Canada. Wildfires, waterways. Episode 5.
(A fragment from the Canadian book of E. Kolyer about the woods, the fires, floods and other disasters - and how to resist to them) - Not really - that pleasantly smell of
, isn`t that so? - told Lilian when wind informed us of a smell from bogs.
Ya I like to call things by their proper names and, having wrinkled a nose, grumbled:
- Stinks, as from a garbage can.
All shoaled course of a stream was covered with faded seaweed in various stages of decomposition mixed up with marsh dirt and the decaying corpses of animals who died in the bog during unsuccessful attempt to reach a puddle of stagnant water to satisfy thirst.
Though the grass did not rise yet which - what cattle from farms already wandered here, pinching from time to time a rank and Vick, violently turning green in the wood at a stream. And I thought: “Such awful situation will last until each acre of a rotten surface of bogs does not become covered with again fresh cool water“.
- What to do to us the hell to return water on bogs and to fill the dried-up lakes? - on the developed habit about everything to consult on Lilian, I asked.
Often I got from it reasonable advice, but this time it only shook the head:
- I do not know.
all attention of Lilian concentrated the Previous twenty minutes on repair of boots of the son, and she could not think of anything, except the work. The boy always ran with wet legs as he endlessly pottered in pools and on shoal in a stream.
Boots are not intended for similar occupations at all, and now threads in seams rotted through, and soles lagged behind top. After attempts to repair shoes Lilian put away a needle and threads in the working box and, having looked with regret at the collapsed footwear, told:
- I will try to manufacture a skin of a deer and then I will make of it for Vizi moccasins.
the Blouse and a skirt gave way to overalls again. Lilian called him trousers, but for me the working overalls remained working overalls as there call it. The overalls - or otherwise “trousers“ - did not go Lilian. In a skirt and a blouse it looked (and has to be) much more womanly. However I had to agree that in a skirt not really - that is convenient to ride a horse. “Well, - I solved, - when Lilian goes where - nibud astride, let puts on overalls if it is pleasant to her“.
Days five we wandered as Roma, just to look what opportunities that part of the district where we acquired the right to place traps has. Traces of animals from now on - our tracks, horses - our transport, and instead of a roof - tent.
Then any traces were for us a riddle as we did not know from where and where they conduct. We followed in the tracks and eventually came to some hollow overgrown with a grass or to small an ozerka.
If tended day to evening, we left horses to be grazed on a leash, and pitched tent for the night. And if, judging by the provision of the sun, there were two more or three o`clock in the afternoon, we mentally noted this luzhok or ozerko, and darted about on the wood in search of traces again as a hound in search of a smell of an animal. There were enough traces.
In four days we proceeded huge spaces, learned many places unknown rest to none of white people. It was difficult to call results of our supervision promising.
- In any case we will grow rich not so soon, - I shared the fears with Lilian. We found
two dozens beaver dams without beavers. Found several honeycombs or thousands of acres half of the dried smelly bogs. If occasionally also came across which - where a muskrat trace, it is hardly possible to count on the standing production in our traps as for mass reproduction of muskrats water which was not in this region is necessary.
We saw a set of the dammed lakes (once there too there were beaver dams), alas, almost completely dried up. Water was required to raise the level of lakes to their former coast.
That`s all that we had, except a boundless thicket of the woods, and here on what we could build the hopes for relative safety and relative wellbeing. If some person had
more modest opportunities at the introduction in new life, I would not like to appear on its place.
If water returned to bogs and lakes, the quantity of muskrats and other fur animals quickly would increase.
Despite confidence that sometime we will return beavers to a stream Meldram, any of us did not know how to make it.
of Beavers cannot be bought at auction as a horse or a cow. there is no
As far as we know, beavers in Chilkotin and few in all British Columbia at all.
for a while was necessary to postpone care of beavers and to deal with an issue of how to fill with water at least one or two boggy courses on which the water remains timidly streamed. Because life will not run low where there are necessary conditions for existence and reproduction of ordinary inhabitants of a wild land.
in the presence of these conditions, at observance at least of the most elementary principles of animal protection it is possible to be sure - the Nature will not be in debt!...
In 1931 paid about eighty cents for a skin of a muskrat. If it was succeeded to irrigate the dried bogs, here it would be possible to breed hundreds of muskrats, but in a present condition of a bog for anybody were not of practical value.
In the nature all live exists at the expense of other animals or plants. If boggy places of this edge were filled with water again, the seeds and tubers of water plants which remained in the soil would serve as food for muskrats, waterfowl and fishes. These last would become in turn a bait for minks, otters and other predators which would come in search of production here. If the skin of a muskrat was estimated only in vosmidesit cents, then the skin of a mink cost up to twenty dollars.
the Essence is in creating necessary conditions for existence of one of animal species, and these animals would become food for others.
However is not simple to realize reasonings.
We faced an imperative need to resolve these issues.
the Key to their decision were beaver dams. than
at the end of each strip of the boggy soil, it be longer or shorter, there was a beaver dam. In many hollows of almost dried up lakes still were seen in water of the dwelling of beavers. Though in Meldram - Shout half-century or about that was not beavers, the remains of their dams and a hatok demonstrated that once there was in all beauty sixty-pound handsome whose patience and skill created the constructions not only which changed the course of a stream, but also provided it full-water content.
To repair beaver dams and again to make the barren country rich!. To put gate where the gap gaped, to bridle a stream as his beavers once bridled! To make everything that water flooded the drying bogs again! Not to allow it to spread on droplets and to be lost in the river!
I not only we were vitally interested in a deep stream. That who lived below, in the valley as well as to us, water was necessary. And the running low water resources could not satisfy them.
Newcomers from Asia became the first for whom stream water was necessary. In the middle of the XIX century they appeared with picks and shovels here, and dug out ditches to dewater a stream to sandy terraces slightly above the river Fraser, on six miles to the south of that place where the stream falls into it.
Digging sand, Chinese extracted placer gold on a surface. To wash out it and to separate gold from sand, the huge amount of water was required. The anonymous stream located to the north was the next water tank.
of Half-dozen of years all water of a stream flew on the ditch dug by Chinese. In that place where they conducted the works, water passed through flushing trays, carrying away with itself dirt and leaving precious metal in trays.
Chinese scooped it wooden spoons, baged from a buckskin and earthed bags that no thief - whether white, red-skinned - could steal them.
Part of bags still lies in the earth as the great number of gold diggers died of smallpox, and with them also the secret of buried gold died.
Eventually a placer were exhausted, and those Chinese who were not touched by smallpox went to look for gold to other regions.
Then the stream was found by Europeans - their attention was drawn by the narrow valley located at its mouth. The soil which is washed away here from hills was fertile and could yield a good harvest of vegetables and fruit. And if to plow it, then horses can grow up a grass on a forage and cereals.
is several miles closer to stream sources where hills gave way to an extensive plateau, thousands of acres of a nekoshenny grass were stretched. It was possible to take control of the earth gratuitously. The deep stream all the year round supplied with water the channels leading to crops. Again a stream Meldram gave the waters to people, and approximately in 1860 the foundation to the cattle breeding prospering still was laid here.
In the country which four months in a year is covered by a snow layer not less than three feet thick a solid reserve of hay in sheds or under a canopy is also necessary for the winter for cattle as spring, summer and autumn pastures. Practical opportunities of a farm are defined by the capacity of constructions for hay storage in the winter when the cattle cannot be on pastures.
the Soil in the valley is fertile - and it is enough to provide with a winter forage so many horses and cows how many it could be grazed on summer pastures, without having exhausted them. But Meldram - Shout is located in “Sukhoi“ of part of British Columbia where it is not enough to find the free earth for crops.
Is necessary still water.
In 1860 - m to year and in the previous decades the stream was deep. Excess of water “resulted“ because that within centuries many generations of beavers worked on that the stream did not shoal.
With disappearance of the last beaver the level of a stream began to decrease, but some years later the farmers who lodged in the valley noticed that water gradually decreases. And when the stream considerably shoaled and in the summer already there was hardly enough water to irrigate one acre of the soil where it was irrigated half-dozens of acres earlier, nobody could diagnose the misfortune reason, especially find from it medicine.
The etiology consisted in decrease in level of lakes and drying of the bogs surrounding them. They were a source and a reserve of all water which flew in streams and then merged with the river.
Eternal ice of mountains fed summer streams. And if glaciers slip to the ocean and disappeared, then also mountain streams would disappear.
At sources Meldram is not present glaciers - but while there lived beavers, the stream was full of strength. And only with disappearance of the last colony of beavers symptoms of an illness appeared.
Hurrying to be ahead of each other in hunting for beavers, both white and Indians broke dams, in holes put traps, knowing that the most careful beaver will make the way in the dark to a hole to repair it and to prevent leak of precious water.
Any fur animal so easily is not caught in traps as a beaver. He cannot hide the residence - the builder of dams is given by fruits of his work.
The first task which the beaver in fight for existence has to solve - to keep water. And he is not able to do it, without having left obvious marks of the work.
of the Construction of a beaver always specified where to look for it. For the last decade the 19th century at streams and lakes of this country visited many alien hunters who were greedy looking for with traps in hands eloquent signs of presence of beavers.
At a stream Meldram destruction of beavers went quickly and easily. Reservations of big Indian tribes were at distance of only two days of traveling from a stream. Incited by greed of white dealers in furs, Indians combed the district from sources to the mouth of a stream in search of svezhesvalenny trees - certificates that nearby there live beavers.
Indians were not the only hunters to profit the production remains. White did not miss too any animal whose skin “turned“ into money.
But soon Indians and white which ransacked in search of furs ceased to appear in local places - beavers died … the Stream Meldram ate
not only at the expense of the ponds created by beavers but also at the expense of natural lakes. He received from them considerable replenishment when the level of lakes rose. When beavers disappeared, and the dams created by them ceased to constrain water, the stream came to such low condition that it threatened with a shallowing of irrigation canals.
Then farmers began to think of use of lakes near stream sources. From reflections passed to business - and soon from lakes to fields the channels which considerably reduced water level were dug. It turned out on a proverb: “The thief stole a bludgeon from the thief“.
But beaver dams dried up. Now water did not filter continuously through dams, filling up lakes at that time year when a lot of moisture evaporates. And just at this time water is plentifully spent for watering of crops. Through diversion channels from lakes there was such amount of water that its expense in summer months was not covered by annual replenishment during thawing and rains.
the Question of shortage of water rose before people with all sharpness.
Fall of 1926 when I for the first time saw the valley, only six or seven farms settled down there, and preparation of a winter forage for cattle entirely depended on an amount of water in channels. But only the owner of the main channel going from the lake to the valley had enough water to provide the first shoots of a lucerne. About watering of the second shoots there could not be also a speech any more.
The care of the government was expressed that the department of use of water resources of department of land and forest grounds sent the officials for inspection of a situation. They measured the size of lakes, wrote down figures in the notebooks - and left.
A department continued to raise a rent for the right to use nonexistent water.
Enough dams which could be used for accumulation of water stocks remained, but practical activities were required to repair though some of beaver dams and to raise water level in dams. Cattle-farmers, apparently, were so busy with disputes on the disappeared water that they did not have enough time to think of its return to the run low reservoirs!
It was the situation in Meldram - Shout that June day when we surveyed this marshland to learn that we will be able to receive from it. And it was difficult for us to get off thought that hardly there was an opportunity to return to the Nature though a particle of with what it was rich in days of the childhood of Lala.
- First of all we have to repair dams and turn bogs into lakes, - Lilian told.
- And how you expect to make it if we are not met requirements by department of use of water resources and cattle-farmers? - I objected. Lilian`s
was silent. It, as well as me, it is well known that we will not be able neither to take away, nor to block a stream while cattle-farmers in the valley lack water. If we make it, then we will receive a heap of troubles.
Now after we ransacked five days astride horses on the woods and bogs in search of traces and did not find any signs of fur animals, excepting coyotes - and traces of coyotes were everywhere - I generalized results of our supervision, having declared: “It is hopeless“.
Lilian looked in a fire flame. Povinuyas to a sudden rush, she faced me directly and quietly told:
- Eric, I wish nevermore to hear from you the word “hopelessly“. We are deprived of much in this wild solitude. But we are not able to afford to lose hope.
The translation from English under A. Ryabokon`s edition