Saturday, November 7, 2009

Climate Change Craziness

I don't call it "global warming"; I call it "global weirding".

When we had a run of hard frosts and cold, wet weather on the early side of normal--early October--I heard a lot of mumbling from folks predicting an early, long, hard, cold winter. But I didn't bat an eye...I just had this hunch that it would warm up again and we'd have a gorgeous "Indian Summer" with weeks of bright, warm sunny afternoons.

And so we have it. I'm very glad I followed that hunch and planted a bunch of crops in late Sept. They are growng very quickly now, and we're starting to harvest new beds of arugula, kale, tat soi, mizuna, and salad turnips, with bok choi and lettuce soon to come.

How did I know the weather would do that? A little bird told me--or rather, a lot of birds of all sizes.

In August and Sept., I didn't see the usual huge flights of migratory birds, either while driving the bus or while working on the farm. No vast miles and miles of starlings and grackles and blackbirds, swirling from fields to trees to telephone wires in fascinating amoebic clouds. No thousands of brilliant gulls soaring high in the sky, almost invisible, so that the more you look the more you realize are there. No stately undulating V formations of hundreds of white pelicans, drafting each other like bicycle racers, flap-flap-flap gliiiiiiiiiiide. And no geese.

When we had the cold spell, there were no geese flying south in front of the cold weather.

When I mention this to other people, they stop and think a moment, then say, "You're right--I haven't seen them either, I just didn't pay attention or think about what it meant."

I pay attention to things like that. It's an effortless, ingrained habit now, after several years in the distant past of living in very primitive conditions, and after the past 12+ years on the farm. I give the same attention to the various aspects of the natural environment that most folks give to television or radio. It's in the background; mostly you're not even really "paying attention" to it...but sometimes something catches your attention, and you shift your focus there without even thinking about it. But the whole time, you're aware of it, and if something is unusual, or if it stops, then you notice the change right away.

It is a very strange season, actually, right now. It seems more like spring than the conventional Indian Summer. The plants are confused; insects and frogs are confused. The "spring peepers"--Boreal Chorus Frogs--were actually calling their spring call not long ago. There are violets blooming in the sage bed, and the little plant I call Veronica is strewn with gleaming blue flowers. I've seen some Shepherd's Purse blooming, and other small spring wildflowers. The robins sound like spring robins, singing their song for April sunsets but it's November. I saw a nest of winged ants today...usually an August thing, though usually it's the red ants that I see fly.

Confused? Or maybe they know something we don't. Could there be a winter without winter?

1 comment:

Catlady said...

"Or maybe they know something we don't. Could there be a winter without winter? "

Oh, don't tease me like that!! ;) Around here, we are supposed to have normal highs of 1C. We are getting 11 C predicted for today...

The trees stayed nearly all green until after Thanksgiving; there were even a few stragglers at Hallowe'en. Now, though, they've mostly all turned and shed their leaves.

And I noticed the lack of geese until well into October myself.... Even now, they aren't flocking in huge numbers....