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Sloughs in the Fog

September 29, 2012

Some time ago, I was a research technician working for a Soil Science professor at the university.  He told me about an interesting study of groundwater flow in western Manitoba.  The author, a geologist, had identified different types of sloughs (shallow ponds) according to subsurface groundwater flows.  The professor wanted to see if the soil types around these sloughs were also different.  He invited the geologist to take us to his research sites, arranging the trip for a weekend in October.

We had beautiful weather that fall, with warm sunny days.  This all changed on the morning of the trip.  When I looked out the window early in the morning, expecting to see bright sunshine, all I could see was fog everywhere.  A bit of fog wasn’t going to stop us.  It couldn’t last all day.  It couldn’t cover the whole province.  Away we went heading west in the station wagon.  Our group included me, the professor, the geologist, and several soil surveyors.  Once we reached the study area, our plan was to stop at high points where we could view the entire landscape extending from groundwater recharge to discharge areas.

We had to abandon that plan when we reached our destination; there was still fog everywhere.  Instead we decided to visit each of the geologist’s piezometer sites, which were adjacent to different types of sloughs.  Our first stop was a slough near Hamiota, just off the highway.  We drove part way around the slough and sat in the station wagon discussing the PhD thesis.  There was not much else to do there.  We could barely see the water in the slough with all that fog.

Just then a car pulled in behind us.  An RCMP officer asked what we were doing there.  We explained.  He got in his car and drove away.  A few minutes later, he returned asking each of us for identification.  We all dug out business cards and handed them to him.  We explained in more detail what we were doing there, beside the slough.  After he left, one of the soil surveyors remarked that this was the first time they’ve ever had to identify themselves to the RCMP.

We visited more of the piezometer sites that day, still in the fog.  Finally we went to our motel at Shoal Lake.  It was there that we turned on the TV and got a shock.  The news was all about the October crisis in Quebec.  The war measures act had been proclaimed.  Soldiers were in the streets of Ottawa.  That was why the RCMP was interested in us!

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