Welcome to my BLOG!Things that Went Bump in the Night
Over Christmas NIght we heard a few things that went bump and shook buildings. Wiseacres (not to be confused with Wise Men) said Santa's reindeer had gotten into rum-laced eggnog and were making some rough landings. The bumps sounded like dull thuds, like a tree falling over, accompanied by a shaking of the house. Since we had been experiencing the dropping of large ice-laden limbs, this made a lot of sense. Except that there weren't any fallen trees.

The explanation was that the sounds were cryoseisms, created by a sudden fall in temperature which froze water in the ground, causing the ground to crack and buckle. They were heard and felt at various times in the Belleville and Toronto areas, and probably elsewhere as well.

I dunno. I've been around for almost 70 years and I've never heard them before. I don't think we can rule out the reindeer theory.
What's that crack in the ground, daddy?

Terry Sprague, the naturalist who is contributing to Wind, Water, Barley & Wine, recently submitted an aerial photograph clearly showing a ragged line running northeast-southwest across Long Point. Could this be a fault line, he asked? The response from geologist Dugald Carmichael, also a contributor to this project, was that it was more likely a pop-up, an upward fracturing of rock caused by underground pressures in the limestone layers below. Dugald had been of the opinion that pop-ups, resembling pressure ridges in lake ice in winter, formed slowly over thousands of years. Then he came across a web site which detailed a pressure pop-up which happened instantly, with much noise and ground-shaking, in northern Michigan. Oops! Is there a potential pop-up under your house? To see the evidence, click HERE.

The Aussies Are Ahead of Me

Sometimes when I try to explain how Wind, Water, Barley & Wine is going to present a new view of Prince Edward County, I have trouble getting my point across. Maybe I lack communication skills, although they have stood me in good stead for many years. I refer to the book as presenting a view of the county through the lens of geology. The development of the county has been defined by its geological underpinnings and environment.

This may be a new approach to the county's history but this is not an original idea world-wide, I have discovered. The Aussies have already done it. Of course, they have applied it to a whole continent, but the approach seems similar. Here's the wording from a website:
"Shaping a Nation: A Geology of Australia is the story of a continent’s geological evolution as seen through the lens of human impacts. Exploring the geology, resources and landscapes of Australia, the book reveals how these have helped to shape this nation’s society, environment and wealth. Presented in a refreshingly non-linear format, the book summarises much of what we know about this country’s geological history, discussing the fossil record and evolution of life across the continent, describing its mineral and energy reserves, and revealing the significance of its coastal and groundwater systems."

Well, well. Yes. We even use the same wording. That's what I'm trying to say about Wind, Water, Barley & Wine. They even say "accompanied by stunning photography". Me, too!
If you wish, you can read more about this Australian literary adventure at http://www.ga.gov.au/products-services/publications/shaping-a-nation.html. Happy reading! Don't forget WWBW!

Shaken, not stirred

An aerial photograph taken northeast of Picton shows some remarkable parallel lines through the red cedar scrub on the ground. A satellite shot from Google shows the same. What on earth could they be? A geology expert says they are "ice scours", or gouges ploughed into the soft sediment at the bottom of a lake that once covered Prince Edward County. If you love geology you'll be fascinated by these photos. Coming up in Wind, Water, Barley & Wine. Icebergs on the county. Thousands of years before the county made its first Ice Wine. Remarkable.

At the end of Bakker Road

One day in September I drove down to the end of Bakker Road. There is a nice sand beach there, and across the water you can see Nicholson Island. There was no one else on the beach, save for a couple who were enjoying one of the last sunshiny days of summer. We got to talking, and found out a couple of things we had in common. One was that we were refugees from the Big City, and the other was the Globe and Mail. I used to write for people like them in the Globe and, as their part of the bargain, they used to read my stuff in the Globe. A very strong and positive connection, wouldn't you say? So there we are, up to our ankles in Prince Edward County sand, recounting tall tales of Ontario politics in days of yore.

It was a sereNDPity kind of day. I had just visited By Chadsey's Cairns, a winery run by Richard Johnston who used to be an occasional target in my column when he was an NDP member of the legislature. Richard and his partner Vida Zalnieriunas make a socialist wine, which is to say they use a concerted and united labour-intensive operation to produce a palatable crop of County vintage. I don't believe his winery is unionized but he runs a friendly little shop where he gets a lot of volunteers. If you want to know more about life on Richard's wine ranch, click here.

At the wineries in the fall you'll hear a lot of bird-bangers, explosive devices intended to scare birds away from the grapes on the vines. I mentioned Nicholson Island earlier: across the water I heard a few booms from the island and assumed at first they were bird-bangers. Then I heard a whole series of booms, and realized the bird-bangers I was was hearing were probably taking care of a few birds permanently. I don't know if there are many socialists on the island, but I doubt it.

Shooting the County Vineyards

Today I was shooting pictures down on Long Point in Prince Edward County with my friend Joe. Joe – Jozef to his business card – is a graphic artist but he's really good with a camera. So we're shooting pix for my new book on the county, Wind, Water, Barley & Wine. Joe loves this part of the county because the roads are rough and potholed and he has great opportunities to slip his truck into four-wheel-drive mode and shout "yee-haw" as muddy water cascades over the windshield.

Population here has traditionally been as slim as the layer of soil over the limestone. Thin, to non-existent. But in the new Prince Edward County, the settlers are artisans and vintners and retirees who love the windswept expanses of scrub cedar and Lake Ontario bays. There are pockets of vineyards scattered over the County, with grapes hanging low to be harvested for next year's wine. What interests me is the soil, as it should the serious wine-nogger, for the differences in soil partly determines the taste.

My book views the development of the County through the lens of geology. When I see a vineyard I don't just take a pictures of the grapes and the vines, I take a picture of the soil at its roots. Although all the soil is underlain with limestone, the earth itself varies significantly. In the west of the County, where many of the vineyards are concentrated, the soil is so full of limestone nodules that it resembles ground-up parking lot. Sorry to explain the process in such technical terms. Here on Long Point, also known as Prince Edward Point, there are areas of South Bay Clay where hardly a pebble can be found. Stonefree, they call it. The varieties of the soil contribute to the terroir of the wine, which means that Pinot Noir produced by Shaky Arbour Winery over here will not taste the same as the Pinot Noir bottled by ByeBye Birdie Acres over there.

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Orland French 12 years ago
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Where's this fellow coming from? The Inukshuk is better looking!