Thursday, January 25, 2018

Adapt or Die

It is mid-January in Arizona and I have just walked into the kitchen with a handful of tomatoes. That's right, tomatoes. Some will have to ripen indoors, but still, I have fresh tomatoes. Never in all my life has this happened. There was no die-back of the vines; no cold weather to tell the tomato plants another season had passed. There was no fall, there has been no winter. And in two weeks, my new tomato seedlings go into the ground for spring planting. Nothing like jumping from summer to spring.

Returning from my mountain cabin yesterday, I was dealing with a nosebleed. For the lack of rainfall, it is so dry in the mountains that by the third night I wake with a nosebleed, gagging from the dry air. Morning on the deck shows no signs of frost. It is too warm and there is no dew.

On the drive back I tune to a local radio station. The unhappy truth is that scientists have determined this is the longest stretch of drought in Arizona in nearly 700 years. I calculate that the last time this happened was just about the time that the Anasazi Indians disappeared from my state. And who could have blamed them? I think I'm having a rough time adapting? I'm guessing there were no grocery stores to run to when the rains didn't come. The Indians left to survive.

From our farm in Wisconsin, we get regular reports from our tenant, John. Weeks stretched on with temperatures below the zero mark on the thermometer. He talks of ice and cold but little snow. Apparently, these Wisconsin residents love to play in the snow but Mother Nature will not accommodate. Then the rains come. He sends us a picture of the farm across the road that looks like a lake. I wouldn't want to be the one to try to plant that field anytime soon and thank God I sit on higher ground.

Anyone in denial of climate change is clearly out of the loop. Climate change is no stranger to this planet, but during the last serious altercation in 1816, there were not as many hungry people on the planet. Still, there was untold suffering when crops failed.  The Year Without a Summer is a book worth the read if you want a first-hand account of what we may have to face. But instead of just one summer, it could be the rest of our lives.
Image result for starving polar bear

 If one is not connected to the planet, unlike garden-types like me, it is easy to miss the subtle changes. But the big changes, such as entire glaciers melting before our very eyes and animals staved for nourishment, yeah, those are hard to ignore. Greed and power will dictate how we will face our changing climate. This saddens me but I take heart in knowing I can adapt by altering my planting schedule and finding heartier plant varieties to feed my family.  I stress over limited water in Arizona and too much water in Wisconsin; hotter temperatures in Arizona and cooler temperatures in Wisconsin. Nothing seems right and I'm starting to feel like Alice in Wonderland when she is tumbling down the rabbit hole. "What if I should fall right through the center of the earth...oh, and come out the other side where people walk upside down?"

Adapt, Alice. We all have to adapt.

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