It’s early. and I couldn’t sleep. A bit of a dull ache in my forehead, swooning towards a headache on the left side of my head. The last few days has made my existence in paradise a bit off. A soreness in my throat up towards my ear on my right side adds to stereo effect of discomfort.
No its not COVID, its harvest dust.
I had went to bed early, last night, the malaise and the weather; grey oily clouds and blowing and colder; hovering a third of the way between 40 and 50 degrees. I had spent the day mainly on my own. Quiet.
Introspective and listening too, watching occasionally the dust and acrid nonsense rise from the wheat field just across the way. A greedy combine at work…across the wetland — the slough in my backyard. Filled low with water and the with migrating geese, and ducks of all kinds pushed down by the weather on their way south, to winter.
Different travelers arrive every day, overnight and then shuttle out by early morning for southern climes.
Their had been larger flocks in and out of the wheat field, across the slough, gorging on the wheat as fuel for their tremendous task.
It seems a metabolic change happens every year as their bodies change the production of thyroid hormones, and these levels rise in them drastically. Their stress is high as huge amounts of of corticosterone flood their bodies on this yearly ritual. So they become twitchy and quick to flight. Stressed and fearful.
I had heard the echo shotguns earlier, it’s hunting season.
The working combines in the field, bright red and noisy, up and down, belching Round-up laden wheat dust and chafe out the back like some mechanical steam punk predator, breathing smoke. Spooks them, and they make a circle of the field and come back to where they began only to be disturbed again when the red beast returns.
They got tire of all this, repeat and left, and the field was finally completed and the workers left as quickly as they had come, machines passing on to next…
A calm came over the slough as the dust settled and the quiet; the geese had left and dusk came. I spent some time back and forth watching the field during the day. The silent took hold as the natural sound of the wind above it and the occasional howl of cold got colder and that autumn loneliness I feel on days such as this. The winter threatening to be very early was set back in all that, sort of foundation that it is all built on…
I put something warm on and sat on the back porch huddle against solemn. Staring out at all that weather. It impresses me the sure power of it, the inexhaustible constant of the steady wind.
I looked across the water and caught a glimpse of a white head, bobbing to the ground and then up again and looking around to see if anything was watching. I thought it a coyote, feeding on duck and went inside to fetch my binoculars.
The focus only brought me so close to the scene, and there he was a grand and majestic bald eagle, an old seasoned male driven to ground by the weather all above him. Tearing at the quick meal, stopped from further travel tonight and heading to his favorite lands after the summer breeding period has ended. Passing on his genes as nature requests to the next generation as he finishes his life in his preferred manner, as a solitary.
I was caught up in his business, and I felt his frustration of being brought to the ground — he is built for high flight above it all, like a feathered god, they like higher places and will built large structures way up in tall trees. There have been a number of them around a lake close to here and I am a dedicated bird watcher, and find pleasure in watching such grand creatures. Your presence within a several hundred yards of them is far too close. They can see a long way.
I thought about his prey, I wondered if he took it from that dusty field, the field is toxic at this time of year, drenched in the desiccant Round-up in the push for quicker harvest that has become habit. It is now the standard practice to spray the fields of ripening wheat as it gets close to the seasoned end — with Round-up to force the death of the plant and the quick drying.
That field had sat for a week or so with that dull sickly brown that lack of any life at all, that vegetation gets after the spraying with Round-up. It is lifeless and even toned across the length and breadth, seeming like it was scorched by a great fire or irradiated.
No longer can they wait for the natural death of the wheat and ripening gold of the tops, that will spread across a field in the natural state like a painter hand to oils on a canvas.
The natural fall ripening of wheat is beauty to be seen in pale and platinum gold and a lovely Naples yellow. This other is…industrial. Dark with a taste of steel, oil and poison… matched only by what was across the road, on the opposite side of the field.
The power lines newly made, and finished this year to supply much needed energy to the native land that is close. The line runs all the way from Prince Albert to White Fish reserve.
The provincial power company has taken to the policy of spraying Round-up under the power lines to suppress any growth in the ditches. But I have rarely seen large trees grow there, just the ground level wild cranberry, a potent food and the dogwoods and wolf willow. And besides it takes thirty years for a tree to become a threat to a power line.
The department of highways are always coming through with their continuous track chipper, shredding everything in its path as it deposits it were it is cut it, to manicure the snowmobile trail that runs the length of that highway — part of a greater and well organized snowmobile trail system through Northern Saskatchewan. So the Round-up is redundant.
All along that new line through the young green of spring and full growth of summer, that sick brown spoke of this scientific technocracy we are now living in…the waste of poisoning the land for efficiency of work. Most times it is overkill.
It is all a system now, with my home part of the province turned into a vast green house with controlled weather and rain in the spring and the quick flush of the mature green and right amount of sunshine towards the end of the harvest period.
I was impressed with the wildness of this place, when I first came here, fifteen years ago. Living on the back edge of the great north, backed up and stacked with trees by the immense size of the great Boreal forest that travels north to the arctic.
A vast land of pure nature and the flocks and the eagles and the deer and the coyotes. I am feeling a loss today, the harvest does not feed, it is not golden wheat and full of abundance for the world. But built for sickness and disease, control, poison laden and tapped full of industry and the promise of a vaccination.
It is unusual this year, the harvest is quicker its seems, and the colder solar cycle that is creeping to awaken the sun again. A sun that is moving to a grand minimum and possible ice age sleep a decade from now.
A cold long winter is ahead I am told, and by reckoning, and I am left with the waste of 2020.
I will still search for life and the thriving in the year that should not have been.