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soft summer morns…

August 18, 2015

Despite all the beauty we saw in Prague, it was pretty hard to ignore the fact that it was 40+C much of the time we were there – or that it hadn’t rained there since the spring. (And that we played a small part in that by flying over there.)

The grass of their vast park system had long since died, coating the ground in light-brown straw. The leaves of the trees had curled in on themselves and were turning brown. Many were already on the ground. And on those days when the temperature creeped up near 45C, your brain almost instantly started melting into the cobblestone if you stepped out of the shade.

…only to come back to Halifax where after almost three weeks of continuous rain, the temperature is now in the low-mid-30’s – in a part of the world where a hot day in August used to be 25C. Old-time Maritimers die in this kind of heat. (There is just too much English, and Scotch, and Irish in them for this tropical insanity.) Most homes still don’t have air conditioning – because they have never before ever needed it.

It has been a pretty gloomy summer on the global warming / climate change front. The western half of North America is now in a full-drought situation. Like a new virus that first broke out in California 4-5 years ago – and to which California has now been driven to its knees by thirst – the drought conditions then spread into Washington State and B.C. and now over much of the American mid-west and Canadian prairies. Forest fires are breaking out everywhere in the great north-west forests. Vancouver residents are now living with mandatory water restrictions.

Water restrictions in Vancouver! Imagine that! The city where it used to rain 250 days of the year.

Alberta farmers say that the drought has killed off somewhere between 30-60% of their crops this year.

Edmonton, Manitoba, and Ontario now see tornados on a yearly basis. A recent twister in Manitoba was measured as a Magnitude 4. Such news was virtually unheard of when I was a kid, and when it did happen – it was seen as spectacular news! Now we think no more of them then we do when we hear of a tornado in Kansas.

For only the second time in known history the Amazon Rainforest is experiencing a drought. (The other only time was 10 years ago.) Amazon forest fires, we now know, are much worse than the forest fires up here. Most tree species in the Amazon have no experience with fires and therefore no resistance. Unlike here where our tree species have developed seeds that can withstand most forest fire temperatures, where grasses grow back next year – in the rainforest, 50-70% of species are just cremated in their entirety. (The Amazon valley has more bio-diversity in a single square 1/2 km, than all of the forests of North America combined.)

Environmental scientists who still have a sense of humor recently noted that the new El Nino they are watching build in the Pacific – that super-current that runs up the length of Pacific North America – is, by its size and temperature – actually the reincarnation of Godzilla. They say they have never measured an El Nino of this magnitude before. Which is why they are calling it “Godzilla” when they describe it to the media.

Which is funny, because Godzilla was a silly B-movie about a monster that occasionally comes out of the sea to destroy civilization. Ha-ha.

Palestine is on the brink of running out of water. And conservative Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says Israel will not give them a drop. …How do you think that will go over?

My friend said she found someone silly enough to buy her condo on the waterfront in South Florida, while she moves to higher ground in South Carolina. She’s read the best research, which currently predicts that South Florida (Miami included) will disappear back into the sea within the next 15 years. There will be a million environmental refugees – she said she didn’t want to be one of them.

(Taking a more pro-active approach, San Francisco no longer allows development on city shorelines they predict will no longer exist in 10 years.)

But for a few moments, on such glorious summer mornings such as today, when it is about 18C at sunrise, and the Atlantic air is as soft as cotton – when the cats lounge luxuriously on the back deck (they spent the day yesterday sleeping in front of the fan) – and the coffee is rich and creamy – and the neighborhood bagel is fresh – for a moment, this all drifts away in the beauty of the moment, and I think of Thoreau, or Rilke, or Jane Austin – and all the other people who recognize that being in nature – even for five minutes – is a mystical experience.

And I smile to myself thinking about the fact that we are fortunate enough (privileged enough) to be able to move back to the farm for the next year. Going back to the horses, and the chickens, and the fields and the forest, and the great flocks of birds that will soon be passing through on their way south.

My partner has never lived in the country in the fall. This will be her first harvest season – her first pickling and canning season – getting-the-last-of-the-winter’s-wood-in season. She wants my mom and her sisters to teach her how to make a guilt.

She has never smelt a wet fall forest on a warm October day. When it is as if the earth itself – and all that is alive in it – has turned the forest into a giant perfume store straight out of Tom Robbins’ Jitterbug Perfume.

She has never smelt fresh cut hay piled to the rafters in the barn.

Canoed in fall colors – when the entire lake has been painted red, orange, yellow. green, indigo.

She has never had a horse whisper hot wet secrets into her ear under a midnight harvest moon.

This afternoon Halifax will again bake beneath the heat and the sun. But for right now, summer is green and lush and soft; our one now cat rolls on her back, while the other walks the top of the wooden fence like a great tiger on the hunt…

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