Hump Day: The moose — A ‘‍Hinterland Who’s Who’ view from a safe distance

Hump Day 2 croppedHump Day
By Brian Cormier
Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2015
Moncton Times & Transcript

According to the New Brunswick Department of Natural Resources, 3,728 moose were killed by hunters in the province during the 2015 hunting season which took place from Sept. 22-26. Many of these successful hunters (and their friends and families) will be enjoying moose meat during the coming year. It will be fried, roasted, bottled and included in meat pies and stews.

I’m not a hunter, but my father was. My brother is a hunter today, as are some cousins. Many of my uncles and my father’s friends were hunters, too. Among the many photos stuffed into a drawer in my parents’ dresser were ones of my father and his buddies posing with their various trophies: moose, deer, rabbits and trout. I didn’t think much of it back then. We ate everything he hunted or fished. It was normal.

But then he brought me hunting. We went for partridge in Albert County, if I remember correctly. I can’t remember how old I was. Maybe 12? Anyway, the experience was absolutely horrifying to me. I shot the gun but missed, thankfully. Why would I want to shoot an innocent bird who was just minding its own business in the woods? I didn’t see the point.

Hunting wasn’t so appealing to me after that. I certainly don’t think it’s inherently cruel or inhumane as long as it’s done right. And it’s definitely essential – as much as possible – that all parts of the animal be used. I remember my father even had a hat made out of moose fur once. It was his pride and joy, and he wore it for years.

I'd much rather see a moose inside my mother's Christmas meat pie ("pâté") than on the road. (Click on the photo for a larger version.)
I’d much rather see a moose inside my mother’s Christmas meat pie (“pâté”) than on the road. (Click on the photo for a larger version.)

Perhaps I’m a hypocrite. I don’t mind eating hunted animals, but I just don’t want to be there when it happens. For sure, I certainly don’t want to be the one pulling the trigger.

New Brunswick is not lacking in moose. According to biologists with the provincial Department of Natural Resources, there are still about 32,000 adult moose in the province’s forests. That’s 32,000 huge animals who don’t seem to care if they wander across highways while we’re driving by. When I worked for the RCMP years ago, one of the officers told me that the worst car accidents are usually those involving moose. The accident scenes are particularly gruesome.

Thankfully, I’ve only seen a couple of moose on the side of the road when I’ve been driving. Each time, I’ve been awed by their sheer size. They are behemoths! How big they are cannot really be believed until you’ve driven by one lounging in a ditch next to the road. After that, you’ll never want to see another one again. The novelty wears off pretty quickly. Natural curiosity turns to authentic terror instantaneously.

If you’re ever in a car with someone who’s never seen a moose beside (or on!) the road before, they’re probably pretty nonchalant about it. “I’d like to see a moose,” they’ll say. You’ll reply, “Oh no you don’t! They’re huge!” And they’ll probably just snicker like they don’t believe you. Thirty seconds after driving by one, however, look over at the other person in the car and their hair’s suddenly turned gray and is stuck out like they’ve just taken a bath with a plugged-in toaster, their eyes are bugged out of their head like they have some horrible disease and the bottom of their jaw is touching their chest. “Drive faster,” they manage to croak out, the smile wiped from their face. “I want my mommy.” Not so brave now, eh?

It’s understandable. We’ve all been there. Until you see that first monstrous creature on the side of the road, it’s all fun and games. After that, you can do without.

My mother asked my aunt the other day if she wanted some moose meat for her Christmas meat pies from my brother if his hunt was successful this year. The answer was an emphatic no. No one would eat the meat pies if my cousins knew they had moose in them, she thought. Well, we had moose meat (and bunnies!) in our Christmas meat pies growing up, so her kids (my cousins) had some whether they knew it or not. Muahaha!

It always amazes me how huge moose live in the forests basically unseen until they linger by the side of the road or end up in a hunter’s slow cooker. I only hope that the next one I see is cubed up inside one of my mother’s Christmas meat pies along with the pigs, chickens, cows and bunnies. Better there than through my windshield!

TransAqua finalist in Greater Moncton Chamber’s Business Excellence Awards

TransAqua logoTransAqua – the Greater Moncton Wastewater Commission – is proud to be one of the finalists in the environmental category for the Greater Moncton Chamber of Commerce’s 2015 Business Excellence Awards. The awards will be given out at a gala event at Casino New Brunswick in Moncton on Oct. 29.

“It is particularly gratifying to be nominated in the environmental category this close to World Rivers Day on September 27,” said Kevin Rice, General Manager of TransAqua. “We have worked very hard from day one to do our part in ensuring the good health of the Petitcodiac River watershed. Through the planned $81-million upgrade of our wastewater treatment facility in Riverview, we will meet new federal standards by 2020. The quality of our effluent will be greatly enhanced, allowing us to further help keep the aquatic environment clean.”

gmcc excellence awardsTransAqua also operates a compost facility in Moncton which mitigates the biosolids removed from the wastewater treatment process. “We could truck away these biosolids for incineration or to the landfill, however we made a strategic environmental decision to deal with them locally,” Mr. Rice says. “Today, we produce some of the best compost in Canada, which we then provide free of charge to local residents and municipalities for use in landscaping and gardening.”

TransAqua is also looking at ways to recover heat from wastewater in order to reduce its energy costs. A pilot project is currently underway to perfect the process.

“The health of the Petitcodiac River and its watershed is very important to the residents of Moncton, Dieppe and Riverview,” Mr. Rice says. “We are committed to doing everything we can to ensure that the effluent that goes back into the river is as clean as possible and that the remaining biosolids are put to good use.”

TransAqua Chair Winston Pearce was equally pleased with the nomination. “We are honoured that the Greater Moncton Chamber of Commerce recognizes TransAqua’s dedicated efforts toward a healthy environment for us all,” Mr. Pearce said. “At this time, I would like to thank the entire team at TransAqua, including our hard-working staff, our dedicated board of directors and our various suppliers and stakeholders for making this possible.”

For more information on the Greater Moncton Excellence Awards, visit the Greater Moncton Chamber of Commerce’s website.

About TransAqua

TransAqua, the Greater Moncton Wastewater Commission was established in 1983 to support the wastewater collection and treatment needs of the Dieppe, Moncton and Riverview tri-community. Since then, it has developed a 31-kilometre collection network and a treatment facility to best deliver on this mandate. It has also become a leader in the reuse of bio-solids through the generation of type ‘AA’ compost (the highest grade currently achieved in Canada) as opposed to disposal in a landfill site. The organization is now positioning itself to further upgrade its facilities to provide an enhanced secondary treatment approach that will allow it to meet recently introduced mandatory federal regulations prior to the 2020 deadline.

Hump Day: Fall is here whether we like it or not

Hump Day 2 croppedHump Day
By Brian Cormier
Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2015
Moncton Times & Transcript

I know it’s September, but lately it’s felt more like July. The temperatures out this way have been pretty warm, while I’ve already seen Facebook photos posted by friends in Calgary with snow on the ground. It melts pretty fast, but it’s only September – and the sight of snow is enough to send a chill down anyone’s spine.

I am normally not a fan of summer; it’s way too warm for me – but this year was different. I didn’t mind the heat at all. After the vicious winter we had, even die-hard lovers of the fall like me are a little shaky about giving up the green grass, long days and the ability to leave your shoes on when you walk in the house because they’re not wet from snow and slush. Another Calgary friend posted pics today and fall foliage is already in full swing there. It’s still pretty green here.

It doesn’t matter how much we’re hanging on to summer or the nice weather, though, the progress of the calendar just won’t stop. So far, no one has figured out how to stop the clock. The changing of the seasons is inevitable – and since we have no choice, we might as well embrace it. What choice do we have? We can sit around and be miserable about it, or we can adapt and have fun!

The other day, I opened my mailbox to find the Sears Christmas Wish Book staring back at me. I’d say it was early, but it usually arrives in August. I remember when the Christmas catalogues would arrive in late summer when I was a kid. Like many others, the ‍Cormier siblings got out our pens and circled what we wanted. “I want that and that and that and that.” Wish Book? More like the Greed Book, but hey – it’s a rite of passage. I still find it a bit odd to be looking at very Christmasy thing during nice September weather, but we all complain about it like we do every year.

fall leaves 3The company that plows my driveway in the winter also called a few days ago wondering if I wanted to hire them again this year. They called when I was at an event but I took the call anyway after I scampered over to another room. It was warm and sunny that day, without a hint of fall in the air. And here I was discussing snow plowing on the phone. Like I said, the seasons will change anyway, might as well be ready!

In August, the garage where I usually do my tire changeovers called to set up an appointment for November after first asking if I wanted them done in October. Way too early for me, I’ll risk it until November – Friday the 13th to be exact! If it snows before then, I’ll have to drive very carefully because I’m pretty sure I’m on the last year of my eroding all-season tires.

There will still be warm days when those who have air conditioning will be cranking it and those who don’t swear that they’ll get it ‘next year’ – like they have for the past several years. I don’t know if mosquitoes stock up on blood for the winter, but they certainly did a job on me the other day when I took the dog outside for a walk. As soon as I walked outside, one of the little buggers planted a neon sign on top of my head flashing ‘all-you-can eat buffet.’ Have you ever tried to get your dog to do her business while holding a small plastic bag, swatting away mosquitoes and yelling at the dog to hurry up before you get bit to death by mosquitoes? It’s not a pretty sight.

I’ve also started to smell skunk odour around the house over the past two weeks. Another one of my potential nightmares: taking the dog out for her final bathroom break of the night only to get hit right between the eyes with Pepé Le Pew’s perfume. Even though I live an urban part of the city, I know there are skunks around. They’re out digging up local lawns in the middle of the night at this time of the year.

So if I can manage not to get sprayed by a skunk and make it to Nov. 13 to get my winter tires installed without crashing in an early snow storm, I should have a good fall. If worse comes to worse, though, I’ll just give up completely by standing in the middle of lawn and telling the mosquitoes that the buffet is open.