Even if you roll your eyes at anything Disney, you can’t help but feel like you’ve walked into a scene from one of its bazillion family animated films where humans gleefully consort with wildlife.
My father was a drifter before he met my mother. From the age of 15 when he left home, he spent the next 14 years exploring Canada as few do – by riding freight trains and hitchhiking. He was a great storyteller and he was a Canadian patriot. He could have been a great dad but his problems with alcohol precluded this.
Dad had a particular love for Canada’s west. A few years ago, over the course of more than one full month, we drove all the way to Whitehorse, Yukon, to spend a week in the land of the midnight sun. It was an epic road journey and along the way, I hope, an appreciation for our country was passed on to my kids, just as my father once did for me through his storytelling.
We have all driven or walked past them — the empty lots, both big and small, that have sat undeveloped and seemingly abandoned or forgotten, in some cases for decades. Whether it’s a former gas station on the city’s busiest street, the site of a former brake pad factory or a long empty First World War munitions plant cum rubber processor, these sites — referred to commonly as ‘brownfields’ — lie dormant; they are victims of an earlier time.
We used to do things a lot differently in the past. Be it from a leaky gas station tank or the unsafe handling and disposal of chemicals used in manufacturing, we have been left with a sobering, expensive – and ugly – brownfields legacy.
The first rule of Owl Prowl is: You do not talk — about Owl Prowl or anything else — when you enter the owl’s world. Listen, listen, listen, is the advice offered by Rob Stavinga, the avid birder leading the prowl.
We — the lucky few who snapped up the spots for Kawartha Conservation’s first prowl –are gathered in the Ken Reid administration centre on a Saturday evening to learn about owls and hear some pre-prowl tips.
Rob wants us to become a bit owl-like ourselves, though from his introduction, it’s clear we’ll never come up to owl standards. There are 22 of us, including an excited and excitable three-and-a-half year old named Ian, and we have none of the sound-dampening adaptations of owls, so we’re just not going to be completely soundless.