Friday, March 28, 2014

When does Spring get sprung?

Every so often, I have to take a hard look around me and admit that the problem isn't with the world, it's with my expectations. This is one of those times. We all know that the March temperature has been running 7.5 or so degrees below average. But that's an abstract metric that needs to be related to reality. I took a look at some photos from around the end of March for the past six or seven years. Here's what the back yard looked like on March 31, 2007.

Snow-free back yard, March 31, 2007
Snow-free by April 2007          © harrington

I can remember quite a few April trout fishing trips in which the world, and much of the water, was brown or tan. Winter was over but there was no real sign of Spring. And there have been years like 2012, when April 2 yielded open water and leaves starting to open on the local trees.

April 2, 2012: water and leaves open
April 2, 2012: water and leaves open    © harrington

Then, as we all remember too well (unless somehow we repressed the memory) there was last Spring (to use the term very loosely). On April 19,  after much of Winter's snow had melted, we got to enjoy this encore:

mid-April snow, 2013
mid-April snow, 2013           © harrington

All of which makes me very dubious about comparing today's local weather with anything. Weather is too highly variable. Climate, on the other hand, is all about statistics, long term trends and a scope approaching the global. According to recent reports, we'd best figure out how to adapt to the kind of extreme weather events that will make the differences between Minnesota's "early" and "late" starts to Spring seem like child's play. Why, because we can't, or won't, overcome our addiction to fossil fuels. Homo sapiens (Latin: "wise man"), indeed! By the time we change, or burn all we can "economically recover," we may all be living in Dante's Fourth Circle of Hell.

Trying to Name What Doesn’t Change

By Naomi Shihab Nye 
Roselva says the only thing that doesn’t change
is train tracks. She’s sure of it.
The train changes, or the weeds that grow up spidery   
by the side, but not the tracks.
I’ve watched one for three years, she says,
and it doesn’t curve, doesn’t break, doesn’t grow.

Peter isn’t sure. He saw an abandoned track
near Sabinas, Mexico, and says a track without a train   
is a changed track. The metal wasn’t shiny anymore.   
The wood was split and some of the ties were gone.

Every Tuesday on Morales Street
butchers crack the necks of a hundred hens.   
The widow in the tilted house
spices her soup with cinnamon.
Ask her what doesn’t change.

Stars explode.
The rose curls up as if there is fire in the petals.   
The cat who knew me is buried under the bush.

The train whistle still wails its ancient sound   
but when it goes away, shrinking back
from the walls of the brain,
it takes something different with it every time. 

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