Aside on the discharges

Like a dog with his teeth on your ankle, or a shark with his mouth on your arm, I’ve been going on about environmental questions these last few days. I wonder what got me going?

The Humber River (whose mouth is visible from the High Doganate) has this morning strewn mud into Humber Bay. A long, long (perhaps four miles long) tongue of brown extends into Lake Ontario. Or rather, it consists of light sand beiges, forming gorgeous contrasts with the surrounding waters, sunlit in their greenish aquatic blues.

Perhaps last night’s glorious thunderstorm churned the river waters, perhaps it was some other cause. My point is only that the effect, in irregular ribbons of colour (including streaks of turquoise, set off against a sublime patch of “cobalt violet,” edging into mauve), is so endearing. Light shifts and deflections, through low cotton clouds, change the emphasis, moment to moment, for the instruction of anyone who may happen to be watching — which may be no one, or just me.

Urban pollution may also produce such beautiful arrays — as Whistler so adeptly caught in his harbour scenes. We ought to pause, and appreciate what we have, for it takes the manufacturers upstream in Hamilton (and cities like) a lot of work and money to favour us in this way.

And some of the most spectacular sights emerge directly from the smokestacks. I think back on Corner Brook, for instance, where the purest shining white issued forth, right upon noon, in a magnificently dense billowing cloud, reflecting silver, from the beloved paper mill — filling the small basin of the town with the deliciously humorous scent of sulphur, asafoetida, hing. It left me giddy in admiration.

How sad, to be deprived of such spectacles; yet all the beauties of this world are transient, and all infused with that earthly sense of loss that turns our hearts and minds to Heaven.