The hint of autumn was unmistakable as the first few leaves began to fall from the oaks. Which means it is time to put the garden away for the winter. (Well, this is Victoria so winter is used loosely.)

I am actually just a maintenance gardener. I know very little about plants and soil and such like. I trim things to make it easier to get under them and I edge beds because it can reduce the amount of grass I have to pick out of the plants we actually like.

Today I was cleaning out a rockery which had not seen a spade or a hoe in thirty years. And the sad truth is that the dirt itself has lost the pungent, loamy, deeply organic scent and feel that good dirt needs. It is now just old, dead dirt like you find in a school yard.

Raking out a decades’ worth of leaves (just dry and dead, Garry Oak leaves have very little to give back to the soil) and breaking up the hard till dirt I realized that there would have to be the topsoil and manure mix dropped on the rockery (and most of the other dirt on the property). Which is hard, but pleasing work. Now to find a cheap or free wheel barrow. I suspect I can get my landlord to buy a yard to three of top soil if I agree to spread it and dig it in.

We are a couple of days away from what looks to be a PQ victory. As I pulled grass I wondered why I am so entirely indifferent to what would seem to be a potential end to a certain sort of Canada. Indeed, I am rather looking forward to Pauline and, with luck, the conditions for a successful referendum.

The sort of Canada in which Quebec’s departure is somehow horrific long since passed. Now, for much of English Canada, Quebec is an expensive and rather annoying reminder of just how badly wrong we managed to get any number of things.

Somehow, to please Quebec, we dropped such English identity as we had. And, somehow, to please Quebec, we insisted on pretending to be a bilingual country for forty years.  And, to – mainly – please Quebec we kept transferring money from the productive provinces to the less so. And to keep Quebec (and Ontario) farmers happy we have Milk Boards. And so on.

Has it worked? Well, Quebec is so happy it is about to elect a separatist government.

If you take care of a garden, in a few years, it will reward you with beauty. If you take care of Quebec, in a few years, it will demand a raise.

Adieu! Et bonne chance!


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