Yesterday the Mueller report dropped with completely unsatisfying results. Mueller started his probe before my husband died. For two years, it, and the national political nightmare, has been draped over my personal grief. When I heard the news I felt myself sinking. Next I found out that some medical test results I was expecting are lost in the morass of my clinic. After waiting for weeks, I get to wait again. That’s frustrating.
Then there is the steady streams of spam phone calls pouring into my supposedly opted-out telephone, day in, day out. I finally got a service to field them all. I get to listen to the recordings and decide if the caller should be permanently blocked. The most recent one was threatening lawsuits against me and my entire family about some mystery tax liabilities. Pity the people who get intimidated and respond to these predators.
This is modern life. Flooded with news, bureaucratic incompetence and trolls trying to score money from cowed innocents. Well. I’m not going to let any of this weighty, exhausting garbage steal my moments in the present. I’m getting my spring. I want it and I need it. So here goes.
At last, spring seems to be getting ready to settle in and send this relentless winter on its way. I’m aware that I choose to live in a place where four seasons are the natural cycle. I’ve always been a fan of two, fall and spring. Summer and winter, not so much. My thermostat runs hot, both physically and mentally. In summer, I’m in a constant battle with sweat. I’ve always found it embarrassing and uncomfortable. I can usually be seen with a visor to absorb the water pouring down my head and rolling into my eyes, and I usually have a towel slung over my shoulder.
My arrogant blue blood mother-in-law would look down her nose at me as I mopped myself from head to toe and announce, “WE don’t sweat.” A swipe at my peasant heritage, I suppose. Winter presented more complex problems. I knew it was cold and dressed appropriately but would quickly get too warm and start unzipping and pulling off all the layers. My sister told me that her vision of me in winter was coat open, flapping in the wind, mittens off and socks rolled down in my boots. When I was a kid, I remember the joy of the first warmer temperatures of spring. The cool air still bit my skin, but I would be barelegged in my cotton dresses as I strolled to school, feeling free and unencumbered by the weight of winter’s demands.
I always spent as much time as I could outside, playing in the streets and alleyways of Chicago until dusk came or my mother called out, whichever came first. As time has gone by and my life has changed, the advent of spring means getting back into the garden, digging in the dirt. I guess that’s still a form of play for me. With the wild weather events of the past few years and my firm belief in the science of climate change, I worry for the future of this planet. I’m watching my garden for signals of change. Recent springs have been a mixed bag. A year ago today, I went with my family to a March for Our Lives demonstration. The weather was brutal.
I’ve compared photos of my garden over the past several years. A bit of everything has been tossed at my space in terms of weather extremes. My snowy photos conceal perennials which were ready to pop, only to be submerged under inches of snow.
Then there are the ones in which everything seems perfect, the blooms popping up exactly when the packaging said they would. For those of us who plant on an optimistic timetable, hoping that new flowers will emerge just when the earlier ones are dying back, that cascade of color is the gardener’s victory.
Some people scoff at climate change theory because they think that as long as there is cold and hot we’re ok. But that’s not how it works. The intensity and frequency of the winter storms are the issue as will be the intensity of summer heat, dryness and/or rains. I’ve heard a lot of comments about hundred year storms. Except they’re coming regularly in each season. The hurricanes and cyclones in recent years have been increasing in frequency and intensity. Floods, fires and mudslides have been cataclysmic in many areas. There’s very little that I can do our there in the big world to contend with these issues. So I’m focusing on my small part of the world.
I’ve finally gotten outside long enough to check out my perennials. Some are emerging slowly and others seem to be following an average trajectory. For the past two months, I’ve been alarmed about a drop off of birds at my feeders. That seemed directly related to the polar vortex that stuck around in the Midwest for what felt like eternity. But of course, the vortex, like, everything else, passed. The birds are back in force. Today when I came home from running errands there were multiple species enjoying a midday meal.
I think that for what’s left in my lifetime, the “all things must pass” adage will be true. I hope for the sake of the ones who come after me that the planet is not beyond redemption and that brilliant, tactical scientists and their supporters will find ways of recovering what’s already been lost. If not recovery, then at least a new approach that will preserve the diversity of the natural world. For now, all I can do is enrich the space that I’m lucky enough to own.
I’m planting and feeding and creating habitat for as many creatures as I can entice into my yard. I want bees and butterflies and hummingbirds. I want my perennial milkweed to return this year so I can draw the many monarchs who visited last year. I want the other butterflies as well.