Tag Archives: climate crisis

Notes from April 2021

Indulge me. Otherwise where will all these passages live? I randomly opened a writing group notebook and found this prompt response. I may do more of this.

Not that you need to know to appreciate my response, but these words were written about six months after my brother’s hemorrhagic stroke. The novel mentioned is Leave the World Behind by Rumaan Alam.

Who’s to say why the coagulation goes awry and what shoves the blob skyward to lung or brain? I don’t mean chemistry, but rather destiny.

Flannery O’Connor said anyone with a childhood has enough to write about for a lifetime. Two things: what if you don’t remember is one, the other is had she lived past 39 would the assertion have held?

Next up: a novel written about end times. A white couple in their forties rents a house from a Black couple in their sixties. The initial conflict centers on sympathetic flexibility — to exercise it or not — toward the Black couple. One of the younger characters in defense of helping them out keeps repeating, because they’re so old.

I’m so old. What an unexpected place to land critiquing a novel.

The radiology tech ticks through her questions: surgeries, Jewish genes, forebears with breast cancer. No. No. No. The final No gets an asterisk — none of my forebears having lived long enough. Same regarding hip fractures.

Without looking back (to childhood), what is there to say? My socks are damp. I hear a truck passing on Route 9. For some reason, my ears are ringing. What’s for lunch?

If I wrote an end times novel, the first floor would fill with water and the deer would swim all the way to Worcester to claim higher ground. Wouldn’t we be clever, crafting a boat out of an armoire, diving into the pantry to claim all those cans of beans and a can opener. He did scuba. I can sew. Does anything ensure survival?

The water froze on Saturday. A beautiful skim of ice not welcome or expected in the white ceramic pot outside where it awaits spring annuals.

Beautiful, cheerful, colorful spring annuals. Let the adjectives march off a cliff after I fill my pot. I want the thing instead of its description.

One child gets the bum thyroid, another my soft teeth. Their father imparted a singular disinclination to converse.

Check the bloods! Get the teeth polished! This week I learned that most hip fractures are from falling sideways.

It still knocks me back to hear my doctor ask, “Have you sustained any fractures that you know of?”

Husband and I would paddle out the second story window and collect the neighborhood cats, relieved that at least we wouldn’t have to listen to children screaming at the nearby playground anymore. The school and its surround submerged.

So much of privilege comes down to being able to effectively manage one’s annoyances.

Raucous, repetitious, grating. Adjectives that speak to the inability to control things.

Last week, I said to the Dive Master, “We’ve got a screamer this year. First period.” I blame the teachers.

He hasn’t donned a scuba mask in years and most of my sewing is of decorative items. Make a top why don’t you? Cover the goddamned ripped chair?

Marshaling skills in non-income producing venues is another sign of privilege.

Soon I shall reduce myself, not to a fine, ineluctable syrup, dense with flavor and mystery, but to apology. I am sorry. I am so, so sorry.

Everything is happening at once. The reefs dying off, the burning of the West, forests under stress. And here we are twiddling our thumbs as if we had all the time in the world.

I am sorry. I am so, so sorry.

Destructive, greedy, corrupt or willfully blind. Those adjectives feel necessarily to name what gets in the way.

Not to be too reductive. But it’s white men, specifically Republicans.

Chomsky called the GOP ‘the most destructive organization on the planet.’

Noun — GOP. Adjective — destructive. We get tired, all of us, tracking the damage. The clot gathering density, the vein about to collapse and send blood northward, glacial ice one-fourth the size of Rhode Island letting loose.

I got cold. Put on a sweater. My feet feel dry now. Sometimes that’s all we have — the noticing of damp, the preference for non-damp, and the gratitude for dry socks.

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.

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.