A cheery note about Weather!

I promise, next time I will write about bear poop.

After the wondrous strange beauty of the eclipse, now the sun shines blood red in a sky full of smoke, ashfall dulling every leaf, every shiny surface. The days feel heavy. Our native forests burn.

Tuesday, the sun glowed red-orange all day. The dog lay listless, a flat slab in the dust that used to be a green field. Even morning was muggy and hot. My shirt stuck to my back as we spread wood chips for a new crop of Sword Ferns (Polystichum munitum). Every so often I found myself not thinking entirely clearly; I forgot what I had planned to do just a moment before, or I said something that didn’t make sense, garbling my words.

What to make of this portentous weather? Climate change? The evidence is piling up. Here, right now: a record-breakingly wet winter followed by a record dry summer.  Elsewhere — in the southeastern part of the USA and South Asia — storms, hurricanes, floods. If not quite apocalyptic, at least akin to science fiction. Climate change models predict that here in the maritime parts of the Northwest we will get wetter winters and drier summers.

But it could be that this year is just an exaggeration of the weather pattern in which native plants and Seattleites have evolved to thrive: rainy winters and summer drought. Just a one-time anomaly. Don’t you think?

I would prefer climate change stay in the realm of science fiction. In fact, I really don’t want to know about climate change. I don’t want to hear about it. I don’t want to deal with it. I just want to live my life and go back to the genteel days when weather was a light topic for everyday chitchat, especially useful when socializing with those of opposite political viewpoints: everyone can agree to complain about the rain in the winter or joke about the summers in Seattle being three days long.

This is how I really feel. But the wildfire smoke, the oppressive wraparound smoke: I wake in the wee hours with a sore throat. The smoke reminds me of my place, a creature enveloped in creation. No attempt to hold myself apart from or above nature will succeed. My every breath confirms that something is wrong in the world of nature; it is wrong in our very depths. Any power we have should not be wasted on escape attempts, but wielded creatively and helpfully to craft solutions. What can we come up with?

If we can’t talk about weather for fun anymore, maybe we can enjoy our native plants together. We can admire the changing colors on Vine Maple (Acer circinatum) leaves. We can talk about which is cuter, purple-flowered Early Blue Violet (Viola adunca)  or the four-foot tall pink flower clusters of Henderson’s Checkermallow (Sidalcea hendersonii). We can agree that Twinflower (Linnaea borealis) is one of the most exquisite groundcovers on the planet (and even though it only grows four or five inches high, it is classified as a woody shrub).

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