard.
What is it going to take to wake the powers that be, on governing levels, municipal, township, county, provincial, federal, national, international and world wide, to the fact that our environment must be balanced. The air we breathe and the water we drink are world wide responsibilities.
Is the education of their ilk so narrowly furrowed that they fail to see? Do they not understand that the wind that drifts the snow in their yard is the same wind that, through eons, cut through the high mountain passes? Is their thoughts not on the fact that the same air that buffeted the ancient Pharaohs is the same that chills their cheeks on the days of our Santa Claus parades?
The same air that they have just sucked into their lungs could well be the same as belched from the gut of a, knee-deep, reed munching, water-buffalo in Africa. I thank God for the large old heritage maple, and its like, as seen from my breakfast nook window, which purifies the air that we breathe.
Extinction is an art being slowly mastered by man, who, with lack of foresight, fails to see it enveloping his own species; and we may be such in some far future year if the tide of thought is not severed from environment violation.
The pregnant echoes of our distant past are now facing us and the whiplash of our follies will be felt on the backs of our grandchildren, and their children’s children. Let’s hope, as Canadians, we can see fit to turn the tide and do better in the coming year.
Take care, ’cause we care.

Barrie Hopkins