Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Winter's Work

Fred and I after our interview at CBC in Thunder Bay on 27 October 2014
After three months on the road, chasing Energy East from Fort McMurray to the Bay of Fundy for 14,632 kilometres, we wonder if any Transcanada personnel now have our experience of the entire pipeline route from Hardisty to Saint John...

When we think of how much we've seen and experienced through all this, it nearly makes us dizzy. There comes a time when you've
assimilated so much beauty and wisdom that you've got to come home to write down the wisdom, curate the specimens, and get the beauty onto the canvas. Also you run out of money after a while.

It's been a long haul: since the last on-site painting (Tunnel Island), we went across snowy, high-water northern Ontario driven by scheduled meetings - a presentation about our travels in Thunder Bay organized by Ontario Nature, dropping in on friends at the Empire Theatre in Cochrane, refusing to drive when our summer tires wouldn't have been able to keep a grip on Hwy 11 past Temagami (thereby avoiding participation in the horrible Hallowe'en crashes we saw there). We described our travels to the Ontario Rivers Alliance at North Bay, and then things were simplified as we came down the Ottawa Valley by the fact that the rivers were too high to sample, various foliages were too frosted to waypoint, Standard Time made it seem much later than the clock said, and the traffic was light.

Once we were home, and had been shown to the grandson, the first thing I did was finish my Aidie Creek Winter Coming painting and publish our 2015 Fragile Crossings Calendar, while Fred dried and bagged the samples, leaving him something like 1.5 cubic metres of material to work through over the winter. Then more than a month was consumed by a cascading list of meetings, repairs, presentations, errands, and administrative duties. 

Now it feels as if we can finally begin to settle into a winter routine of working up collections and data, and resuming continued posting of paintings and results from places we visited but where we visited too briefly to paint. 

Fred's project for the winter is to write a webpage summarizing data in our database from a 10 km radius from each place where the route crosses a stream, and to update these pages as we identify more material, or get data from other sources.

I'll be first finishing paintings begun in the field, and then moving on to sites where we only have photographs, as well as doing a few local crossings during the winter.  I will also be teaching oil painting to the first year Fine Arts class at St Lawrence College in Brockville, using many of my plein air paintings from the expedition as teaching tools.

We're seriously considering another Fragile Crossings expedition next year, and hoping to assemble a group to advise us, and to keep our work co-ordinated with that of others concerned about this proposal. Perhaps the post-Mudpuppy Night gatherings at the Brigadoon (once it reopens on 15 January) can become a venue for discussing Energy East work.

It's a great privilege to cross Canada by road. We are conscious not only of the investment in time, but the cost in energy and resources - from gas and truck parts to internet and cell phones. We all share the trickle down and cumulative effects of these expensive "privileges" on our vulnerable air, land, and water.

We hope that what we noticed, collected, documented, shared, and have yet to share, will be worth the cost, so that our footprints will be lighter than air, catalysing and inspiring the paradigm shift that we all know must come, in the hope that it won't come too late.

Aleta & Fred

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