Elke’s Peninsula

Maybe it’s Just Me

Sometimes the mosquitos are right
By Andy Michaelson
St. Albert Gazette
Andy Michaelson is a St. Albert Poet and Writer
January 8, 2011

St. Albert, Alberta, Canada — Is there anything more irritating than the mosquito? All that buzzing in your ear, biting, drawing blood and leaving an itchy welt. Circling and returning again and again with a new target area, forcing attention on itself and it’s intended landing place, then biting and moving to the next target inhibiting our ability to relax and enjoy.

Usually in our culture the heroes are large individuals, strong and able to take and give blows to settle disputes. Hercules, pick any John Wayne character, Jimmy Dean’s ‘Big John’ or perhaps they have special powers like Superman, Spiderman, Wonder Woman, the Hulk, Iron Man and all the rest throughout history. These are the ones we see as having impact in our lives. Yet we know that it all began with the smallest of living creatures, that the most enduring impacts come from those who will not quit the fight when they are sure of the righteousness of their cause.

mosquito1I have seen the civil rights movement in the United States, protests against the war in Vietnam, the pushes to remove books from classrooms and libraries and those who resisted those efforts, environmental movements both for and against development of new technologies and religious debates of all sorts. The constant in all of those, are the personal attacks launched against individuals and the lack of apologies when they’re proven correct. Usually it is the mosquitoes in our society that take the risks and are often squashed for bringing unpopular, yet factual, issues to the table and demanding a discussion with results. Most often even when proven correct, the mosquitoes receive no thanks, no recognition for their efforts and for the positive contributions they’ve made.

Perhaps even with some bitter taste in their mouths, St. Albert Council has recognized the efforts of one of our mosquitoes — Elke Blodgett. The naming of a part of reclaimed St. Albert after her, shows respect if not affection, understands her commitment if not her passion, looks to our future and our future bank balances. Our world is well aware of the costs and destruction of poor environmental planning in the past, as pending disasters very often have roots in history. In St. Albert’s case those poor decisions weren’t made in some very distant past. Bob Russell once told me, as a boy, he watched tractor trailer loads of old and aging paint being dumped into our former landfill that is now Riel Park. We accepted those loads for a fee, which we also kept low and very competitive.

Elke the mosquito, has remind us and the last several city councils and administrations, of the threats to Big Lake, the Sturgeon River, our wet lands, our wooded areas. For this service, for many years she was castigated, joked about. Eye-balls rolled at the mention for her name, she caused tax dollars to be spent to fix environmental problems in St. Albert. Elke worked up a literal sweat and many came to her aid for free — lawyers, environmentalist, scientists and citizens.

Following the announcement of her recognition, some disgruntled letters began to appear; what they lacked in accuracy they made up for in bitchiness. As a good friend has told me several times, ‘When you have the facts — pound the facts, when you have no facts — pound the table.’ As a taxpayer be thankful Elke found and demanded solutions now rather than let our environmental issues become much more expensive or worst unsolvable. The beauty that has been preserved by her efforts, by her taking the snide comments, by her continued efforts is so significant that the beauty of this place rates very high in our eyes every satisfaction survey conducted by the city.

These photographs were taken by Elke at one of her favourite places near Big Lake. An irritant she maybe but thank heaven we have her. You know she’ll never quit. The best idea I can think of is to ask good questions with and of her and be sure I understand the answers I get from every one.

Of course, maybe it’s just me.

Read Andy’s blog, Maybe it’s just me, Sundays after 12 noon at maybe.andymichaelson.com

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Elke Blodgett