Enjoying the fruits of my designs

  Cathy and Karen canoe drawingI’m taking a break from work and from blogging… in fact I’m taking a break from the digital universe. For the next few weeks I’m going to be at a rustic cottage in northern Saskatchewan where I’ll be enjoying the fruits of my microclimatic labour and I really, truly will be off-line! The cottage has no wifi, no cable tv, no cellphone coverage, and until a few years ago no land-line telephone.

The environment around our cottage has been designed so that every moment of the day there are microclimatically-appropriate places to accommodate our every whim. When we wake up in the morning we take our coffee down to the blazing sunshine on the dock. Cool Saskatchewan mornings are tempered by the solar radiation reflected off the pristine spring-fed lake. After breakfast we golf at a fun little course that has just the right amount of sun and shade for a morning game. Lunch is on the back deck in magnificent sunshine that beams onto the area from 11:30-1:30 and then agreeably passes behind some beautiful Betula papyrifera that we strategically planted twenty years ago. The early afternoon often brings a snooze on the now-shaded deck, before a swim in the sun-warmed waters. Dinner (‘supper’ in Saskatchewan) is held on the back deck where coals from a birchwood fire gently brown shishliki provided by neighbour Tom. Delicious! And after supper I paddle the canoe out onto the lake and pick up a few pickerel for tomorrow’s breakfast while I watch the northern sun angle slowly across the landscape, lingering while the sky turns crimson, fuschia, then peach, before finally gives way to magnificent aurora borealis. Our microclimatic day is complete and we sleep in a quiet so profound that I sometimes wake with my ears almost hurting from the lack of sound waves.

When I get back from this incredible gift of a break I have some big plans for posts to my blog. It’ll probably be hot, humid and hazy in early August so Dr. Drew Graham and I will be writing about his study that investigated the relationship between the amount of canopy cover in a neighbourhood in Toronto and the number of emergency response calls during heat waves. Could the number of trees in a neighbourhood actually affect the chances of people needing medical aid during hot weather? Stay tuned.

I’m also planning a collaborative post with Graham Slater who did a remarkable study of the temperature and humidity profile in neighbourhood parks in Toronto. This ground-breaking work won the top ASLA Student Research Award. They don’t often give out an Award of Excellence, but they did for Graham’s work. I think you’ll be fascinated to hear the results.

And I’m hoping that Dr. Sanda Lenzholzer of Wageningen University in the Netherlands will provide a post on urban climate myth-busting. You won’t want to miss that!

So I’m signing off for a few weeks. If you have any questions or issues that you’d like me to write about, please send me an email at rbrown@uoguelph.ca.

But I won’t see them until August. In the meantime I’ll be enjoying the benefits of years of designing with microclimate.