Tag Archives: global warming

Sign of Spring

Bbrrrrr!! Here I am, sitting in the Deep South, freezing my butt off. I know that for many of you twenty degrees Fahrenheit seems like a heat wave, but it’s plenty cold for me. I mean, yesterday was the coldest New Year’s Day we have seen in my neck of the woods in sixteen years.

That may not seem like global warming, but it is climate change. More frequent and more extreme climate patterns. Not just weather, but climate. There is a difference. And yes, Donald, I said it. Climate change. Because it’s real. And at least in part due to human activity.

When I was a kid we would drive to the Philadelphia airport and I was always mesmerized by the sight of the oil refineries at night. Brilliant yellow flames climbing high into the night, leaping out of dozens of pipes where gases were burned off as part of the refining process.

If a company that owns one of these refineries has voting rights in our country, and can thus be considered to be human, then humans are playing a role in climate change. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to get it. And Donald, if you would get your head out of….the sand and stop denying the science, you’d get it too.

But I digress and am far afield from my intended subject. Here on this particular frigid night I have hopes for the return of Spring.

At one time, in some places, the return of Robin Red Breast was heralded as a sign of the coming Spring. I don’t think birds migrate the way they used to so the sight of a robin these days isn’t as meaningful as it once was. Climate change. Damn, there I go again!

But today I did see something that I thought could only be a sign of spring. While I sat at a stoplight I was watching the traffic moving perpendicular to me, through the green light. I’m used to seeing a wide variety of vehicles travelling this road, but this was a rare sighting indeed. No, not some kind of bird or other wildlife.

It was two tractor trailers carrying boats. Big new boats wrapped tightly in white plastic. Three boats, probably measuring twenty feet each, stacked up on each truck’s trailer.

Surely new boats headed to a marina or showroom for sale could only mean that spring was approaching. And close behind would be Summer and many days spent on those boats on lakes, rivers and oceans near and far.

I’d like to buy a boat. But mine won’t be one of those fancy new ones, clad in its protective white plastic wrap. Mine will be someone else’s hand me down. And I’ll be happy with that.

I’m looking forward to warm days on the lake, riding on my boat. And then I can tell you all about the one hundred degree heat!

That’s part of my story. What’s yours?

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I Love A Parade

There were no giant flying inflatable characters. No Broadway dancers. This wasn’t the Macy’s Parade, or even New York City. But it had all the bells and whistles, and a few horns thrown in for fun. It was a small town America Christmas Parade.

Parades have always been a great attraction for me. Back in the day, Labor Day was the only Monday holiday. Thanksgiving and Easter have their own system of date selection, but the other holidays fell on a certain calendar day.

Memorial Day was always May 30. No matter the day of the week. Now that it is celebrated more as the unofficial start of summer, the actual date is less important than getting a three day holiday. And so, it is the last Monday in May.

I was born on Memorial Day. When it was May 30. And in my town there was always a parade that day. My father told me it was for me! And, yes, for many years I believed that. Wow! Marching bands, throngs of people, military displays. Even a tank!

Knowing now that there never has, and most likely never will be a parade for me, I still love parades. The sounds, the flash, the crowds, the spectacle of it all. Big or small, as long as the show goes on.

This years Christmas parade in my small town was much like it is every year. But the weather was a tad warmer. There was a fire truck to lead it off. From the volunteer company. And there was a high school marching band. And baton twirlers. There was a brigade of mountain bicycle riders, performing stunts. And a line of antique cars including the Volkswagen Club, and the private collection of a local citizen who owns an example of every version of 1932 Ford Model A ever built.

There were horseback riders. And a pooper scooper. And to top off the animal participants there was a poodle dressed as an angel. The Mayor and town council were on a float. Several local businesses had made up floats that were pulled behind their pick-up trucks. And there were Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts and Girl Scouts.

The karate school brought all of their students to march and show off their skills. But a crowd favorite is always the tractor parade. It’s a small town, built on farming. Hence… John Deere, Farmall, International Harvester, and Ford. Tractors of red, blue and green. Large, small, fancy, simple. Each well loved. Each a workhorse.

All along the route the paraders were tossing out candy to the crowd. But the biggest attraction was on the fire truck bringing up the rear. Yes, you guessed it. It was the jolly old elf himself! Santa Claus. Just like the Macy’s Parade.

The crowd watching all of this, whooping and hollering, shouting out to friends and family, was numbered in the thousands. Two or three thousand anyway. Many more than the population of this small town.

They had come from the town, and from the suburbs, and from the rural hinterlands. They gathered without concern for what made them different. It was their similarities that brought them together. And they were all having a good time together.

Small town.   Big city. Parades are a grand spectacle and fine American tradition. I love a parade.

That’s part of my story. What’s yours?

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Earth Day

It’s not too late, because as we keep track of time, it’s not quite midnight so it must still be today. And today is Earth Day. I planted a tree.

I know, Earth Day is about a lot more than planting a tree. It’s loving the Earth, and working toward her protection. It’s using her resources wisely and wasting nothing. Solar power, hydroelectric. Do away with fossil fuels. And plant some trees. I know all of that.

About ten years ago I wanted to celebrate Earth Day at the college where I worked. So I planted a tree. I was the only one to come out for the ceremony. It was a birch tree. Beautiful. Last time I checked, it had BEEN CHOPPED DOWN. BUT guess what? That is not gonna stop me.

Today I planted another tree. Don’t misinterpret. It wasn’t all about Earth Day and saving the world. I had a small sapling that I had bought at a nursery, and it needed a permanent home. Just so happened that I found that home and planted it on Earth Day. Or was it a coincidence?

I think that the stars aligned and the spirits of the universe came together to tell me- plant that tree today.

Earth Day is a day for celebrations and statements. But a love of Mother Earth is a daily thought, without thinking. Its something we do if we really believe. Yes, the climate is changing. Its April and 85 degrees. Those among us who deny, or disbelieve, are passé. Or stupid. Or motiveated in some strange way by money to deny the facts. I think its all bout money, and the folks who don’t believe have some reason to believe in cash.

Whatever. I believe. And I planted a tree. To clean our air and give us oxygen. So when I am choking in the soot and smoke of coal fired energy plants, or burning carbon monoxide of combustible engines, I can say, damn, if only those bastards had believed in global warming I might live to see another sunrise. Peace out folks!

That’s part of my story. What’s yours?

www.personalhistorywriter.com

 

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The Dust Cloud

In old western movies if you saw a cloud of dust on the horizon you knew it was one of two things. Making all of that dust was either a troop of cavalry coming to rescue the settlers under attack by evil villains, or a pack of evil villains coming to attack. Either way, it was a bunch of people riding horses. And headed in your direction quickly.

That was old westerns. In my back yard a cloud of dust means my dog is playing fetch. She’s not like that kid Pigpen in the Charlie Brown cartoons who travels around inside his own personal dust cloud, created by his less than civilized personal hygiene habits. She stays pretty clean, although she does shed a lot of hair. All the time and everywhere she goes. No, the dust cloud is exactly that- a cloud of dust created by her rambunctious play.

Whether or not you believe in climate change, this year has been the hottest and driest on record where I live. It’s five days before Thanksgiving and for the first time since May the temperature has dropped below 80 degrees. And no, I don’t live in Hawaii, or California, or Florida. And with all that heat, we’ve also been the fortunate recipients of a fifteen inch rainfall deficit. The water level in the local lakes is down by several feet and the green green grass of home looks more like tumbleweed blowing across the desert.

Back to the dog. She likes to exercise, as any puppy would. Since she is a German Sheppard, she likes to play a lot, and strenuously. Fetch is good. I find a small log in the woods, something maybe eighteen inches long and three or four inches in diameter, and I throw it as hard as I can. As soon as she sees me starting to wind up she takes off at full sprint speed. I think she could take a cheetah in a hundred yard dash.

Since I broke my shoulder a couple of years ago my throwing arm isn’t like it was when I pitched for the sandlot sluggers. The dog is well past where the stick will land by the time it sails through the air. But she happily comes back for it, grabs it with her teeth and brings it back for another toss. I prefer a smaller tree branch to the tree trunks she likes so sometimes we compromise. She will bring a six foot long branch to me which is only two inches across. The damn things are so heavy and cumbersome I can barely throw them but she’s got the thing in her mouth running around with two inches on one side and the rest unbalanced, but firmly held.

Another game she likes to play is biting at my hands and feet. Sometimes it hurts so I’m glad she is just playing. She could probably bite either of my appendages off quite easily. But ten or fifteen tosses of the stick usually satisfies her.

And the dust cloud? As she thunders across the dry grass in the yard she will slam on her brakes when she knows it’s time to catch or pick up the falling stick. She slides across the yard and tears up the grass and stirs up the dust. There are now places in the yard where the loose and bare soil is about three inches deep. When she hits that patch of dirt at full speed and puts on the brakes, a huge cloud of dust erupts. I’m sure the neighbors see the cloud rising above the fence and think I’m using a bulldozer to dig a hole to the center of the Earth.

Oddly enough, having her chase the stick also allows me to give the arid lawn some water. She gets so excited chasing that stupid stick that starts to foam at the mouth. The slobber gets all over the stick, which then gets covered with dust that turns to mud. Globs of slob fly out of her mouth as she runs. Her fur gets covered with the stuff, as does the ground. And the stick. Sometimes that stick is so slobbery that when I throw it I loose my grip and it slips out of my hands. Bad throw daddy she barks. And brings it again.

The cloud of dust makes me laugh. She is silly. And loyal. And playful. But we really do need some rain.

That’s part of my story. What’s yours? www.personalhistorywriter.com

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Tree Cemeteries

Wraaaahh! Whruummmm!  Chain saw in the distance.  Which direction?  Maybe more than one.  Every day the chain saws and the grinding.  Still cleaning up the mess.  From the looks of it, they will never get finished.

It was one hell of a Halloween trick in October of 2012.  Superstorm Sandy came ashore in New Jersey and then pummeled the entire East Coast.  The chain saws I hear are those in a small area of Pennsylvania near my parent’s house.  The landscape of their property is greatly changed as I view it five months later.

There are empty spots where trees used to line the front walkway.  A new pile of cut up wood in the barn.  But mostly there are dozens of trees fallen and broken, lying on the ground and atop one another.  What used to be a neat wooded area of apple and maple and oak trees now looks like someone took the contents of several dozen log trucks and dumped them at random in this area.  An impenetrable jumbled mess.

Maybe if I could rent a chain saw, and a log splitter, and a commercial grade tree mulcher and worked eight hours a day for a month I could clear this area.  Less than twenty percent of their property.  Certainly within six months…  maybe.  Wait a minute.  I don’t live in Pennsylvania, I’m visiting for a weekend.  And I have a job I have to go to.  Damn.  It will never get done.

There is one sign of progress in the yard.  Where the walkway meets he driveway, where there used to be two towering fir trees, there is now a nice area of thick mulch.  Freshly ground fir trees from the looks of it.  Hmmmm.

I see these piles of mulch everywhere.  Every home seems to have one in their yard.  Some are the remnants of a single tree.  Others look like a dump truck load, like I used to have to pay for to landscape my yard.  And in still other places there are piles that look as if they were left by the trainload.  I see a house where the entire yard is nothing but mulch.

And yet each home also still has piles of fallen trees.  These aren’t dainty and petite trees.  They are fifty-foot tall trees with hundreds if not thousands of branches.  Six inches, a foot, two and three feet in diameter.  Big ass trees.  Really big!  There are undeveloped tracts of wooded space where no work has been done.  Trees, trees and more trees on the ground.  As if a tornado had gone through and flattened everything.  Most visible as you look at the hillsides. 

My dad told me the neighbors had thirty trees knocked down, neatly, like soldiers marching in rank felled simultaneously.  They were gone now, and a vast emptiness had replaced them.  It will take years for new trees to grow back and fill the voids.  It will take years to clean up the now dead trees.  If we wait long enough they may rot before they can be cut up.

And what of the environmental impact?  Thousands of photosynthesizers no longer at work.  More carbon dioxide into the environment, less oxygen.   Increased global warming?  Not to mention the problems associated with increased water runoff and soil erosion.

It took a long time to create the trees, but only a few moments to take them away.  It’s a sad sight.  If this is what has happened here, I can only imagine the damage caused over the entire area of the East Coast.  It will take forever to clean it up.  I need to get started.

That’s part of my story.  What’s yours?   www.personalhistorywriter.com

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Secrets in the Surprise

I don’t like surprises.  But I do like it when good things come my way.  Yesterday was a good day.  And kind of a surprise.  The temperature was seventy-five degrees.  In January!  And I’m not talking Hawaii.

This is Georgia.  The weatherman says it’s not too unusual to have a few warm days in January, but this one seemed like a fluke.  It was the one I’ve been waiting for.  Might have been a warm front moving in.  Or a cold front moving out.  Global warming?  I leave the hows and whys to the weatherman.  I just knew it was a good day to get out on the scooter for a ride in the country.

I love my scooter.  It goes fast.  It gives me freedom.  It confuses people because it’s not a little scooter, but it’s not really a motorcycle.  Suits me well.  I like to get out on it and ride the country roads.  Get lost in my thoughts.  Lost on the roads too.  But you can’t get too lost.  No GPS, just a natural concept of which way to go.  In reality, if you don’t have a specific destination, it doesn’t matter which way you go.  That’s mainly how I ride.

My path took me over forty miles.  All paved roads this time.  One lane sometimes, but paved.  I know my way around most of these roads because I’ve ridden them all before, but I did find one new place.  I had seen the turnoff before, but I never realized it was actually a road.  It looked like it went to the parking lot of the recycling center.  But when I turned off the main road, I noticed that the road split, with one fork going to the recycling center, and the other going behind it to who knows where.

It turned out to be just a little loop of a road that came back to the main road.  But I saw houses, farms and fields I never knew were there.  And a little cemetery.  I didn’t stop this time because it looked like it was on someone’s private property.  There couldn’t have been more than ten or fifteen markers.  It was starting to be grown over.  Exploring there is for another day.

Its gonna get cold again soon and I won’t have another opportunity to ride for a while.  But I learned once again that we have to take advantage of opportunities when they appear to us.  And that in doing so, we may be surprised, pleasantly, by what we can find.

That’s part of my story.  What’s yours?  http://www.personalhistorywriter.com

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