It was a day like any other day of my childhood summers; quick breakfast,clothes on and then running out the door to do the morning rounds of the yard.Checking to see where all the salamanders and toads had settled for the night was always the first thing on my mind,since I found both creatures so interesting.
Next up was a stop in the garden to quickly raid the raspberries or pea patch if it was the season-quickly because if mom caught us eating the goods meant to freeze for fall there would be trouble! Our garden wasn’t for looks,it was for necessity.
As I headed off to the edge of the garden to go down to the creek, I stopped to pull the green bits out of what was then called “Indian Paintbrush” growing in the ditch, sucking what little nectar a butterfly would find hard to release, with relish.
I loved our road.
At that time there were only a few homes besides ours,all on acreage and surrounded by lovely forests full of kinnickinnick, huckleberries, and native plants I’d weave into vines to make crowns for my hair. Free time in summer was spent looking for agates on the road, riding bikes all over and for me, playing at the creek.
It was on the far bank of the creek where I was exploring that I saw it. A flower unlike anything I had ever seen before anywhere in the forests around our house, or camping in the bush. To a young girl growing up in an area like this, it seemed alien and exotic in comparison to the daisies and Indian paintbrush so common elsewhere.
I sat there for a while, completely in awe. I looked around and could see no others. Where did this flower come from? How did it get here? So many questions for a young girl with no answers.
And then I picked it.
It was wilting even before I could get it home to a glass of water and completely limp shortly afterwards. I had killed it.
I recall very clearly going back and searching the forest floor all around the creek banks on both sides, then going around the forest in the back yard in my desperation to find another, but there were none. I was devastated in the knowledge of what I had willingly, without thought,done.
And for the rest of my years growing up in my childhood home, I never saw another flower like it. Even as an adult visiting home I have looked,although the creek is all but gone now and there are more homes in place of the forests of my youth- to no avail.
I know now, it was a native orchid often found in boreal forests and sub-alpine/alpine meadows in the province, called Calypso Bulbosa, or the Fairy Slipper orchid. I’ve seen them hiking in Whistler and around Manning Park but apparently I picked the only one that somehow found its way to the creek by my yard.
Even as a woman in my forties, I’ll never forget the feeling of regret of my action. I can’t go back and unpick that flower, but I can apply what I learned in this stark lesson elsewhere. Sadly, I don’t often see that need to reflect in government.
They say hindsight is 20/20- and perhaps it is, but it only serves a purpose if you learn and act accordingly. Otherwise it’s about as useful as smoke in the wind.
For example, the housing and affordability crisis in Vancouver. While it’s still making the news, it’s anything but a new problem. Looking back there have been signs and complaints years for years but to what result? Not much until it now-again-makes the news and politicians muse solutions,spurred only act when public outrage reaches a level that can’t be ignored.
In Delta, farmland is once again under threat of expropriation in a time when drought and climate change is threatening crops elsewhere,creating higher prices in supermarket for many products. Looking back, this isn’t new either, yet I can foresee the day when politicians look back and go:”What the hell were we thinking??” Once that land is gone, it’s gone. Do we want to risk our food security at a local level?
Surrey is still, rampantly deforesting to build and there are stories popping up now of new homes on ALR land approved without due process. The pressures of phenomenal growth without keeping pace with vital social infrastructure is starting to show in ongoing issues around the city. Roads are in crumbles in many areas, yet this has been known and allowed willingly to fester for years. Playing catch-up is never a fun game when it comes to a community.
Forest fires last year were a massive concern, but has the province learned anything from past events? Have forest communities been built differently, more safely? Is scrub being removed, controlled burns being conducted,and are crews sent out early and aggressively enough? According to some people I’ve talked to, no. Communities need to be asking why.
And Site C, the project that I don’t just believe is wrong, I know it’s wrong. 12,000 years of human history gone, farmland, First Nations treaty lands and an economic nightmare that will weigh on my childrens children.
It’s as much about learning from our past, as it is, taking care of the basics. I don’t like the words, shoulda, woulda, coulda….Sometimes you have to take a break, look at what you know and where you have been, so you can figure out the best way forward, for everyone.
Because although I believe it is never too late to change course and head in the right direction, it’s equally true that sometimes you only get one opportunity to really get it right.
And do you really want to take that chance?
“In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing. The worst thing you can do is nothing.”~ Theodore Roosevelt