Throughout the summer we have stared drought in the face. There have been dry summers before, but none to match this one. Now, though, with the fall rains finally here, we can begin the long road back to restoring the ground water levels. Once again nature has given us another unearned chance. That is one definition of a gift, isnít it, an unearned second chance. Considering the foolish ways through which we fail to appreciate the chances we get, I sometimes wonder how many times nature will continue to come to our rescue.
Thanksgiving for many of us has become a long weekend to be used closing the cottage or girding up for the Christmas buying season. Many spend it in cross-border shopping trips. But at its heart, Thanksgiving has always provided families the opportunity to come together to share food and company, a moment to appreciate all of the unearned gifts that nature provides.
We in Canada need to relearn our parentsí appreciation of home grown food. When I was young my mother filled the Thanksgiving table with vegetables from our garden, a turkey from our neighbourís farm and home baked buns and pies. By the end of the meal, actually long before the end, we could hardly move. It was a celebration of family, friendship and food.
This year, however, Thanksgiving provided one more compelling reason to appreciate natureís gifts. Throughout the fall of 2007 we have faced the spectre of winter arriving without fall rains. I had even begun researching drought resistant garden vegetables when, against all forecasts, the rain came, making this one of the best Thanksgivings ever.
Now, with this drought fresh on our minds, we just had a provincial election in which half of the eligible voters voted with their feet. Not one of the three major parties which garnered all of the seats presented a platform that featured climate change or its effect on fresh water supplies. Even the drought of 2007 was not enough to make us demand responsible environmental action from those to whom we entrust our government. If it is true that actions have consequences, then it is also true that inaction has consequences equally significant. When we quietly walk away from our right to vote, we quietly approve our legislatorsí lack of real action to protect the environment for our children, hoping instead that there will always be one more unearned second chance.
With the water levels of The Great Lakes down over a metre, Ontario has already lost a staggering amount of fresh water that will never return. Our own water table in the Kawarthas has been lowering each year for the last decade. This year the rains arrived just in time to serve the needs of spring planting. Many wells in Mariposa had already gone dry. We canít live without fresh water. Surely this was an issue over which an election could have been fought. Surely championing this issue would have demonstrated the leadership that was thrown about so casually in the partiesí advertising. Maybe sometime during the next few months there will be a federal election in which political parties will once again talk about leadership. If so, maybe Ontarians will see this as a gift, an unearned second chance to defend their childrenís right to clean safe water and a clean safe environment. It sure beats walking away. See you next time.