Climate Change At The Cottage


Ahh now this was a great summer day, warm, but not too warm, cool, but not too cool. The sun was shining, a breeze out of the north that wasn’t unbearable, a fine day at the camp. I gave one of my neighbors a helping hand this afternoon with the preliminary construction of a new deck and ended the day with a nice supper.

Today was one of those delightful summer days when your usual pain in the butt worries seemed to disappear like old snow on the ground in April. You could easily forget about things today, particularly things like global warming, or global climate change….but just because you could forget about them doesn’t mean I did. Nope. I got your back. While you were bombing around the lake on your jet ski, I was thinking about, among other things, climate change and it’s affects on cottagers.

I’m like that….in between driving nails into my buddies deck I was considering the impact of higher lake levels on the shoreline.

Now I am not going to try and convince you that I am some kind of global warming expert, Good God..as my disclaimer in the left hand sidebar of this blog says, “I am not an expert in anything” However, I do give some stuff some consideration from time to time, and one of the things I consider is the affect of changing weather patterns.

As I mentioned, it’s easy to get lulled into the peaceful feelings of a day like today, easy for you and I to forget that the weather is much more dramatic these days and things can change pretty quick. Like lake water levels.

I believe that these days you are not thinking too hard if you build a house or build a cottage too close to a lake, or on a spot that is low, close to the water level, because chances are, it’s gonna get higher…it might eventually get lower, but first…well…it’s gonna get higher.

I found that out the hard way last year when I had some landscaping done at the cottage. A rock wall along the shoreline that seemed almost too high in the beginning, became obviously too low about two weeks later when the water rose over it and washed away a bunch of topsoil…just like that….and all you and I could do, was watch it go.

There is no way to stop the water when it is rising like that, at best, you can load the boat with as many pairs of animals as you can find, throw in some beer and the family, and sit and wait to see what happens.

In our case, the rain eventually stopped, but it was touch and go for a few days. It was particularly touch and go when we discovered that two of the animals I had taken aboard the ark were coyotes…but I am digressing…..

Here is a picture of our shoreline with the water coming up. Last fall it was over the top of this wall and well up on the lawn.

Whew…I am going on and on here with no obvious point….what else is new eh? I guess my point is, when you are building or repairing your cottage, or you are landscaping, or considering cutting down some trees or constructing a wharf, it behooves you, (I love saying it behooves you) It behooves you to keep in mind that things change, and to consider what the place might look like in the face of very high winds or very high water.

I know it looks good right now, all sunshine and lollipops and sunflowers, but what about in November with the autumn rains, or in the Spring when the ice breaks up. What would be affected if the water rose really really really high? What would be blown around or knocked down if a hurricane struck, what would burn if a wildfire started in the woods close to your cottage.

Essentially I am talking about disaster planning for cottagers, well anyone for that matter, but this is called The Cottage Chronicles.

It’s a little like a colonscopy, better to do it now than wait until it’s too late. This is a good time to have a look around your place, document what you see as potential issues in the event of the three things I mentioned, water, wind or fire.

Once you’ve documented it, written it down, go over the issues you found, and consider what you might be able to do to minimize the consequences.

Perhaps more plants and small trees, on the shoreline will help to hold the soil back and act as a windbreak in a big storm. Evergreen trees, like spruce or fir are particularly good windbreaks and provide protection from the wind, as well as privacy from the neighbors if they are planted fairly close together and are not too tall.

Placing more rocks along the shoreline might also help in high water and wind situations.

Cutting down any trees that are becoming too tall that could fall on your camp is another premptive strike you can make.

Cutting or removing brush or grass around the cottage is always good for helping to keep fires from spreading to the cottage. (fireproof metal or slate roofs are also comforting in a forest fire situation in cottage country)

Keeping a working garden hose with lots of length at the ready at all times is helpful if a small fire gets out of hand, however, remember that in a forest fire, chances are the power will be cut, so if you depend on an electric pump for water, you won’t have any.

Speaking of power, take a look at your incoming power lines and have the power company remove any trees that might cause a problem in high winds. Do it now, before a storm blows them over on top of the power lines. I keep saying I am going to do this at the camp, and keep putting it off, but this is an obvious case of do as I say, not as I do….

I don’t need to tell you this stuff. Good Lord, there is enough material available on the internet, magazines, books, government publications, you name it. I am just reminding you that now is as good a time as any to take a look around and see what you can do to protect what’s yours in the event of a natural disaster, i.e. extreme weather events.

So…what have you done so far?

Here are some links to some resources and items that you might find interesting or helpful.

Marion Koshland Science Museum – Global Warming Facts and Our Future

Is Your Family Prepared – Get Prepared Canadian Government site.

Flood Preparedness

Homeowners – Firewise Great resource on protecting your home from wildfires.

When All Hell Breaks Loose: Stuff You Need To Survive When Disaster Strikes

Survivor Emergency Kit-4 Person, Emergency Zone brand, Disaster Survival Kit, 72 Hour Kit

First Aid Kit With Hard Case- 326 pcs- First Aid Complete Care Kit – Exceeds OSHA & ANSI Guidelines – Ideal for the Workplace – Disaster Preparedness (Color Red)

First Alert Heavy Duty Fire Extinguisher

Speaking of wildfires I think it’s time we lightened the mood a bit with a musical interlude, let’s listen to Michael Martin Murphy and his song, “Wildfire”

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