Monday, August 12, 2013

Past Deadline: 50 Shades of Brown

Still catching up…here is Past Deadline from July 25/13 published in The Perth Courier.

50 Shades of Brown
Sometimes I am such a geek.
Specifically, I am an MNR geek (Ministry of Natural Resources). I blame my father.
Some of you may have heard/noticed I am involved with the Friends of Murphys Point Park. On Saturday, we took part in 50th anniversary celebrations at Rideau River Provincial Park by hosting a barbecue.
Friends host barbecue at Rideau River.
Friends host barbecue at Rideau River.

Despite the fact Rideau has been our “sister park” for a few years now, I had not been there before. Actually, that’s not exactly true. A kazillion years ago when I was a Carleton journalism student (early 1990s), I was on a ride-along in the winter with a conservation officer and we drove by the park. I believe I was doing an article about poaching.
“That’s Rideau River Provincial Park,” the CO said as we drove by the entrance in the snowy darkness. And that was my big tour of the park.
So I was looking forward to finally getting a better glimpse of this far-off place (near Kemptville). I loaded up the kids and supplies and joined a gaggle of volunteers at the (awesome!) beach and picnic area on Saturday morning.
For the 50th anniversary party there were many activities, including voyageur canoe rides, a visit from the OPP marine unit, programs by Murphys Point staff and a display by Parks Canada, who also brought their mascot, Parka the beaver.
Parka wasn’t the only mascot around, though. Smokey Bear also made a couple of appearances, to which I said, “Smokey Bear! Too coooool! Someone has to take a picture of me with Smokey Bear so I can send it to my dad!”
(At this point the people around me said, “Sure, crazy lady in her 40s. We’ll do whatever you want because you’re just a little bit scary.”)
Yeaaaaah! Smokey Bear!!!
Yeaaaaah! Smokey Bear!!!

Then – as if THAT wasn’t enough – some of the current Rideau River staff showed up wearing vintage park uniforms!
Crazy lady calls excitedly to fellow volunteer/BFF Cindy. “Omigod! Look! They’re wearing our uniforms!”
Indeed, we flashed back to those fabulous early ’90s when the two of us worked as gate attendants at Murphys Point and sported dark brown shorts, beige short-sleeved dress shirts and the lovely baby-poo brown blazers (for those chilly evening shifts).
Good times!
And THEN, as if Smokey Bear and 50 Shades of Brown weren’t enough, the conservation officers arrived!
The whole reason I am the geek that I am (at least on this front) can be attributed to my dad, a retired CO. I have learned a lot from him about natural resources in general and protecting them in particular. “Grampy was a nature cop,” I tell my kids with pride.
I lurked around and name-dropped with the COs for a bit, but they didn’t seem nearly as excited about me being a CO’s daughter as I was (“Did you get a load of the crazy lady? Yeesh!” they probably said on the way home.)
Anyway, the next treat was a canine unit demonstration by Conservation Officer Colin Cotnam from Bancroft and his dog, Tanner. They went through a basic obedience demonstration and then showed off some of Tanner’s investigative skills. He is trained to sniff out a variety of things that hunters and anglers might be trying to hide. Did you know MNR dogs can not only find contraband fish, but they can differentiate several different species, too? That means they won’t go after your minnows, but if you’re hiding too many brook trout, look out!
Conservation Officer Colin Cotnam rewards Tanner for a job well done.
Conservation Officer Colin Cotnam rewards Tanner for a job well done.

That evening I told my dad all about it, of course. Sort of like, you know, an excited kid/crazy lady.
Happy birthday, Rideau River. Thanks for the trip down memory lane!

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