We are two weeks away from the Summer Solstice and the days continue to lengthen. Last evening, as we ate, we were treated to lovely light in the forest canopy, along with bird song. What a fine way to dine with friends!
The tomatoes are growing as we wonder what happened to the reticent to appear pole beans. Over the last few days the weather has turned decidedly wet and chilly, the cold driving everyone inside. Yesterday began with a frigid wind, making our weekly trip to the farmer’s market almost intolerable, yet by afternoon we were comfortably warm as we conducted long overdue garden work in bright sunshine. Actually, I say “we”advisedly, as Jennie does the vast majority of the work. Yesterday Robin dropped by and helped, and I mended the fences and finally put in the potatoes.
I imagine climate change seems rather abstract, at the moment, to most people living here in northern New England. This is not so true of friends in Australia, Brazil, and India, areas where extended heat spells have been life threatening problems. It is good to remember that we humans understand our environment through contact with the local, and tend to generalize our lived, day-to-day experiences, imagining others are sharing our rain. Yet this impulse, which strengthens our connection to the local, often fails us when we encounter new ecosystems, or try to heal global climate change.
The immediacy and dominance of the local was driven home to me over dinner last night. Our guests have not traveled extensively, although they dearly wish to. As we traded stories, it became apparent that our lives have distinctly differing contexts. While Jennie and I tend to nest our everyday experience in the broad context of travel to Asia, Europe, and South America, our guests emphasized their embeddedness in the local and regional. They hear the news about heat and drought, yet do not have a lived experience of the regions currently under threat. In some ways drought and extreme temperatures cannot but remain a concerning abstraction for those who have not walked the imperiled places. Our view is shaped, in large part, by our firsthand knowledge of some of the landscapes of discomfort. (We have also suffered through drought and heat in the Southwest and West.)
Still, our everyday lives are here, in the garden, and the woods alongside the lake, and it is here that climate change most immediately affects us. Come fall, we will be returning to India and will, I imagine, hear stories of this terribly hot summer, narratives situated in the immediacy of the local. Perhaps it is through sharing stories that we humans will begin to recognize and grasp the enormity of the changes to our world.
What is the view from where you live?