As I was on my way to the grocery store yesterday, I couldn’t help but notice the lawns here in town. They’re all so full and lush, a startling vibrant green that I tend to associate with spring time. Usually, at this point in the summer, the grass is a bit green, a lot brown, looking dried out and stressed.
Those of us who are not scientifically astute, who are middle aged (and then some) don’t question whether or not the weather patterns are changing. We know they are.
In the winters of my childhood, snow would begin to fall in November and stay until spring. You might get a January thaw, but there would still be plenty of snow left on the ground when that was over. You could cut a cross section of a snow bank and see the different snowfalls that had happened through the season. These days, snow comes, then melts, sometimes not staying put until mid to late January, if then.
We used to refer to August as the dog days of summer (pardon me if that is actually a quote I should credit somewhere, but that’s what we called them). The blistering heat of the season seemed to be focused in this month, and often carry over into the first two weeks of September.
The last few years have had, to my recollection, far more cooler days in August than I remember. It almost seems as if autumn starts earlier than it used to.
We’ve had so much rain lately, usually falling after two-thirty or three in the afternoon, my husband wondered if we weren’t somehow morphing into a tropical climate. I resisted the urge to say that if we were, it would certainly save us a lot of money for vacations.
I worry about this planet of ours. I wonder how long we can continue to abuse it and treat its resources as if they’re infinite before we pay a price more horrible than any of us can imagine.
We all share the blame for this, I think. I know that when I was a kid, we’d go to the beach – this would have been on Lake Ontario. Mom and Dad always brought the shampoo and the soap along. Before it was time to head home, we were trooped into the water, and made to wash our hair, and our bodies, through the bathing suits. Then rinse in the lake! We didn’t know at the time that it was a bad thing to do. Everyone did it.
But now we do know what’s bad for the environment. Now we have no excuses. And yet many of us refuse to accept what, to me, is right there in front of our eyes.
There used to be something we called ‘fresh air’. Certain days the light breeze brought air that smelled wonderful. I’m trying to think of words to describe it, and I can’t really. Not precisely. It was clean, fresh, pure. It seemed almost as if it was air in which the concentration of oxygen molecules was higher than normal. It made you want to inhale deeper than you really could. I won’t say that I haven’t experienced that for years, but I will say it’s a rare occurrence anymore.
We in the Ashbury household do what we can to reduce, reuse and recycle. We use reusable bags to fetch our groceries; we recycle our plastic, our cans, our cardboard; we have those more efficient curly light bulbs in our fixtures; we have refused the air conditioner this summer and are using fans instead; we wash all our laundry in cold water, and hang it on the line when weather permits; we make sure lights are off in rooms that are unoccupied.
I’d like to think that the little bit we do, combined with the little bit everyone else does, makes a difference. I’d like to believe that we won’t be too late, that we’ll somehow manage to reverse the damage these last couple of centuries have wrought on this living organism we call Earth. Maybe, on top of doing everything we can think to do—everything we’re able to do—we can positive-think good environmental results into existence.
And maybe, just maybe, my grandchildren’s children will be able to go outside on a clear night and see the northern lights, breathe in deep breaths of clean, wonderful air, and not have to live in fear of ecological disaster.