The best bit of course is being able stay home until after my road has been plowed ... and I am still enjoying the novelty of that. All in all, winter has become such a sweet cozy time that towards the end I'm almost dreading the change of pace when spring, and gardening season, arrives.
Until of course the dance actually starts. Somehow I have never outgrown the ability to get 'lost' in the garden. Pulling one weed can still lead to clearing the entire bed. There is a sensual 'parade' of fragrance that begins with the fruit blossoms and keeps ticking over with the first lilacs to the wild roses to the herbs in full flower.
Just like the proverbial river, one never stands in the same garden twice. The odd thing gets shifted about and there is always an interesting new plant or flower or vegetable to try. Good gardens, like anything else in life, take time to grow into their best selves.
Gardening isn't everyone's cup of tea..... novices are often bursting with enthusiasm during the winter .... going through the seed catalogues online in their flannel pj's and bunny slippers. Some of the excitement starts to slip when they are battling the bugs to plant all the seeds. Some get discouraged when the weeds seem to win the battle if left unchecked for even a few days in June. And others just realize that the garden will not play second fiddle to camping trips and summer vacation.
Honestly, gardening doesn't need to be everyone's cup of tea.... but trying to grow one at least once is a great life experience, no matter how it turns out. After all .... if everyone grew all their own food, who would keep the farmers in business, eh?
When things don't pan out, the garden can either be scaled back or revert back to lawn completely. No harm ... no foul.
Its a completely different cup of tea when well intentioned folks dip their toes into the inviting waters of pet ownership. Of course it looks lovely .... the media are full of tempting pictures of families with the handsome big, well behaved dogs and the affectionate and engaging cats.
Last year when I lost Ben, I was so upset that I didn't 'dust' my potatoes when I should have. So of course, almost overnight the potato bugs decimated the fledgling plants. I did the only sensible thing and tilled the potato patch over and let it sit fallow for the rest of the season.
What happens to dogs and cats when someone doesn't pay attention? Pets do not train themselves. Those handsome dogs in the commercials are well behaved because their guardians took the time to 'teach them the ropes'. Bit by bit, day by day, someone understood that all youngsters are like do it yourself kits .... everything that is needed to be a great pet is already there. It is the guardians job to help these cute youngsters succeed in the journey.
What happens when the guardians loose interest? ( The subject of how people can feel it is acceptable to break the heart of a loyal and devoted pet instead of making the effort for successful adjustment is a really big fat rant for another day) The ONE thing that pets want to do is to please the people they fall in love with.
As a sidebar note to this, did you know that when addicts are recovering, most programs and councillors encourage them to get a plant before they try to get a pet. If the plant is still thriving and doing well after a year, then it will be time to move on to adding a living breathing sentient being to their home.
I know I go on and on like a stuck record, but we will never get to No Kill Nova Scotia until we turn off the tap.
Its pointless to simply have adoption screening criteria for reputable rescues and breeders. There are too many other options out there for anyone who 'doesn't pass muster'. Pet stores, the free online sites, backyard breeders and unsavoury entrepreneurs like the Benoits' are quick to provide the 'no questions asked' solution.
In other words .... turning off the tap does not mean keeping people from having pets. Here in the real world, when someone has their 'heart' set on it, they will find a way. Instead, it means providing the resources that are needed so that these pets do not wind up in rescue, being taken to the vets to be killed, being dumped or continually being recycled through the free online sites.
Resources such as are in place in Calgary, where they have:
- Licensing and permanent pet ID
- Easily accessible spay/neuter programs
- Training, socialization, grooming and food—basic needs for a dog to feel safe and comfortable
- Proper supervision to prevent a pet becoming a nuisance in the community.
The fringe benefit to this type of proactive approach is that Calgary has reduced its level of dog bite incidences to the lowest level in 25 years .... without BSL.
Turning off the tap doesn't mean preventing people from having pets .... it means focusing on finding solutions so that these pets do not wind up "being tilled under".
What time is it? With less than two weeks until the ballots are cast, its time to remind all the hopeful harries who come knocking at your door that concern for animal welfare creates better communities and if they want Nova Scotia to "come to life" that's a great place to start.