Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Celebrate Earth Day

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Spring is poetic justice after the meltdown of the brutal reign of the 1-Colour regime we call winter. The natural diversity of Cobourg Ecology Garden will green itself into another season of multicolourfulism.

From you have I been absent in the spring,
When proud-pied April, dressed in all his trim,
Hath put a spirit of youth in everything,
-- Shakespeare

Fifteen years ago it was nothing more than a great idea with a little ground to root in. It was nourished with love, beginning with Minnie Pennell, chair of the Environmental Advisory Committee, in cooperation with enthusiastic partners Mayor Joan Chalovich and Cobourg Town Council, Engineering Dept, Community Services Dept. Department of Finance, and Dept of Parks and Recreation. Funding was received from the Federal Govt. Friends of the Environment (Canada Trust), Cobourg area Environmental Association, the Cobourg and District Horticultural Society.

There were scouts and students and others. Yes, yes, tree huggers, green thumbs, econiks, with lungs aching to breathe free. Give me Breath then give me Liberty.

A little Madness in the Spring
Is wholesome even for the King,
But God be with the Clown --
Who ponders this tremendous scene --
This whole Experiment of Green --
As if it were his own!
-- Emily Dickenson

The entrance to the new Ecology Garden had a wooden sign bearing these engraved introductory words, “If ecology is the study of relationships between organisms and their environment, then an ecology garden is a garden that is sensitive to and inspired by these relationships.” That’s the scientific description.

Spring is type2 onset-wriggling, nuanced, slight, mild shivers of warmth, nouns become verbs, wriggling with the itch of life, in the earth, inside seed pods, inside cocoons, inside female mammals, humans of mass creation.

spring omnipotent goddess Thou
dost stuff parks
Spring slattern of seasons

you have soggy legs
and a muddy petticoat
eyes are sticky with dream
-- e e cummings

Cobourg Town Councillor and landscape architect, Miriam Mutton, who had been instrumental in the gardens initial design, wrote, “The main design aspect is to accommodate people and enable them to get closer and feel a part of the garden. [It] also uses exotics or non-native plants as a demonstration of how to combine plants in a healthy way for interest throughout the seasons.”

Minnie Pennell, chair of the organizing Committee, added that the garden is not only a place “to promote a natural environment, but also demonstrate methods of organic farming.” Organic, yes, organism to organasm in a single breakout season!

It is not enough that yearly, down this hill,
Comes like an idiot, babbling and strewing flowers.
-- Edna St. Vincent Millay

Who are the unacknowledged legislators who appropoetically aligned spring, poetry and Earth Day, and sang the Battle Hymn of the Poetic? The first Earth Day celebration at the Garden had a turnout of 40 people and that was at dawn. In a handful of years interest in the garden deepened, and Earth Day now attracts over 150 people. Did I mention that this ceremony of secular spirit happens at dawn?

Cobourg Ecology Garden is located at the foot of Hibernia Street on the lakefront immediately south of Legion Village, a local transit stop. A sizable parking lot is available across the street. Every day, in every season, people use the boardwalk that skirts the full length of the garden.

Councillor Mutton, explaining the initial site choice, wrote that “what distinguishes this Ecology Garden is access and is in a high traffic place, easy to visit, it is relatively small and compact and has good sight lines for safety.”

It wasn`t long before the garden was given national exposure in the Globe & Mail by garden columnist, Marjorie Harris, who asserted that ``Public spaces reflect our values and define what kind of society we are.`` She visited the garden on a summer afternoon, describing it as `` bathed in golden light and filled with glorious scents.” She added that ‘It seemed the most enchanting place on earth.”

This is April’s way: a woman:
“O yes, I’m here again and your heart
knows I was coming.”
“Who most loves danger?
Who most loves wings?
Who somersaults for God’s
sake in the name of wing power in the sun and blue on an April Thursday.”
-- Carl Sandburg

The Cobourg Ecology Garden is well positioned to midwife the grounds surrounding the west pier of the harbour. The area has become an exciting location for daily landings and takeoffs by squadrons of Canada Geese one moment, Mallards another. There is a wildness to the place that compels us to commune with our inner wild nature.

Cobourg Ecology Garden is an outpost for a lakefront feature that will be as treasured by the local community, as Toronto is of the evolution of the Leslie Street Spit. It is a commitment to a relationship between nature and culture in very close proximity to each other.

Over the years the garden has become a living classroom for students from all area schools. A number of workshops are held next to the garden each year, running the gamut from composting techniques to growing herbs to growing ornamental grasses. July is the month for a well-attended garden party. See you there.

Oh, give us pleasure in the flowers today;
And give us not to think so far away
As the uncertain harvest; keep us here
All simply in the springing of the year.
-- Robert Frost


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Monday, April 19, 2010

Friday, April 16, 2010

Thursday, April 15, 2010


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