Fall is upon us. The children have gone back to school. People are getting into their busy fall routines. The leaves are not only changing colour but falling off the trees much too rapidly for my liking.
And yet one thing remains from the summer of 2016. I hear everyone asking “What could it be?” Is it the idyllic memories of time spent outdoors with family, friends and neighbors? Is it the memories of time spent outdoors enjoying everything from picnics, bike rides, walks and every lake activity you can imagine?
No, the remnants of summer are – wait for it! Is the suspense killing you? Can you not wait another moment to find out the answer? I certainly hope you don’t feel disappointed or let down by the unexciting answer. LAKE WEEDS. Yes, lake weeds are what still remain. Whether they are floating around in the middle like lost islands or washing up to the shore lines of lakefront owners, lake weeds seem to be here to stay. Wait a minute, they are here to stay! Does that mean we must accept them for all their faults and foibles? They must have some good qualities, please, someone enlighten me, show me the light. Does it mean we must make them our friends? After all they must too (like all friends) feel the need to be accepted, to be liked, even loved by those around them. Perhaps we should feel sorry for them. They spend countless months frozen, hibernating, just waiting for sunlight, longer days and open water so they can grow tall enough to meet all their friends or frienenemies. And then what happens to them? They get chopped down to their knees (don’t worry; they have the ability to grow back faster than it takes for you to blink twice). Boats travel the lake cutting the weeds with their props and leaving them in their wakes. The Town, oops, sorry, City (Does anyone else still have trouble referring to Chestermere as a city?) employs people to cut the weeds down. They do this with the best of intention. You see they want the city’s folk to enjoy the lake. You don’t have to live on the lake to enjoy its beauty. It’s only those who live on the lake who are forced to befriend the weeds. So once cut we all know what happens to the weeds. Or do you? I can only assume you do because I certainly do. You see I am one of the fortunate ones who get to know the weeds all too well. Fortunate because I am so grateful to own lakefront property. Grateful that every morning I can step out my front door (I learned early that lakefront owners consider the lakeside to be the front yard). Please don’t discount how blessed I feel when I tell you that there is a lot of hard work, blood, sweat and tears and very hard earned money that affords this blessed lifestyle.
We pay exorbitant taxes, had to purchase the land under the water to where our dock ends, pay ever increasing utility fees. (Our utilities have climbed from paying one amount every two months to paying that same amount every month). Now every city property owner is in the same boat with one exception: they don’t have to befriend the weeds. They don’t have to collect them in fancy green bins for the city to collect only once a week. This is a never ending chore. Granted, there are some lakefront owners who don’t befriend the weeds. They simply ignore them waiting for someone else to pick them up. They actually push them back out into the lake so someone else has to deal with them. The even go as far as publicly telling their neighbours to follow their lead and push them back out to sea on the local Facebook page. I don’t blame them, I actually wish I could be like them but I can’t. I know that there are a countless number of us lakefront residents who want to do right by the weeds and pick them up. Yes, there are many lakefront owners vying for the title of “President of the Weeds Fanclub”! Or many of us who think we own the title. I bet if you asked any one of us “Presidents” we would gladly relinquish the title. I can only speak for myself but I am soooo tired, weighed down really, from the weight that carrying this title loads onto my back, my daily schedule, my free time, and most importantly, my psyche.
Now, don’t be so melodramatic, I can hear you exclaim. Please note that it is not one bin but bins that count into the teens that are filled and overfilled regularly waiting to be carried away to their next destination. We can only hope that they make friends there because by this time of year I am so over them and never want to see them again.
Well then, as a very wise gentleman used to say to me, “Let’s get down to the brass tacks”. This is where this story goes off the rails. You see, collection of our weed friends has evolved over the years. Once upon a time, in the good old days, weeds were collected by the lakefront owners, deposited on the docks and the friendly neighbourhood weed collectors (Town employees) would come by and take them away for us. Unfortunately this practice was terminated due to liability and has never been seen again. Does anyone have photos/memories of this? If so, perhaps you could send them to the Historical Society so that they can record this as fact. Next up, please place your weeds (like we own them or something!) on the roadside for collection. This is when my life on the lake began. Weeds or friends (I seem to have forgotten their importance in my life) were diligently collected in the wheelbarrow and carried up to the road like the fragile beings they are. This practice came to an abrupt end when someone from the Town drove down either East or West Chestermere Drive or both, and decided that it looked tacky. Unfortunately they must have driven by at the wrong time because we were fortunate enough to have the town pick up the weeds on a daily basis; if they saw weeds piled up they picked them up.
So now we are up to present day practices and this is where I really need help. Solutions are what I need. Today’s practice does not help the weeds or those who pick them up. Let’s face it, comparing them to friends is crazy because weeds are the nemesis of all those who choose to deal with them.
I’m certain we all know that garbage, recycle and compost collection is only once a week, or once every two weeks for compost in the winter. Once a week just doesn’t cut it. Weeds don’t come in on a schedule. They don’t just magically appear on Mondays waiting to be collected on Tuesday’s garbage day. They come in to the shore when they bloody well feel like it. They are cut back by the weed cutters five days a week, cut by boats every day of the week and are picked up or pushed back every day as well.
Please help me with how a person can speak to someone in the authority about the lack of collection. The weeds need to be picked up every day so that the lakefront owners can try to keep up.
I, unfortunately, have stopped calling CUI. The last time I called, the poor lady who answered my call told me that I should call in my complaints to the City, which was the last straw for me. The City, or Town as it was then, collected the weeds on the road five days a week and even helped us out by doing that for us this year when they saw that the bins were overflowing and we were having to pile them once again on the roadside. I have asked many times to speak with the person who holds “lake weed authority” at CUI and time and again was put through to a voice mail message that said they were in the office that day but weren’t able to come to the phone. My imagination ran crazy wondering where they might be – oh, I know, hiding under their desk thinking up more ways to help out their paying customers. Snarky, I know. But you should hear some of the rumoured suggestions that they have come up with. Really all I want is a solution that works. A solution for everyone means a solution for me, or should I say that a solution that would work for me should surely work for everyone.
So please, if you have solutions, none are too big or too small, please let the world know or at least the nearly 20,000 Chestermere residents. Direct them to CUI and the City because it is obvious that they are dumbfounded and clueless as to how lake weeds affect their citizens.
On that note, I sit on my dock (after slugging weeds for two hours last night and three hours this morning) waiting impatiently for the water to go out. Yes, that is right; I can not wait for weed hibernation season to begin.
This could have been written by any lakefront owner – I am a citizen, not the President or even a board member of the Lake Weed Fan Club.