Wednesday, 24 August 2011

What we want vs. what we get...and some turtle tales

Our second priority, building the dock, needed approval from the local conservation authority.  After getting our contractor, Mark, to draw up some plans we sent in our permit application.  Mark met with the conservation authority guy and did an amazing job of selling most of the plan but certain things had to be sacrificed.  There's a delicate balance of getting what we want and what the conservation authority will let us have.  Even decks on land at the shore must be called landings to satisfy regulations.  Weird!

The list of what we wanted:
>A nice big floating dock in the water and a ramp up.
>A good sized deck (or landing as the conservation authority prefers) attached to the rock.
>Stairs up the rock to a landing at the top of the rock.
>A separate deck at the top of the rock to enjoy the view of the lake from a different perspective and to enjoy some shade on hot days.

The list of what we can have:
>The floating dock and ramp is ok.
>The deck (or landing) attached to the rock must be smaller than we wanted and cannot be cantilevered over the water.
>The stairs up and the landing at the top of the stairs are ok.
>We cannot have the separate deck at the top of the rock.  Why?  Good question.

Mom & Ras enjoy the original deck/dock. Sorry Ras...I had to draw the top landing right over top of you. I'll get to the turtle.

The bylaws for our lot requires us to build 30 meters back from the water's edge.  This makes sense for the house and the septic system.  I get the intended protection of the water's health and I have no problem with this.  I also get the laws that are in place to limit the destruction of the natural shoreline from weed pulling, rock moving and breakwall building.  What I don't get is the conservation authority will allow us to plop a big ol' floating dock on top of the sensitive ecosystem of the shoreline, they give us a hard time about attaching a deck/landing to a rock where nothing is living, and they totally nix the deck at the top of the rock...because it is a structure and no structures are allowed within 30 meters of the water.  Is the set of stairs and the two landings on either end of it not considered a structure?  Is the floating dock more environmentally friendly than a deck on land?  How can that be?  I guess I shouldn't complain because we got to have the dock we wanted in the water and, sure, we can set our chairs (albeit quite askew as the ground isn't too level) on top of the rock and enjoy the other view of the lake.  It just all seems really ridiculous to me.  I would have thought the conservation authority would have given us a hard time about the floating dock and given us free reign with the on-land deck.  But what do I know?  Anyway...permit granted with restrictions.

This is probably as good a time as any to mention the other names we have thought about for the compound as my brother affectionately calls it.  One evening, just around dusk, I walked down to the water to enjoy one last look at the lake before nightfall.  There was a turtle at the top of the rock and I could see that she had been trying very hard to dig a hole in which to lay her eggs.  My first thought was how did she get up here because the rock is very steep and unless I've been missing the leatherback olympics all my life, turtles are not that athletic.  My second thought was why not dig where the dirt is deeper than one centimeter.  There had been many attempts to dig a hole deep enough for her eggs only to be stopped short by that very large rock.  Upon recounting this story to Ras she replied with, "Maybe we should call the place Turtle Rock, or maybe Turtle Ridge."

In keeping with the turtle theme, upon returning to Silverstone Trillium Turtle Ridge Rock after a few days back in the city, we were horrified to see our shoreline choked with weeds.  I believe we both blurted it out at the same time..."Holy crap, we bought a swamp!"  This is unacceptable.  This will never do!  Immediately me and the kayak paddle jump into high gear to rescue Ras's swimming area.  Ras slowly walks back up the hill toward Priscilla, visibly horrified yet secretly devastated.  I worked away at the weeds, almost bending the kayak paddle from the weight of each bunch I extracted, producing an enornous pile of weeds on the rock.  Stinkin' damn transient weeds!  I'm thinking to myself with each paddleful of weeds that I'm probably going to be arrested for this.  And then I heard it.  It sounded like a baseball rolling down the rock.  When I looked toward the sound I saw this little, baseball-sized, turtle rolling down the rock and...splash...back into the water he went.  Apparently, the turtle was entangled in the weeds and tossed onto the weed pile on the rock with the last snarled paddleful.  Ok, now I really think I'm going to be arrested.  Before you go forwarding this blog to the conservation authority I know for a fact that there are businesses in the area that charge for the service of removing these transient weeds by the barge load.  Not one standing weed was ever removed by me or my kayak paddle!  Just the floating ones.  Turtles...beware!

Ras and I were enjoying the sunset that evening on the dock, surrounded by beautiful weed-free water, and I finally gathered enough courage to confess to my earlier turtle-assaulting actions.  Then I said, "Maybe we should call the place Turtle Falls."

Not guilty at Turtle Falls,

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