Saturday, November 4, 2017

Unusually warm again: on the peculiarly temporary sensation of enjoying climate change

I wrote this on October 28, but it is still true in November, this humid unseasonable weather that clings to the days and makes our nights sweaty and confusing.

A band of clouds gathers over the outermost islands, but here, closer inland, the sky is blue and the sun warm, the air sweet and gentle, hot even, if you're in the lee of the breeze. Dragonflies fall into the sea; you notice them because they spin in the water in their death throes, their wings still revolving. The great blue herons still fish from the pond and at the backs of the coves, and the loons still gather and linger, floating silently some distance offshore.

It's still so warm that some of the lupines have burst into bloom again; likewise the thistles, and at night, here and there, we can hear a few frogs creaking and singing from the mud, as if we might skip winter and it were spring all over again. Mosquitoes still gather and slow moving flies bumble into our hair as we walk at the forest edge. Meanwhile, the apples ripen and drop from the trees, the cranberries redden and sweeten,  and the ferns have turned brown and begun to crumble.  Wild rosebushes gleam yellow and scarlet; rose hips jewel along the path by the shore. The tamaracks (or larches, as they are called in the US,) yellow and begin to drop their needles. These are all sure signs of autumn; nevertheless, no one can be sure that it has arrived.

We walk and stretch and snooze in the afternoon sun, eat carrot salad for lunch, sip green tea. Golden light halos the yellowing leaves still clinging to the trees, and porcupines mumble in the underbrush.  The dog flushes pheasants and young grouse; deer droppings pebble the yard. The grass is still green. We sit on the porch and read, stare out over the water, and puzzle over when the cold will come. A spate of warmest, record-breaking days unfolds week over week. Every denies it, but we all love it. I think Canadians like climate change, says Elisabeth, who at nearly 83 is our household elder.

And so do we, even as the dwindling numbers of returning ducks and strange and sudden appearance of exotic fish in the water and razor clams along the beach alarm us. We all catch what feel like summer colds, but enjoy walking barefoot through the house and wearing t-shirts and shorts at the end of October. Where will it all end?

We don't want it to end, but this ongoing spate of warm weather makes us nervous.  It is as if we are holding our collective breath: the world has gone unpredictable, and we do not know what will come next. 

Meanwhile, the usual rapaciousness of superextractive industries continues and everything we touch turns to waste.  Every day brings idiot pronouncements from Washington, along with increasing rollbacks of environmental protections. The poor are ever poorer, the rich richer.  Insects are dying in unprecedented numbers; new wars break out nearly every day, and the number of global refugees tops 65 million. Nothing we have thoughts immutable is going to stay the same and we here, we privileged denizens of the global north, are largely to blame: this is the truth from which we frantically turn, as we thumb through our facebook feeds, liking, liking, loving, weeping, again and again.  (Look, look. Look where your hands are. Now.)

1 comment:

  1. My hands are on the keyboard of my old Mac Pro. Glad I no longer like, like, love, and weep, although of course I do, just not on that medium. Lovely description of this protracted early Fall. Getting cool, though, in Montreal: tuque weather. xx, Tessa.