Tuesday, 19 May 2020

EDMONTON EXISTENTIAL

Sowing Petulant Myopia

Spring has arrived in the province of Alberta albeit a little late and a little haggard. The ice-jam flood season seems to have passed with just a single incident or what people tend to describe as a “100-year event” even though natural disasters are now as commonplace as mass shootings. The northern town of Fort McMurray got swamped. The municipality is spending millions of dollars to create protective berms or levees. That news makes me think of genies and bottles, horses and barn doors. Wildfire season is just around the corner. Modern times.

Closer to home, our Jesuit educated premier seems to have embraced unhinged White House conspiracy theories regarding the genesis and spread of the covid-19 virus. Diplomatic relations between Canada and China were already fraught. A minor politician accusing the planet’s most powerful authoritarian regime of virology complicity and incompetence before taking a breath to plead with the villain to buy Alberta’s canola, oil and pork is simply wet market batshit crazy.

Alberta has always imagined she can play in the big leagues. When two hostile petro-states colluded to crush America’s shale and fracking energy industry, there were bound to be casualties, collateral damage. Canada is neither Nigeria nor Venezuela, but Alberta shares the vulnerability of these competing, inefficient and failing single-resource countries. When the price of oil drops, when a barrel of crude isn’t worth an investor’s dime, our boom-and-bust economic revue pauses for Chaos to enter stage right followed by the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

Alberta shyly revealed some of her tired majesty this recent Victoria Day long weekend. A few provincial parks opened their gates with a myriad of restrictions beyond the usual cautions about open fires and open alcohol. Many are destined to remain closed forever because quality of life and conservation, like funding a decent, well-rounded educational system and ensuring reliable, efficient health care, can be so darned expensive.

Speaking of costs, what’s the difference between garden soil and potting soil? About two dollars a bag. Really close to home, spring has finally arrived at the Crooked 9. Ann and I were particularly anxious to welcome luminous sprouts of green following a lingering drab and dreary winter, its last weeks spent in isolation. In the meantime, when weather permitted, we cleaned up the debris in the yard, swept out the exterior crawlspace beneath the kitchen and stained the stairs leading up to our back door. The lawn’s already been mowed for the first time this year - eleven more until Thanksgiving.

Ann knew too that she’d have to improvise somewhat with her flowerbeds and pots this spring because the owners of her favourite greenhouse announced their retirement last fall. But Ann didn’t expect a pandemic. Nobody expects a pandemic! Still, Ann’s been able to manage her passion with a practical panache. She has planted new life in spite of everything and it’s no small blessing for me to share in her pleasure.

We bought a few sacks of composted cow manure the other day to help Ann’s garden grow. I was amused to discover that the product was processed and shipped from Laval, a northern suburb of Montreal. The official word out here from the legislature is the usual endless goofy GIF loop of blame: Albertans have taken enough shit from other countries, the rest of Canada and especially Quebec. And so I’m amazed we have to import more of it. Anyway, so far Ann’s annuals are thriving in a particularly unstable climate.

meGeoff has been your most unreliable, unbalanced and inaccurate alternative record of gardening since 2013. Sign up for e-mail alerts from the Crooked 9.

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