The Wellness Almanac is a new, biweekly column that aims to cultivate wellness, resilience and a sense of place with Pemberton stories.
Skunk cabbage. Trumpeter swans. Hardy chives in the garden. The first bulbs peeking up. Cougar sightings. Dog poo. This is spring in Pemberton.
For the last 12 years, Veronica Woodruff of Stewardship Pemberton has been noting the date of the first song of the pacific chorus frog. “Why this is important to me, I am not sure,” she said. “But perhaps in 2064 the pacific chorus frogs are calling in February which may tell a story of localized climate warming.”
This year, Woodruff noted their first “glee clubbing” during Earth Hour, on March 29. Right on time.
“I love their sound and have visited many local wetlands just after dark to lie down and be enveloped in the serenade. It takes a few minutes of lying still because they stop calling when you first show up. You just have to be patient.”
Riverside Wetland and the Urdal-Fraser Connector wetland are great places to take in their chorus.
Woodruff’s river-watching counterpart at the Lil’wat Nation is Maxine Joseph-Bruce.
Involved in fisheries work since 1990, Joseph-Bruce is the fisheries manager for the Lil’wat Nation.
For the better part of March, her team undertook a flood mitigation project on the Birkenhead River in advance of the freshet, a sweet-sounding word for the spring thaw, which in these parts isn’t always so innocuous.
“The funds from AANDC (Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development) were March 31st sensitive,” said Joseph-Bruce. “But with all our above and beyond efforts the project was complete. We joined our efforts in-house with the public works department supported by our capital projects manager and we worked side by side with the Pemberton Valley Dyking District. It was a fantastic experience for me to be working with the engineers, biologists and technicians in moving this project forward. Everyone put their best into the project.”
Up Valley, where spring’s thawing effect takes longer to reach, farmer Michelle Beks is celebrating the little signs that mean winter has lost its grip — mud, calves, trucks shipping their precious seed potato cargo south and bike riders. I thought the 50 robins that played worm-sentry on my front lawn the other day were the real harbingers of the season, but Beks sets me straight: “I have seen robins around here in the middle of January. The real bird of spring, for me, is the swan.”
Local birdwatcher, John Tschopp, captured some stellar images of these great, big flying machines on Pemberton’s migratory flyway. “Wherever you are in the valley, you can see and hear the trumpeter swans on their way north,” he said. “The Pemberton Valley seems to be a popular stop for them. Last year’s potato fields and some fallow grain fields present a tasty snack along the way.”
There are lots of sexy stories keeping the neighbourhood buzzing right now — from the long-awaited announcement of the Pemberton Music Festival lineup, to a successful fundraiser for the BMX Track, to the New York magazine article that rated Pemberton as one of its top picks for a spring travel rural getaway.
But it’s the geekier news of frogs and mud and swans that I want to hold space for, for a moment. It’s in noticing these things that we find ourselves home. As Susan Sontag said, “It’s all about paying attention. Attention is vitality. It connects you with others.”
Spring is a fresh start. Like a new column. So that’s where we begin.
After 13 years and almost 240,000 words, Grace Chadsey has laid down her quill as the Pemberton correspondent. We’ve invited her to join TheWellnessAlmanac.com—not to round up all the local events and happenings — but to write about anything she wants. Here’s hoping.
TheWellnessAlmanac.com is curated by Lisa Richardson for the Winds of Change. Comments, questions and contributions are welcome at TheWellnessAlmanac@gmail.com.