It may just be me, but as a citizen of St. Marys, I felt somewhat under siege last week.
As you can likely guess, it started with that storm on Wednesday. I watched the sky darken as I headed home from London up Adelaide Road; by the time I turned on to Highway 7, the entire area northeast of me was brooding with dramatic clouds and lightning bolts. Just when it looked like the storm was going to continue moving parallel to the highway, it darted south — and myself and other drivers were swallowed up by it.
Rain and branches flew past my windshield — but not hail. Unable to see anything, I pulled over just west of the Wellburn Road to hopefully let inertia keep my vehicle grounded. I called home in a mild panic, and Andrew confirmed that it was better to be where I was rather than drive further into the angry mix. Despite the golf-ball sized hail stones, we didn’t have any damage. We were lucky: farmers south of town had much crop damage, while the car dealerships had pockmarked cars, to name a few notable situations.
And then came the precautionary boil water advisory. It wasn’t so much the personal inconvenience of not drinking our water all day — and we’re usually big tap drinkers — but rather how others perceived the situation. Friends coming into town for supper asked if it was safe to eat here. There was apparently a run on bottled water, leading to some rudeness at local stores. The news coverage immediately turned the precautionary measure into a Walkerton-level situation. I am not making light of the tragedy of Walkerton: in fact, we benefit from the lessons learned from it (would we have even been told of the blip in the treatment system pre-Walkerton, I wonder?).
The last incident is a little less universal, but still unsettling. It was only Saturday afternoon that the public at large heard about a vaguely described incident on Queen Street the night prior that left store windows smashed and one man in critical condition in a London hospital. These facts are alone cause for concern, never mind what’s coming from the gossip mill… but when the police report includes the option of anonymously calling Crime Stoppers, that doesn’t bode well for a resolution. And to think it happened in the same spot where, hours later, children and families would be enjoying one of St. Marys’ best days of the year.
Just when the big three — weather, politics and crime — seem poised to do us all in, the world is redeemed. The turnout was spectacular for this year’s Heritage Festival on Saturday. Queen Street was hopping from early morning into late afternoon, capped off by a busy street dance and fireworks. Kudos to everyone involved in organizing and executing the day’s plans! We got a kick from watching Charlotte dance up a storm and enjoying her first-ever fireworks. We took advantage of the free swim at Cadzow on Sunday, and then we made an impromptu jaunt to Bayfield for even more fun in the sun.
So, as I finalize this column, I’m feeling less under siege in St. Marys… but I might have a case of sunstroke. I suppose I should just count my blessings!
I noticed that Napa cabbage is coming into season. The oblong heads are tenderer than their round cousins, making them a natural for salads as no blanching is required. Napa cabbage is often used in Asian cooking; there’s a popular salad recipe which uses MSG-laden ramen noodles for flavour. This version is great for those wary of both MSG and salt.
Napa Cabbage Salad
1 clove garlic, minced
Zest and juice of one lime
2 tbsp. rice wine vinegar
2 tsp. soy sauce
1/4 cup hot chili oil*
3 cups Napa cabbage, thinly sliced
1/2 red, yellow and orange bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
3 green onions, red and pale-green parts only, sliced thin
1/3 cup peeled, thinly sliced radish
1/4 cup trimmed, sliced snow peas
1/4 bunch chives, sliced thin
In a small bowl, whisk together garlic, zest and juice of lime, vinegar, soy sauce and chili oil. Season with salt as needed.
Put vegetables in a large bowl, add dressing, toss to combine, and serve.
(*If you can’t find hot chili oil, toasted sesame seed oil with hot sauce to taste could be substituted.)