Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Autumn Splendour

View through the window of the ACR
Nature is wonderfully fair to give us autumn splendour before our landscape turns to white. We have plenty of fall colour in our neck of the woods but this year we decided to venture northwest to see the colours of the Sault Ste. Marie area. We hopped on the Algoma Central Railway's famous autumn leaves train, which cuts north through the Canadian Shield and not far inland from Lake Superior.

The colours were terrific, as expected. It's a good year for leaves; oranges, reds, yellow-brown and deep plum colours. Some of the reds are so bright that it's not hard to imagine they are neon.

Many people believe that cold nights and frost make the leaves change colour.
Actually  light is the biggest factor. A fall with many bright sunlit days produce the most vibrant colours. A September with many overcast days makes for autumn colours that appear dull and listless.
Colours are amazingly bright this year
The ACR tour train leaves at 8 a.m. and travels about 114 miles north to Agawa Canyon near the east edge of Lake Superior Superior Provincial Park. There's a 1 1/2-hour stay in the canyon and you are back in the Soo by 6 p.m. Our cost was $99 each.

Much of the trip is through wilderness. High hills, deep valleys and many lakes and streams. Sometimes you'll see a moose standing in a swamp or a bear running across the tracks.

The tour train is packed daily during the time of changing leaves. There's little hope of getting a seat this year to see the colours unless there are unexpected cancellations.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Reconstruction of Dom and Con

And so it begins, the Great Reputation Reconstruction of two multi-millionaires who insist they were wronged by justice system of the United States of America.
Dominique Strauss-Kahn, 62, was on television during the weekend telling folks that he has "devoted his life to being useful to the people," indicating one little sexual mistake should not prevent him from continuing to do wonderful works for the world.
Strauss-Kahn is the former head of the International Monetary Fund who hopes to become president of France next year. His plans for more future greatness were sidetracked when he was arrested in New York City and charged with raping a hotel maid. The charges later were dropped. He said he had sex with the maid, but it was a “moral fault,” not rape, and that she lied about what really happened.
The television interview was conducted by a friend of Strauss-Kahn’s wife, incredibly rich heiress Anne Sinclair.
He still is trying to beat down the accusations of a female journalist who says he jumped on her like a “rutting chimpanzee” during an interview in 2003.  Also, a former IMF economist has said Strauss-Kahn used his position to have sex with her.
Meanwhile, multi-millionaire Conrad Black, 67, gave his own media interviews before going back to prison in Florida Sept. 6. He’s doing three and one-half years for mail fraud and obstruction of justice in fraud investigations of his now-collapsed media empire. He had been out of prison, and living in a five-star New York Hotel, during a partially-successful appeal process.
He says he’s a humbler and more sensitive person but insists he did nothing wrong, and is a victim of a vicious U.S. justice system.
Two rich men known for their arrogance seeking to be seen as men now changed after seeing the light. Their money and remnants of their power will make their reconstruction successful among some people. The majority of us, however, will simply wish they fade to black on television screens and in the newspapers. No matter their money or their influence, most people wouldn’t want either into their homes for dinner. No matter what their guilt, or non-guilt, these are not people we want our children to admire.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Bell Tolls Close to Home

We're so used to seeing and hearing news about tragedies in far off places that often times it just rolls off our backs. Death and destruction in Libya, Afghanistan, Somalia. A stream of bad news that starts to deaden the senses.

This week a tragedy at home jolted us into the realization of how cruel and unfair life really can be.

Two brothers 18 and 20 are being buried in the Alliston area this week after drowning together last weekend. They were cliff diving into Lake Huron off Bruce Penninsula National Park last Saturday when they were overwhelmed by heavy waves and undertow. Their bodies were recovered by the Canadian Coast Guard. A friend, a 20-year-old from nearby Cookstown, was rescued by a boater.

Gavin and Zachery Marengeur both had attended Banting High School in Alliston. Gavin was returning to the school this semester and had plans to study acting in university. Zac graduated in 2007, had auto mechnic schooling and announced last Friday that he had a job interview at Ford.

The loss is unbelievable for their mother, Cathy Marengeur. Mark Marengeur, her husband and the boys' father, died of a brain tumour six years ago.

A tragedy so close to home makes us understand the absolute truth of the words written in an ancient meditation and later into a poem:

Each man's death diminishes me,
For I am involved in mankind.
Therefore, send not to know
For whom the bell tolls,
It tolls for thee.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Our Cottage Visitors

With Labour Day weekend done, fewer cottagers will be around the lake. As autumn advances, people usually are replaced by more animals.
Most autumns a moose wanders down the road. Other animals that have kept to the safety of the woods begin to appear, expanding their food search areas as winter comes closer.
This year I haven’t waited for the fall appearances. We’ve been watching the animals on a trail camera set up far back in the woods. It’s surprising how much animal activity there is back there, activity you seldom see when passing through.

Top left is a buck with antlers still in velvet. I figure he is one of two bucks caught on camera because the other appears to have more antlers but it is hard to tell.

Next are two young guys born on the property this year. The fawn still has its spots. The cub is standing taking a look around. They are incredibly curious when they are young. And, there's mama bear. She has been behaving herself because we have seen no trace of her near the cottage this year. Last year the bears drove us crazy -- up on the cottage deck and spooking us at night. Must be more food in the back bush this year.

That's the mama deer next. She and the fawn stay close together. I see her large tracks beside tiny ones along the bush path.

Here's a night shot of cubby. He seems to be fattening    up nicely. We just hope the food supply holds as the bears try to take on fat for the winter. When they are hungry all the time, they are a nuisance even when you ensure their isn't a morsel or a smell of food around the cottage.