Monday, October 11, 2004


Autumn's here. You can tell by the wind and angle of the light. I always feel that if I were suddenly cast into a coma and lay there for twenty years (like Rip Van Winkle) and was roused on a sunny afternoon in October, that I could tell you it was a Saturday in October. This Saturday was the convergence of our eleventh anniversary (I know, I know...) and Thanksgiving weekend. We spent the day at the Butterfly Conservatory near, Niagara, Ontario. It's an enormous greenhouse where butterflies float and dodge like snowflakes. Some drift like scraps of paper while others flap furiously to hover above an alien looking blossom. If you lean in closely to examine a particularly iridescent specimen, you might be misted by automatic sprayers or collide with a brightly plumaged wing. No silk can match their colour, no map can chart their course (though of course, some entomological nerds claim to). Birdlike they ascend and like ash they fall. It's remarkable how fragile they seem. People walk along the pathways as though they were trying not to break spider's webs. You watch your step for fear of crushing one resting on the stones below. For all of this caution, these bugs have an average life span of a few weeks. Some varieties live longer and can last the winter by essentially filling themselves with a natural anti-freeze. My predominant thought was why are we so careful not to squish bugs in a green house, but seem thoughtlessly destructive anywhere else. Maybe it's because we paid $10 to see these bugs and didn't want to mess up what we just paid for. It just seemed odd that someone took great care to construct this conservatory, just for the beauty of butterflies, in which, we tip toe around the artificial nature, but in the world outside we just stomp around crushing actual nature at every opportunity. Ironically, just down the road from the conservatory is one of Canada's first hydroelectric stations. Finished in the '20's, Sir Adam Beck Power Station, was the largest of it's kind upon completion. At once a zenith of our engineering acumen and simultaneously a nadir of our reckless misuse and destruction of the world around us. I guess we pick and choose just what part of the environment we protect and what we neglect. After all, nobody is planning on building any Bat Conservatories any time soon.

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