Good morning, Gardeners.
As Memorial Day puts the end to what we call the spring season, the temperature today is forecast to hit 91 degrees. Pretty warm for this time of year And it makes me think back to February and March, when winter was waning and the temperatures were way above normal.
I remember the utter joy of that early spring. We all felt it. Who but the most ardent skier could help practically skipping for joy when the flowers and trees started blossoming and the sun warmed our bare heads weeks before we could have reasonably expected?
I also remember reading at the time a comment from a writer who wished the world could be like the movies and have foreboding music piped in so people would know that this weather was not something they should be happy about and that we should be thinking of what it meant vis-à-vis climate change. I wrote about that and the worries farmers at the PASA Conference were expressing concerning the warm winter.
But then I went on enjoying not having to have a fire going 24 hours a day, putting in some early plants and harvesting asparagus. The normal freezes that followed the warmth I first tried to hold off by covering things and then just tolerated as I waited for Spring to come to stay.
It came. I got busy and, if I thought of that early warmth, it was to wish I had taken advantage of it better in my garden. But then I heard last weekend that friends and Millheim Market farmers, the Macneals of Macneal Orchards and Sugarbush, wouldn’t be at Market regularly because they lost 85% of their fruit crop. I lost 100% of mine, at least the tree fruits (I still have berries), but then, my trees are young and still produce sporadically and lightly anyway. I didn’t worry overmuch. I would do as I always have and get the cherries, pears, and apples I cellar, freeze, and dry for winter eating at the Farmers’ Markets.
Cue the music.
Some of you are perhaps thinking, oh, too bad for the Macneals! Nice people. I hope they have other sources of income. But you, Julie: get your apples from Washington, your peaches from Georgia, your cherries from Wisconsin, your pears from…wherever pears grow. Heck, you never have do go a day without anything you choose. That’s the good thing of having global trade.
And it is. Personally, I try not to take advantage of it, but I pass through the produce section when I go to the supermarket. I see what my coworkers are breaking out for lunch. I know I’m in the minority. But what I hadn’t really thought about is how the two things are connected. The fact that we have raspberries all winter, that recipes today call for ingredients that don’t come fresh in a given area anywhere near the same time, mean we are pumping greenhouse gases into the air so that we don’t have to think locally. That we don’t have to ever delay until summer the pleasure of eating a tomato or a melon.
It’s here that I’d like to point you to another blog, the only one I currently have a link to on the Learning Garden’s blog site (and where you can get to his site to read the whole of the post I quote below). John Michael Greer has had an absolutely fantastic series of posts since around February, documenting the history of empires and how that of the United States is following the same path. (Short aside: I put them all in order in a Word document to print out for my husband, who doesn’t like to read for long periods on a screen. If anyone wants it to print out or wants to borrow it when Pat is done with his printout, let me know.)
Anyway, his most recent 2 posts have been about how the only way to change the world is to change ourselves first:
Consider the book review I critiqued in last week’s post. One of the bits of rhetoric the reviewer used to dismiss my suggestion that social change has to be founded in personal change was the claim that "you can’t end rape [just] by not raping anyone." Perhaps so, but as one of my readers pointed out (tip of the archdruidical hat here to Ozark Chinquapin), someone who claimed to oppose rape would normally be expected to demonstrate that commitment by, at the very least, not raping anyone; an antirape movement that claimed that rapes committed by its members didn’t matter, because it was working to end rape everywhere, would rightly be dismissed as an exercise in extreme hypocrisy. Yet you’ll hear the identical logic from people in a good deal of the environmental movement, who insist that they can’t be bothered to lighten the burden their lifestyles place on the planet because they’re going to save the Earth all at once.
Work out the practical implications of that argument, in other words, and it amounts to a justification for clinging to the comforts and privileges of the modern industrial lifestyle even at the expense of one’s supposed ideals.
Even at the expense of one’s friends’ livelihoods. Even at the expense of our children’s grandchildren’s futures. Even at the expense of the natural world I love and we all depend on.
I sit here typing away on my laptop, with the electric coffeemaker helping keep me awake, the refrigerator humming, the kitchen light on even though, as I’ve composed this tome, the daylight has increased enough to do without it. I have plans to drive into State College this evening to have supper with friends, all of whom live within reasonable walking distance of my house. I plan to do laundry today, and if I have the time, to hang it to dry instead of using the electric drier. If I don’t, well, I’m busy. I’m busy.
I can’t think right now of a snappy, optimistic wrap-up to this post. It seems every day I read or hear something that makes me tell myself I really need to change my life. It may be that I use this blog to share those things, share my trials and inevitable errors. Please share yours. I could use the company.