If You don’t Like the Weather, Wait a Minute

photoHave you ever seen a pigeon flying backward? I did today. This phenomenal occurrence was not because I spotted a mutant genius helicopter pigeon; that really might be a matter for tales of magic and fantasy, given the modern pigeon’s brain.

It was that windy. The pigeon was making a valiant effort to take off from the edge of a roof and, blown instead straight backward, finally saw the same edge directly under him and came right back in for a landing. What’re you gonna do?

The wind is giving us a good whack here in north Texas today. Two days ago, it was over 80°F/27°C, brilliantly sunny, and calm as a sleeping cat. Tonight, we’re told, we can expect freezing temperatures and should cover all of our tender plants in the garden. A couple of days before our balmy pseudo-summer day, we had a storm pass through. Parts of our town had a little thunder and lightning and a fair amount of rain with a little bit of hail mixed in it, but nothing extravagant by local standards. Our house was in that lucky sector, and so was our car while we drove home in The Weather. Just across town, others were not so fortunate: some had hail the size of golf balls or larger, and tornado-like gusts, and among the downed trees and limbs there were homes where the roofs were destroyed or caved in, cars were damaged or totaled by metal-dimpling all over and glass smashed through, and interiors soaked with the rain and debris thrown in through the broken windows.

We’re torn, in more ways than strictly the physical, around here.

We crave every drop of H2O that we can squeeze out of the sky; even after a relatively mild number of months, our lake levels continue to be well below their norms, some still fully in drought status. It’s not considered a plus if you can drive directly to where your boat is moored, in case anyone wondered. All the same, if the moisture is dumped all at once as though shot through giant firehoses, it doesn’t always stay where it’s needed but instead causes flash floods, undermines foundations, uproots vegetation and breaks down buildings and roads left and right.

Doesn’t matter what you call it—climate change, global warming, a thirty-year cycle, or evil pixies run amok—the weather all around this wonderful, messy planet is more extreme than it had been for much of recent history. The extremes are more extreme, the heat and cold, the wind and dead stillness, the flooding and droughts. Only the inconsistency of the weather seems to be more, well, consistent.

All somewhat amusing, if the worst one experiences is the occasional sighting of a pigeon flying backward. But of course, that’s the least of it. Ask our neighbors who sustained major damage to house, car and property all at once last week. Ask the people—the peoples—displaced by tornado and typhoon, those who have lost home and family to the floods and famines that massacre everyone in their paths throughout whole regions.

I don’t much care about whether we’re partly to blame for the seeming extra intensity of nature’s capriciousness and fury at this point. It’s not all that different, in my mind, from all of the displacements, distortions and destruction in history that we can absolutely attribute to human invasion, conquest, greed, prejudice, ignorance and evil. As horrible as that stuff all, genuinely, is, it is: it exists, already. What matters is what we do now in order not to perpetuate the ills, and better yet, to mitigate them as best we can. We can’t undo history, and we can’t control nature. But we can and should change our attitudes, practices and beliefs (and the governing processes needed to support those societal improvements appropriately) in whatever ways will support a far better world, one where wars, rape, murder, slavery, thievery, violence and all sorts of other horrible human actions are not only universally condemned but undesirable to enact.

And, since we expect that we, and those generations who succeed us, will continue to need to live on this specific planet and its resources, hadn’t we better think up some less selfish and more practical ways of easing the effects of nature just as much as our effects on it? We won’t likely figure out how to stop the wind from blowing with great intensity, floods from filling valleys, hail from pelting like rocks out of the sky, or lightning from searing and exploding whatever it can lay its fiery fingertip on, but if we put our minds to it, maybe we can think up some reasonable ways to protect more people, and care for those who are affected, better.

I didn’t really start out with the intent of rambling on about this stuff, but it’s on my mind. Probably not so different from the pigeon’s reaction when he discovered his original flight plan wasn’t viable. Can I fly backward? I don’t know. But I’ll bet it’s worth trying, if I find myself needing to make an emergency landing. No matter how the wind is blowing.photo

22 thoughts on “If You don’t Like the Weather, Wait a Minute

    • Wacky, innit. Now we’re back to fairly normal (low 80s) for this time of year, but who knows what tomorrow will bring! Hope you get just the right amount of rain so you won’t have too much wildfire nastiness, never mind lose any of that fabulous flora around there. I was just having visions of spectacular Ceanothus masses the other day…. 🙂

      • Yesss…I worry about the fires. 😦 My old stomping grounds in Oakland was burned up in that fire of the early 90’s. Such a shame. I’d hate to see people lose their homes again. (Off to google Ceanothus lol)

        • Didn’t you mention having been at Point Reyes sometime not so long ago? I know there’s a variety of Ceanothus named for it. 🙂 It’s a shrub with a lot of variety in the family, often known as Farmer’s Lilac or California Lilac, but the two things I’m most avid for are that it does have so many reliable, hardy shrub forms that you could practically plant an entire low-maintenance landscape with it and not be bored, but most of all that it gets covered with sweet-smelling, bee-beloved masses of tiny flowers, and in the varieties I prefer, they are anything from lavender to deep, deep blue. Fabulous.

        • oh I think I know what you mean now. I never know the names of these plants/flowers, so thank you! We are actually going to redo our landscaping in our new home so maybe it’s something to consider!

        • Coincidentally, I think I may have even read somewhere that Ceanothus is relatively fire-resistant as plants go. But the fact that you can find so many wildly divergent versions is a huge plus in my book. They can vary from very low groundcovers to 15′ trees, from deciduous, somewhat delicate leaves to fairly tough evergreen ones, can have flowers anywhere from white to pink to purple to blue and everything in between, foliage ranging from darkest green to pale variegated green-and-cream, plants woody stemmed to more willowy branched, and almost all of them quite sturdy growers once established; well, that’s all mighty appealing to a person like me who loves gardens but not necessarily working very hard in them! 😉

        • Can I borrow you to help me pot a geranium? LOL Seriously, thank you for the info! I ADORE gardens but I have a brown thumb. We are hiring a landscaper and I will put this in my notes to ask him about it! 🙂 Of course this will be a few months from now lol.

        • I’m sorry about the neighborhood loss in Oakland. I know that wildfires are a permanent aspect of nature that predates us humanoids by a longshot, but now that we’re here it’s devastating to see how horribly the fires can affect homes, towns and lives. Hope this’ll be a kind season for all!

    • Our dad was known to say that fairly often, too, until he made the mistake of telling our littlest sister one day to “flip off the light” and she turned around and flipped it off (gave it the eff-you finger). The other three of us were, of course, immensely delighted by her cleverness and the excellent shock value of the youngest of the Good Little Girls catching Dad-the-pastor so off guard! Sometimes life just hands you the perfect opportunity. 😉 But yeah, we still take pretty good care to keep the lights out in unused rooms. 😀

  1. Good point, worth thinking upon. Needs action but I get so confused when reading one scientist then another with the opposite point of view on our weather that I feel like I fly backwards or…round in circles….

    • Yes, it’s mighty confusing. As I say, I’m opting to skip over the Whys and Wherefores and just try to figure out better How To or How Not To moving forward, instead. And that’s challenging enough! We just had a city contractor come and do an ‘energy audit’ of our house today, something we did when we bought the place four years ago, to see how we’ve progressed on the various elements of making the place more energy efficient and our use of it more sensible, and while he says we’re doing ‘all the right things’ he did have some other recommendations for our continuing improvement. Always more things to be done, and better…whether in circles or zigzags or a straight line! 🙂

  2. Yes, I am learning how crazy Texas weather can be. One day warm,the next day cold….you just have to be prepared at all times from what I am told. I wish we lived closer to one another. Thank you for your beautiful response on my post this week.

    • Yes, it’d be great fun to cross paths in person! Who knows, one day you might have reason to hang out in or near Denton for some reason or other, and if so, we’ll make the most of it. Meanwhile, you do indeed benefit from assuming the worst about what the weather will bring on any given occasion and then be happily relieved if it doesn’t happen that way. 😉 Hope you haven’t been hard hit by any of the recent storms!

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