Tweets, shots and roads scholars
An amusing, and slightly annoying, message was thumbed out by Jamie MacDonald via his Twitter account recently. “Giving up my seat on council for this new seat,” typed the North Glengarry Township Deputy Mayor, before the hash tag “never coming back.” Above the missive was a photo of Mr. MacDonald, looking too relaxed and comfortable as he lounged in an incredibly blue idyllic pool, which featured, evidently, a refreshment area.
He wasn’t in Alexandria anymore. He had, like so many other snowbirds, temporarily escaped Old Man Winter by baking in a hot Mexican haven where the only ice around is used to cool drinks.
Now before you say, “Oh no, not another by-election!” let us stress that the Deputy Mayor was joking about “giving up his seat.” He has no intention of stepping down, only a few months being acclaimed to the post. Among Tweeters, the crack about resigning and moving to Mexico elicited a few chuckles, some pangs of jealousy and a chorus of “It must be nice...”
Many of us, if we were fortunate enough to be visiting a warmer clime, would share the tanned politician’s sentiments, and would relish a permanent perch in the surf. But, meanwhile, back in blustery wind-chilled Glengarry, we prepare to tough out another five weeks of Winter.
When it comes to predicting the unofficial arrival of Spring, we not need rely on that scientific prognosticator, the Ground Hog. Every year, by mid-March, there is light at the end of the snow-clogged tunnel, so to speak.
Since a southern sojourn is not in our immediate future, we must carry on, roll with whatever punches Mother Nature delivers and make the most of our longest season.
Nature lovers -- and everyone loves nature -- are in their element because conditions are perfect at this time of year to spot shy wildlife. For example, deer and hare are easy to track on a snow-covered forest floor. Many fauna fans have taken to “shooting” forest creatures with remote-controlled cameras that are activated when an animal approaches. These candid photos demonstrate that we have no idea what the animals are up to and remind us of the diversity of the critters with which we share this special place.
Of course, everyone can help our fine-feathered friends, and improve viewing opportunities, by maintaining bird feeders. One of the most popular passions, bird-watching is a very low-impact activity, but some of the good seed can be pricey.
Fortunately, when it comes to the cost of the basics, the last few months have been more bearable than past cold snaps thanks to a rare plunge in fuel prices. It is now cheaper to heat the house, drive a car and play with the ever-growing assortment of winter toys on the market. One person’s passion is another person’s pain in the ear.
Two simple words can strike fear into the hearts of rural people seeking the peace and quiet of the country -- ATV trail.
In North Glengarry, a barrier is being erected to keep motorized vehicles off the trail system.
In the meantime, in South Glengarry, the township has given the green light to the Glendaler’s Winter Sports Club to a new trail near Summerstown. The organization stresses that its members are responsible and law-abiding. Plus, it is difficult to block anyone from using a road allowance, since it is a public highway. Municipalities feel secure in adopting this position because it is based on the advice of Ontario lawyer W.D. “Rusty” Russell, who is an expert on all things road-relat
ed. Municipal officials regularly refer to Russell on Roads Second Edition, a 320-page “pleasant and easy-to-read guide,” which costs $105, and is no doubt worth every penny.
Anybody who drives in these parts knows that we must expect the unexpected when we take to the highway. The proximity of snowmobile trails to public routes can be unnerving, especially at night, when you see a single light zipping alongside a steady stream of traffic.
And then there is the ever-changing weather. To date, the number of “snow days” has been few, compared to the old days when we experienced real winters. The decision to cancel school bus service is not taken lightly, points out Student Transportation of Eastern Ontario, which operates approximately 750 school vehicles, which transport approximately 32,000 students across districts in Eastern Ontario. Forecasts and information from bus drivers in 18 zones across the district are used to make the call.
The STEO notes that with such a large area, it’s not unusual for weather to be bad in some parts of the jurisdiction, and not in others. Boards cancel busing in problem areas, or areas where weather is expected to pose difficulty for bus drivers by the time they pick up students for the return trip home. This means buses can be cancelled in all 18 zones, or cancelled in as few as one, when conditions warrant. Did you know that fog can also affect bus service? STEO notes, “Fog greatly increases the risk that motorists may collide with a stopped vehicle or with a student in the process of crossing a road to board the bus. Consequently, bus drivers have been instructed not to stop in fog patches where visibility is significantly reduced. If a student is not picked up due to foggy conditions, the bus driver will provide the names of those students to the school principal upon arrival at the school.”
You may be saying to yourself, “Those wimps cancel the bus at the first sign of a flake.” While people may get frustrated if roads in their area are fine, Mother Nature is fickle. It can be sunny at your house and dreadful on the next concession. And once the decision is made to run, it cannot be reversed if the entire district is hit by a blizzard. It is always best to err on the side of caution. The same rule of thumb applies to other things, such as tweeting.