Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Cloudy Day in the Bay

After breakfast this morning, and before class began, we drove to the top of a hill so we could look out onto the Bay of Fundy.  It was the first time we could see a horizon line, and discern the sea from the sky.  

We had high hopes that the clouds would break apart, and we would see sunlight today, but it remained cloudy all day.  It didn't rain, and it wasn't foggy, so the views were different from the day before.  

Today, I sat near the front of classroom so I could hear the instructor better, hoping it would help me stay focused during the technical parts of the presentation.  I was doing pretty well until the coffee break when they supplied warm sticky buns from the bakery across the street.  They were delicious, but even coffee can't counteract the sleepy power of sugar coated pastry.  

During our sticky bun break, I swapped insect stories with a fish biologist from Manitoba.  She shared the horrors of biting black flies at her research station, and I tried to explain the misery of chiggers.  Wouldn't it be wonderful to live in the world without having ever heard of chiggers?!  Over lunch, a consultant from Nova Scotia explained the trials of trying to do research on tidal flats when the tides catch him unawares and washes all his gear away, and I tried to explain having to work into the wee hours catching bats in nets.  People are doing strange things all over the world.   

Fortunately, part of the day was spent outside looking at a stream restoration project.  Finally, we were getting to see real examples of the practices we've been hearing about.  Because the stream project was on a golf course, the entire class had to wear hard hats to protect us from golf balls.   

This might make sense if there were actually people playing golf at the course, but they didn't have a single golfer, and didn't expect any, since it's the off season.  The hard hats were some crazy park regulation meant to protect visitors.  Surely golfers don't have to wear them?!  No wonder they don't have any customers!  But, it's nice to know that other countries besides my own can take safety to such extremes. 

Growing along the stream banks were these lovely shrubs with bright red berries.  I think it's a type of Viburnum, but it's not a species I'm familiar with.  In our class, besides myself and my two coworkers, there are two other Americans, but these guys are from Arkansas.  As I was admiring the red berries on the bush, one of the Arkansas guys walks up and picks some of the berries and starts to eat them.  I asked him if he knew if they were edible, and he said someone told him they were cranberries.  Uh, those are not cranberries!  Maybe you shouldn't be eating them?   If you hear of an international incident that involves the unexplained death of an Arkansas man in New Brunswick, you'll know what happened!  

While there aren't cranberry shrubs growing on the golf course, there are lots of apple trees.  All sorts of apples - green ones, tiny ones, red one, small pink ones.  This must be a great climate for apples, because they grown along the roadsides and stream banks.  

Before our field visit, we were given some background information about the stream restoration on the golf course, and one of the challenges of the project was that the top soil was contaminated with arsenic, lead, and other heavy metals from the years of chemicals used on the golf course turf.  As the entire class is picking and eating apples from the trees on the course, I asked if anyone was uncomfortable eating fruit from a place that we were told had contaminated soil.  Everyone just shrugged and kept munching their apples.  One guy who seemed to know a lot about apples, said all old apple orchards have soil with arsenic and lead, because they used so much pesticides, and that it's an environmental concern.  Great.  Not to be left out, I tried a few bites of apple myself.  My Arkansas friend said I shouldn't worry since we would get a stomach ache before we got arsenic poisoning.  I wonder if he will be able to tell arsenic stomach ache from "cranberry" poisoning?   

After class, with our remaining day light (if you can call it that), we headed into the national park and hiked down as short trail to a beach.  

The beaches are course red sand and small gravel, and they are littered with snail shells and sea weed.  

We hiked along the top of the cliffs to see the bay from above, and watched the tide take over the beach we walked only moments before.  

Even with all the hiking, I don't think I exercised enough to earn the seafood casserole that I had for dinner, since a seafood casserole is a giant pastry topped pot pie filled with a creamy sauce, shrimp, lobster, and scallops, and served with a baked potato, coleslaw, and a tall beer. 

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