Monday, March 3, 2014

Local Warming

What a strange winter! While the east and mid west of the US have shivered in the icy blasts, the southwest US and northern Mexico have basked in balmy temperatures. Although I have not been able to find historical temperature records for Banamichi, in Tucson, it has been the second warmest winter on record...the warmest being back in 1957... that is 57 years ago. I was just 14 years old back then, and now I am nearly 71! That's almost a whole lifetime.

Banámichi has not had a freeze all least not in the microclimate of our back yard. Daytime temperatures have hovered in the 70's and 80's, approaching 90 some days. While this has made for great quality time outdoors, this is not normal, and nature has been pretty confused!

The natural world  has been about a month ahead of schedule....the brittle bush and globe mallow were blooming by the side of the highway in mid-February, and the citrus trees were beginning to bloom in our garden before we had even picked much of this year's fruit.
Grapefruit tree with last year's fruit and this year's blossoms

The bougainvilleas never froze back this year, going from being slightly subdued in the darkest days to erupting into their full springtime splendor. The doves have already been huffing and puffing around on the ground in their mating dance. In the vegetable garden the lettuce, broccoli and herbs have bolted.

Bougainvillea in full bloom in February
This is just wrong ... all wrong! In mid February last year we had 2 days of 24 degree weather which dealt a death blow to our papaya and lemon trees. Theoretically, that could still happen this year. All those blooming things could be doomed! George Brookbank (the guru of Sonoran desert gardening) said in his book Desert Gardening  that there are various natural signs that the danger of frost is past, for example, when the mesquite trees begin to bloom. He also mentions watching insect life and birds for signs. Well, the mesquites are still without flowers, although they never lost all their leaves this year.  But the birds are singing up a storm and the leaf cutter ants are marching one by one, so we have mixed messages. According to Accuweather there is no frost in the forecast, and realistically in Banámichi the danger is past. It is unlikely we will have much of a peach crop this year, since the trees need at least a shot of cold weather to produce well.

This all brings me back to my previous contemplations on climate change. Yes, there are normal variations in the earth's climate that occur naturally, however, most scientists now accept that climate change is real. Even the climate doubters in the general population are being convinced as they find themselves affected by  enormous climatological instabilities such as huge storms or this year's east coast winter.

Spring and summer flowers in February
Apparently the craziness that has been this winter has been largely due to a few degrees of warming in the arctic. This  has pushed the jet stream further south, where it has dipped into the midwest and swooshed up across the mid- Atlantic states producing such cold that in places the ground has literally exploded. Meanwhile, a high pressure area has stalled over the southwest and northern Mexico creating late spring weather in February.

My sense is that unless some widespread action is taken, we can expect more and more instabilities like this winter, more disasters and more wonky weather. And given our dysfunctional US government any action is very unlikely. How discouraging! I could really let this get me down!

But being a practical person, I always come back to what I as an individual can do. It is such a complex issue that anything I can contribute seems like a mere speck in the immensity of the universe. Still, in the ecology of our world, everything is interrelated and even my small efforts do affect the whole. And,  my tiny contributions allow me to feel better, more in control. What I can  offer is to live as consciously and simply as possible so as to use as few resources as I reasonably can. I say reasonably, because I suppose I could give up going to Banámichi to save gasoline and energy, but for me that is just not on the table. Spending time there is my  way of returning to sanity, to a simpler way of being. Bringing sanity, peace of mind and simplicity into the world is as valuable as conserving resources.

So I reuse and recycle plastic bags and just about everything else that it is possible to recycle. I re-purpose old items. I combine trips so as to not waste fuel or energy. We run our house temperature colder in the winter and warmer in the summer than I would prefer, and these days, I think carefully before contributing to the frenzy of consumption that is the United States norm. I also grow some of my own food and avoid supporting the mega food industry by preparing meals at home.
Meanwhile, the Christmas poinsettia is still in full bloom!

I study simplicity during my time in Banámichi. All I have to do is look around me. There is nothing much to buy, not many ways to spend money. There is nowhere much to go and not a lot to do except to potter around in the garden and cook good food. My whole being relaxes when I am there.

The local people set an example of reusing things in the most resourceful ways - a broken hot water heater will have a fire built under it to warm the water. A rock will prop up furniture with a broken leg. A cement block holds a loose roof in place. An old tire becomes a planter. People find joy in family and each other. Having  stuff is not necessary for happiness. Being there brings me to the joy and contentment that arises from within myself. You should come on down and see for yourself!

Oh, I just remembered... there is one other thing I can do for our planet: raise questions and encourage you all to consider what you can offer to help our planet to avoid the climate catastrophe that is coming. Even if it seems hopeless and inconsequential, even if it seems too little, too late, what will you do?

1 comment:

  1. A bit tough with the spike in weather you go there. But you know, at least you've got these quirky, slick ideas from the locals for the broken heaters and stuff like that. It should work as great contingencies to catalog, though you can get yourselves some tried and true service to deal with that matter quickly and promptly. And I hope your air conditioners are working fine as well. Would be a shame if they weren't, and at what timing!

    Levi @ Capital Plumbing