Roll out those lazy, crazy, hazy days of summer…
As we approach the end of summer, once again the skies are covered in a smoky haze as so much of British Columbia is on fire, as well as the Yukon and the Northwest Territories.
It is heartbreaking to watch the devastation and destruction on TV as communities disappear before our eyes.
These wildfires are now an annual summer event with this year’s inferno being the worst in B.C.’s history.
Summer isn’t fun anymore.
I remember when summer was fun and I would look forward to it.
On the last day of school, we would receive a free ticket to Playland inside our final report card. Thoughts of endless rides on the famous wooden roller coaster filled me with joyful anticipation.
I would play outside all day with my neighbourhood friends, riding my bike, playing hopscotch and roller skating, with my key hanging from a string around my neck.
I didn’t wear a bike helmet or sun hat or protective sunscreen which didn’t even exist. I came home when I was hungry then darted back outside for more spontaneous fun.
As the sun set, I would return home, sated with happiness and tumble into bed with the knowledge that tomorrow would bring another glorious summer day.
Those days are gone.
I now feel dread as I know what to expect during these summer months.
Apart from fires, we are witnessing floods and tornadoes.
Mother Nature is very unhappy with us and she is giving us a strong message all in the name of climate change.
Climate change. Global warming. Carbon footprint.
That’s all we hear about now, day after day. And it’s mostly humans who are responsible.
I am guilty as charged as I drive a car, use gas and electricity, fly on airplanes and now have recently left Vancouver on a ship to Alaska. Although it was only a small ship with approximately 400 passengers, I am still part of the problem.
Luckily, we were able to go where the big ships couldn’t so I was able to see how global warming is affecting Alaska.
To my delight, it wasn’t or certainly didn’t appear to be.
And the proof was when I climbed into a Zodiac with my adventure host and got close and personal with the largest tidewater glacier in North America; namely the Hubbard Glacier.
A glacier is a river of ice and Hubbard Glacier is one of the few glaciers in the world that is actually advancing and thickening, despite the impacts of climate change. Scientists theorize that this is due to the presence of a very thick moraine, or rocky bed at the bottom of the glacier which insulates its base, in combination with the more than 200 inches of snow received annually.
Most glaciers in the world are receding.
This majestic glacier spans 12 kilometres at its face and is 122 kilometres long. It is a humbling, powerful and beautiful sight which took my breath away. Ice the colour of aquamarine. A frozen carpet of awe-inspiring natural beauty.
We couldn’t get too close though due to the calving where the glacier sheds tons of ice in fits and spurts, each release accompanied by a sound like thunder. The shards of “glass” act like shrapnel and the resultant displacement waves rocked our Zodiac.
An exhilarating experience.
The Canadian poet Robert Service summed up my Alaskan journey: It’s the beauty that thrills me with wonder, it’s the stillness that fills me with peace.
For a while, I felt peaceful and rekindled my love affair with summer.
April Lewis writes monthly for the Peace Arch News.