Tuesday, May 20, 2014



When people fall into the conversational trap and ask where my cottage is, not realizing they're in for an illustrated lecture, their interest decreases a tad when I say on a point in the Trent River.
Yet there's nothing sleepy about this river when it seems all the water in Ontario is rushing by on the way to the Great Lakes. The current was pounding with such fury the other day, there were whitecaps. Only a few knuckleheads were fishing.
In fact, the gush was so fierce, the river was rolling over some docks. When I went into my  old boathouse, which is held up only by hopes of reinforcement, I found myself wading.
The municipality sent cottagers a warning letter about flooding two weeks before, but things were normal at the point on my first visit. Not on the last. Neighbours had their bottoms (of properties, silly) under water. You had to slosh across low spots on their lawns.
That didn't stop a few idiot yachters using the Trent Severn waterway for the first weekend of the season from roaring through the Northumberland Narrows when you would think that even a jerk could see they were throwing waves on the shore and over some docks where kids were playing until parents screamed.
My rule of turned-down thumb about too many operators of, say, a 45-foot-boat, is that their IQ is only double that. If you put a decimal point in the middle of the figure, you get the size of their package, the current too-cute expression for genitalia.
 Probably even then I exaggerate.
It's even worse with many power boats flying the Stars and Stripes since too many of them feel, when they're not fishing illegally, that anything goes in their manoeuvres because they're not in their America but in the tolerant land to the north.
The height of the holiday weekend featured too many floating islands that had been smashed away from wetlands by the waves and were roaring down the Trent like it was a demolition derby.
Earlier,  cottagers to one side dealt with a huge mass of shrubs, vegetation, moss, muck, reeds and tangled roots that took up more space than many cottages. Some put their boats in early just to try to shunt the sodden nightmare away from smashing too much of their docks.
Later we had a regular shuttle of several jet skis shepherding smaller islands around my point and to the far side of the narrows where they could do almost no damage. They worked at it for hours.
Damn, I said to neighbours over the first rum-and-coke and old cheese of the cottage year, there actually is a use for those annoying Sea-Dos.
The jet ski operators had a ball, roaring around like cowboys at the edge of the herd in a Western, shouting cheerily to each other, the feeling of crisis hanging around them as if they were battling Nature claw by claw. Good for them. They had fun, but more importantly, they were doing something useful for a chancge rather than just ruining the gentle ambience.
It was not a normal time at Burnt Point. I hope the politicians noticed. After all, this is the first time the shoreline around me has flooded in 34 years. And the future is grim.
It may not seem an immediate problem for them. After all, the waterway operators controlling the dams are doing the best they can, although it is suspicious that since the control of the flow has been taken away from the guys at Healey Falls locks, the water level in the narrows, Seymour Lake and Burnbt Point Bay has become wildly erratic.
Yet if this is the new norm, if North America is really going to have more wild swings in weather as predicted, then cottagers, who don't get as much for their taxes as residents in Campbellford and other communities along the waterway, should expect not to be left to their own devices when floating "islands" come smashing into us.
(My sons and I have wrestled with smaller ones over the years butting up against the point. It's like pushing against a bulldozer.)
Cottagers in the sprawling Trent Hills municipality can't send kids to the local schools even if we wanted to during a teachers' strike.  We don't benefit as much from services like libraries, pools and gyms,. We're on our own when it comes to sewers and water. So the least we can have is have some marine patrols when all hell is breaking lose and logs are roaring down the Trent like Goliath's spear, along with jagged stumps and chunks of swampland.
Since the local beaver have graduated recently from cutting down a small oak and lovely maple near my boat house (where they occasionally board) and are dropping poplars all over the place, maybe the clever councillors who look down their noses at silly cottagers wanting to be treated as an important source of urban revenue will actually help us out with special cottage services, such as a few trappers.
After all, they employ dog catchers and weed inspectors, which are of no use to me because all the dogs bark and wander all the time anyway, and we can no longer put anything strong on our dandelions. Yet trapping a few beavers and perhaps making a coat for Mayor Hec would be rather useful and save more of the scenery from being flattened.
I'm looking forward to the cottage summer, After the winter in the city, anything would be an improvement. It would be nice, however, if the Trent settled down and stopped acting as unruly and dangerous as a city council meeting.

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