Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Summertime and the Living is Easy...

Mid-morning, as the air and ground began to heat up, giving a hint of the 100 plus degree day it was going to be, I sat on the patio and watched a flock of pine siskins swoop and plunge through the dappled leaves. They were so small and swift that at first I thought they were hummingbirds, but my binoculars confirmed the little twitterers were more fluffy and plump. Impossible to count, but there seemed to be from thirty to fifty of them, swirling like leaves in a storm, uttering little cricket pips. Ironically, it was very restful to watch all their frenetic activity; there was a just-so-ness about it that settled me. Knowing I wouldn’t get much done in the day’s heat, I stayed and watched their antics, grateful that they had convened in my grove. For a moment, I was a “being”, not a “doing”.

And somehow that reminded me of the opening scenes of “An Inconvenient Truth”… I know I’ve written about it before, but I’ve noticed that since I’ve seen it, I look at these grace-filled moments in a different light, with the sense that I could lose them entirely. And even if not me, then the next generation, or the next… my thoughts meandered to the trip we’d just taken through eastern Oregon, through the vast rolling Palouse hills that take such enormous effort to raise the wheat we depend on so carelessly. Because it was about 100 degrees that day, my husband and I commented on how easy it seemed for this all to become total desert, with just a couple degrees more heat. We, who are so used to driving to a nearby store for all our sustenance have no real notion of how much work it takes… We were returning from attending a Renaissance Faire in Richland Washington, where again I had been reminded (by things like hand-spun yarn and hand-forged bracelets) of how much more labor is involved in everything we eat, wear and use. Granted, it’s not done by hand anymore (mostly) but still, mass production takes a lot of work in its own way… and we just pluck things off the shelf like they were magic.

So, what if all this began to unravel? It wouldn’t take too many months of extra heat and a sudden unavailability of water to mess up the crops. We’ve already had extreme weather, and the destroyed crops have cause grumping about the high prices… but what if they were just unavailable? None of us are used to empty grocery shelves, as some countries are. But just a couple degrees change could make our lives much more difficult. How easily could we adjust to small, mealy apples or bug-holed string beans, if that was all we had? We toss all that food now, as being un-sellable… I write this not to be a Cassandra, but just to get folks to be more aware of the ease of our lives (which we -- or at least I! -- sometimes forget in grumbling about minor annoyances) and to ask if it isn’t worth a bit more work in order to keep it. Anyone who has not yet alerted your Congress rep. or Senator that global warming is a big issue for you; it’s time to speak up. By the time we really notice it, it will be too late.

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