Early August

Oi! Another hot, humid day with little rain; seemingly no amount of watering begins to make up for so many weeks of drought. Despite the drought the late summer wildflowers are out along the verges and the trees retain their dark green hues. Even the male goldfinches are holding on to their brilliant plumage, although the house finches are noticeably more muted than they were a few weeks ago. Down at the marsh the osprey are caring for their now rather large offspring while the herons seem to have vacated the scene for their August vacation.

Given that it is early August we can expect to see the first leaves turning towards Autumn and we did last night. The power company sent out an e-mail yesterday asking us to begin thinking about buttoning up the house for the cooler weather ahead. All this is a bit much to contemplate in the current heat.

We’ve had our first local peaches and it has ben a markedly mixed experience. Some are mealy and rather tasteless while others are wonderful. There is nothing quite like a fresh peach! As we are now firmly in blueberry and raspberry season, with local figs surely to come in the near future, this is the time for fruit salads!

I’m sitting with my morning coffee, looking out my office window at the lifting fog and already feeling hot; we have no air-conditioning in this room. Very much like Vermont, there was until relatively recently no real need for AC here as the breeze off the ocean tends to cool everything down. There was a lovely on shore breeze last night and we ventured out for a picnic by our favorite river. (Yes, we had fruit salad.) When we got home we opened doors and windows and relished the coolness before, knowing what was to come, turning on the AC for the night.

Evening Tidal River at Low Tide

I learned recently that the odds of my existing are several trillion (1,000,000,000,000) to one. Our being here on this lovely planet is indeed a miracle! Sadly, all to often we forget we are miracles, as is that butterfly and that mushroom. Indeed, the densely interconnected networks we call ecosystems are miracles. I like to remind my inner scientist that even our capacity to study and alter ecosystems is a miracle.

This miraculous interconnectivity means that climate change is more about displacement of long term patterns than about the heat itself, although the heat is certainly a major issue. So many birds, fish, and insects rely upon long term ecosystem stability for their survival. Although ecosystems are always in flux, change is usually slow, giving the perception of stability. Migrating creatures have adapted to a wide array of ecosystems and are now tightly connected to the patterns of those systems, timing their arrival to match the availability of food and supportive climatic conditions. Climate change makes those essentials unpredictable and life much more dangerous for the creatures who depend on them.

Plants are also very much dependent on predictable climatic conditions and have the additional disadvantage of bein rooted and, thus, being unable to move easily as climate shifts. Those fruits on our table are the product of plants having the required ecosystem predictability to be able to reproduce. Too much early warmth or late season cold mean no peaches.

We humans, especially those of us in the industrialized West, have managed to largely isolate ourselves from the vagaries of nature and in the process have lost empathy for humans and other creatures highly impacted by our relentless alteration of the Earth and her ecosystems. Of course, it is only a matter of time before we find ourselves at the whim of an increasingly chaotic climate system, subject to all the perils that implies.

If we were up in Maine we’d undoubtedly be making lobster metaphors.

11 thoughts on “Early August

  1. Thanks for reminding me of what the changing climate of our world is really about. It is good to have you back, Michael. I think about blogging a lot but don’t seem to be following through. I sat down to write a short post but decided to read yours instead.

      1. Thanks, Michael. My mind is working differently – not better or worse, just different and it is reflected in how I write. I was wondering if I had anything worthwhile to say to others and pulling into myself more. My knowledge of aging tells me that isn’t a good trajectory. Thanks for your helpful comment.

      2. Oh, Pat. none of our brains work the same. Anyway, I often do not write simply because I know I am repetitious and I wonder whether I have anything worthwhile to add to the conversation. I look forward to your posts and feel perplexed when I discover I missed ne because I did not receive a notification. Your photos and words often leave me happy.

    1. Touché! While we have traveled trough interior Maine on our way from and to Vermont from our family home on the coast, I was thinking about Serento and lobsths”s. What a long trip! My favorite memory I think is leaving Sorento one late December because a monster coastal storm was approaching, only to get home, barely, and be housebound under three unforecast feet of snow…. Living here by the ocean in MA is not the same.

      1. Believe it or not, I had to look up Serrento to see where it was. Even though I’m a lifelong Mainer, there are still towns I haven’t heard of. That sounds like some trip and some storm, as we Mainers would say. And it’s true that when most people think of Maine, they think of our beautiful coast.

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