I took a long walk home yesterday, from my massage office, out along Chambers Road. There are already undeniable signs of spring cropping up all around. I heard a robin sing yesterday. I saw some pink cherry blossoms unfolded. The bay trees have scores of yellow blooms, just waiting for a sunny day to burst open. And I found the lance- and spade-shaped cotyledons of miner’s lettuce stretching above the fir-needled ground just before I reached my driveway. I even sampled a small taste. Mmmm, delicious!
But as much as I am delighted to see this collection of omens, I admit to a deeper sense of guilt and worry. It does seem a little early, doesn’t it? We only just passed the darkest hour of the year at solstice a few short weeks ago. My short-lived recollection of such seasonal markers seems to tell me that these things are occurring several weeks in advance of where I remember them last.
I tell myself that I have only been living on the south slope for less than three years. That the robins don’t leave, and just because I don’t hear them sing at my very house until February doesn’t mean they don’t sing earlier in other locations. That the expanse of warm daytime weather we had in November set the bay blossoms early. That we are still having nighttime frosts every time the sky is open to the stars. And yet, I am still uneasy. As a system’s thinker, I have a difficult time viewing the procession of blooms and the emergences of insects, and the arrival of birds outside of the context of appropriate timing for appropriate food supply. I know that variation happens from year to year and can affect outcomes for a particular poplulation. But we are potentially looking at an unprecedented shift of resources available for entire species. Entire species shifting their ranges north. And what of shifting weather patterns, driven by localized temperatures that make up larger gyrations of wind and rain?
It's unsettling to say the least, largely because I feel so powerless to do anything about it, in spite of having the sense of being able to register the changes. It reminds me of a poem by one of Drew's friends from college, Drew Dellinger. Here's an excerpt from it...
"it's 3:23 in the morning
and I'm awake
because my great great grandchildren
won't let me sleep
my great great grandchildren
ask me in my dreams
what did you do while the planet was plundered?
what did you do when the earth was unraveling?
surely you did something
when the seasons started failing?
as the mammals, reptiles, birds were all dying?
did you fill the streets with protest
when democracy was stolen?
what did you do
What have I done, now that I know? What have you done?