FOR EARTH DAY, APRIL 22, 2011, DAWN
HOW DOES YOUR ECOLOGY GARDEN GROW?
Spring is nature’s Poetic Justice after the meltdown of the cold and brutal reign of the One-Colour Regime, popularly know as winter.
It’s on its melt that the natural diversity of the Cobourg Ecology Garden driven ‘through the green fuse’ will meet the warm seasons with the celebratory policy 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,
Sixteen years ago Cobourg Ecology Garden was nothing more than a great idea with a little ground in which to root. 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.
Whew, what a bunch of bureaucratese! But that’s modern life. In human terms, Minnie Pennell met with a lot of thoughtful people in the community who were convinced by her great green gospel to facilitate her vision; let there be green, and so it was done.
There were scouts and students, mothers and others of course. Yes, yes, tree huggers, green thumbs, econiks, some bearing children with pink precious lungs aching to breathe free.
Give me Breath, then give me Liberty!
The Cobourg Ecology Garden introduces itself at the entrance with a wooden sign bearing this organic message, “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, concise and elegant, highly unpoetic.
Spring is when shallow-soiled seeds the size of punctuation marks unfold themselves from question marks all curled into foetal poetential and burst above ground as full blown exclamation points shouting in colour.
Spring is when little nouns in the ground grow up to become a herd of verdant verbs, all soiled with the rich itch of life hibermating in seed pods, cocoons, female mammals and humans of mass creation. American poet e.e.cummings wrote, “spring omnipotent goddess Thou / dost stuff parks / Spring slattern of seasons.”
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.”
Ms Mutton is actually talking about the immigration of plant life (exotics) into the local mainstream community, an effort that often pays off in a brilliant display of multicolourfulism.
Minnie Pennell, chair of the organizing Committee, added that the garden is not only a place “to promote a natural environment, but also to demonstrate methods of organic farming.”
Organic, yes, organism to organasm in a single breakout season! Poet Edna St. Vincent Millay described it best, “It is not enough that yearly, down this hill / April comes like an idiot, babbling and strewing flowers.” So who were 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 location...it 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.”
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. The fertility of the place is well grounded, and a gazebo is provided as a departure lounge for those wishing to enjoy a flight of fancy to the Imagine Nation.
Earth Day, Spring and Poetry are a natural ménage a trios of celebration of the continuity of life through seasonal cycles. The unrelenting oppression of The Cold has driven life deep underground where it hibermates, where the grass routes are planned, where ‘through the green fuse’ multicolourfulism bursts forth. Thus begins the Politics of Spring.
In spring there is an insurrection of grass and love. In spring the snow disperses like a mob of resentful rioters. In spring the sun leads a successful guerrilla movement or coup d'etat. All winter our flesh was ignorant of the sedition of sunlight. In fields there are wounds in the snow where grass bleeds green, where grass is an awakening eye.
No one ever votes spring into power. Is spring a totalitarian imperialist? Is spring a liberation move meant to infiltrate foreign agents, such as robins, blue-jays, children, to sabotage snowmobile trails and ski hills and encourage Green Power? Spring is a tolerant state because it permits equal opportunity to all colours. (Winter is a 1‑colour regime.) Perhaps we all love spring because it allows civil rights to the tulips, to the lilacs, to the exuberant blossoms all petalwide gluttoning sunshine and busy bees lathered in flower-frolic zzzzzZZzziinng in backyards across the imagine nation.
The sun is prosecutor and executioner of snow. The sun casts an unanimous verdict and ignores all appeals. April showers are the mourner's tears after winter has been hung from the gallows of warmth. Summer is the sun's gift of appeasement for the questionable use of coercive force to eliminate snow.
If a poet wore the premier of something, what might that something be? Would it be a nation of obedient poetry lovers? Would the national militia consist of a mighty militia of tulips armed with colour and sunshine? Would the national anthem be a long joyful sigh after love?
Would the Union of Pollen Producers go on strike demanding higher rates of sunlight and more elaborate fringe benefits, such as lighter showers and heavier dew? Would this cause a crisis across the imagine nation? Would the Creative Intelligence Anarchy report that the Insect Pollen Transportation Organization had been infiltrated by dissident outside agitators such as breezes?
Would the Federal Bureau of Inspiration be called in to conduct a thorough inspiration?
Would the constitution enshrine the Prime Policy of Poetry Proselytization and Proliferation? What would be the foreign policy? Would we accept only immigrants carrying passport dreams? Then, what about the refugees from Grief and defectors from Despair? Would we establish dipoematic relations with Pain, negotiate for a ceasefire and settle for shorter durations?
Will we pick and chose our enemies at the drop of a poem and come charging, singing the Battle Hymn of the Poetic?