The Heat is On!


6.30.13  It’s the last day of June and this is the NOAA weather forecast headline:  “Wednesday could be one of the hottest days next week, or ever…”  Really–“for ever”!  It would be nice to have a little transition between cool rains and record-setting heat.  But, alas, it is now Summer. Tourist traffic is picking up, and driving across the top of the lake is a slow slog, as people pull off to the side of the road with their cameras, taking photos of the brilliant canola fields against blue sky, mountains and water.  Tripods are set up and friends and family stand waist-high in the fields for quintessential photographs of summer’s arrival.  It’s truly a show-stopper.

I pulled off the other day onto a country road for a quick photo with my iphone.  (I know not to take my real camera into town or I would never arrive at my destination on time.)   A woman came out of her farmhouse and called out to me, “So, you think these genetically modified rapeseed fields are actually beautiful?”  I replied that I didn’t know much about canola, except that it was a GMO crop, and The Food Guys on NPR said to never cook with it because it’s so bad for us.

“Maybe we can pretend it’s mustard seed!” I told her as I hurriedly got back into my car.  When I got home, I did some research and the rapeseed is, in fact,  from the mustard family and is an excellent insect repellant.  But, according to many sources online, it’s very bad for us because it contains Erucic acid which leads to fibrous lesions of the heart.  In the 1970’s, the Canadian plant breeders engineered a new variety of rapeseed with a much lower level of monounsaturated fats and named it “Canada” and “oil”–canola.  Since then, canola has apparently leached into all sorts of food products (just read the labels).  However, because the process of producing the oil from this genetically modified plant involves, among other things, the use of Hexane, a solvent which remains in the oil, and because its effects have not been adequately studied on humans, there is significant concern about its safety.  The fact that the FDA prohibits its use in infant formula certainly raises an alarm.  Sigh…

As I drive through the valley and take in these canola fields, my eye is constantly searching for that unique yellow-green color to appear in something else.  The YIELD signs are too orange, the Subway signs too yellow, and then I spot a sign for Applebees.   It’s the exact same color as the canola fields.  (The red apple on that green makes such a pleasing composition.)  Applebees.  A restaurant chain in which they don’t make the food in their own kitchens but microwave pre-made baggies of food which have been delivered by trucks to their loading docks.   Fitting, that their green-yellow logo is the exact color of the engineered crop, canola.    These are signs of our times.

Yet, I still find the fields stunning and I love summer’s shade of blue against that green-yellow.  It makes me want to see if I can re-create those shades with my watercolors.  Actually, a very nice way to spend a hot summer afternoon on the final day of June.

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