Category Archives: global warming

Drought in New England

Old map of my neighborhood

When I tried to type “drought” in the title just now, it auto-corrected to “fright.” Exactly!

We are finally getting some rain, but it’s been bad, really bad — super hot and dry. Even that hardiest of perennials, the hosta, has struggled. I’ve dug up four shrubs and will likely have to dig up two more. Ferns have crisped and collapsed. Astilbe try valiantly, but barely make it despite daily watering. I’ve even been watering well-established trees for fear of losing them (NB: our reservoir, the Quabbin, has high levels right now).

It’s been a close-to-home wake up call for an area relatively immune to the drastic effects of climate change. Hurricanes are rare here. Tornados happen now again, but usually out by Worcester or Springfield. We don’t get flooding or wildfires and until now, drought was something that happened out West.

A dogwood that I planted at the elementary school years back doesn’t look like it’s gonna make it

A “flash drought” is nothing like the nearly decade-long drought in California, say, but it brings immediate consequences.

I read that a temperature change of 1.5 degrees would be catastrophic for forests in the Northeast.

This is not autumnal turning

No wonder some nights I feel the acid bloom of fear just as I’m dropping off to sleep.

Dusty west and dry east

On other trips to Los Angeles, it seemed I could not take a bad picture. On this recent trip, however, the landscapes look dusty, uninspired, and ill-composed. I think it was me.

Here on the east coast, it continues to be dry and hot. We missed the scorching heat while visiting my brother, but our plants did not. Through the use of timers and soaker hoses, we were able to preserve a lot, but some astilbe dried to a crisp and several newer shrubs gave up the ghost. I just dug up two of them. I don’t plan to replace them.

I cooked for us all at my brother’s and that was nice but the real contribution of the week was to blow up the solar-powered beach-ball lights that had been sitting in their boxes since Christmas.

It was strange while away to check the daily temps at home and find the Boston area hotter, by five, six, seven degrees sometimes.

It took longer than usual to “arrive” home but here we are. The AC blowing. The dog sighing. Greenery bouncing in a light, hot wind.

Before I sign off, look what Nancy sent me. How nice it was to come home to!

Check out the button! I feel so seen.

Thank you, Ms. Erisman!

Another heat record?

Boston is headed toward another summer of record-breaking heat.

Four of the five hottest summers [in the US] have now occurred since 2011. The summers of 2021 and 1936 hold the first- and second-place rankings, followed by 2012, 2011 and 2020, respectively. Fox29Philadelphia

One of the most on-point novels about the climate crisis that I’ve read is The Ministry for the Future by Kim Stanley Robinson. Okay, I haven’t read all that many novels on the topic, but here’s why this one is so good. It plausibly and with a lot of detail imagines how rising temperatures will impact us and it plausibly and with a lot of detail posits the solutions.

Of course the solutions are only plausible if climate deniers are removed from power and an extraordinary and unprecedented cooperation occurs across the globe. Maybe far-fetched then?

It’s long and not every reader will want to invest the time. Luckily there are two articles in The New Yorker that might appeal to you instead. The shorter article offers a 19 minute audio and the longer article is accompanied by a 55-minute audio.

The shorter article begins by describing the book’s opening scene: a lethal heat wave descends on India, with vast, horrifying consequences.

A recent news story echoes this premise.

From YaleClimateConnections.com

I laughed when my brother’s partner suggested we plan an upcoming visit to Los Angeles in September instead of July because it’s so hot there then. It’s pretty hot here too, I told her.

When we moved into this house in 1993, for the first many summers there were only a couple of weeks, maybe ten days, that were unbearably hot. You could get by with a window unit easily.

When the boys were little and we had one window AC, we’d all sleep in one bedroom like refugees during those dog days. Afternoons, when we weren’t swimming at Crystal Lake, we’d go to the movies or the mall just for the chilled air. The heat spells were relatively brief and manageable.

And then it changed. The heat started earlier in the season and lasted longer. Much longer. I had to campaign for central air because it’s expensive. We have a supply of window fans to cool us on the borderline days, but it’d be really hard to get through a Boston summer without central air anymore.

I’m planning to write upstairs with AWA friends this morning (via zoom of course) then spend as much time outside as I can stand later. I have a beautiful fresh bundle of dill so maybe a cold cucumber soup is in order!

From prognostications of doom to menu planning? Yeah, that’s me all the way.

Have a great weekend all.

They said eight inches

And we got eight inches.

Friends in writing sessions this week spoke to a person about missing winter and no surprise, for warmer temperatures are both alarming and disorienting. According to a recent study cited by The Boston Globe, “New England is warming significantly faster than global average temperatures, and that rate is expected to accelerate …” Also, Massachusetts is warming faster than the other Northeastern states.

So it’s not just a matter of mood, memory, or habit. Missing the cocooning beauty of snow is the least of it but there is also that.

We headed out in advance of the plows. To protect my socks and new (warm! comfie!) ankle boots, I made impromptu gaitors. They worked!

Next up: a fleece wrap for Finn. I’m going to cut up a cape I made for the boys back in their Hogwarts years, which is to say: their childhood.

Befriending process

Yesterday, between the frightening news about trump’s ongoing efforts to undermine our upcoming election and a new construction project in an abutting neighbor’s backyard, I sought solace in the basement. It was cool. It was quiet.

First came two hours of writing class, then frustrating attempts to attach pieces of the giant global warming quilt. I decided to surrender to the difficulties, in a way, by working fast with top-stitched machine zig-zag. The results were disappointing. Some sections had three layers, some two, some one. Uck! I don’t want to mess with this shit right now and maybe not ever.

It’ll be separate, smaller pieces, then. I just spent a fair amount of time making C’s blanket which involved less than satisfactory technique — the sashing, the lumpy quilting — or I might have more patience for such rogue improvisation.

With the world on fire, tried and true techniques feel like a kind of safe-haven. Self care, even. Things are hard enough.

I wrote this post last night. It looks like I’ll be spending today in the basement as well — unbelievable noise — near jack hammering (not the slightly muffled kind we’ve had a lot of the summer up on route 9) and incessant trucks beeping in reverse. A true noise hellscape. Moments ago: helicopters and sirens. The backyard neighbor’s construction crew hasn’t arrived yet.

* Handwritten quote above from Krista Tippet interview with Stephen Jenkins.