Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Weather and Wisdom

“One has only learnt to get the better of words
For the thing one no longer has to say, or the way in which
One is no longer disposed to say it.”
- T.S. Eliot, Four Quartets

There was I time, I was considered wise for my age. Now, I’m older but no wiser. This could mean, I suppose, that now I’m merely wise. The unfortunate logic of these parallel trends argues that as I keep getting older without increasing my store of wisdom, I’ll soon be stupid for my age. Then, simply stupid.

On Memorial day, J&K came down for the weekend because Lake Arrowhead had 4 inches of snow. Here, we had a big morning downpour. I know I harp on the climate change thing too much, but rain on Memorial Day? Tornadoes last Sunday night in Riverside County, mudslides in Orange County, hail in San Diego County? A forest fire in Santa Cruz, 5,000 acres and counting. It stopped raining here on the Ides of March. Three days before the Memorial Day weekend, temperature outside my back door was 101F. Sunday morning it dipped below 60F in the morning rain. While the downpour tapered off by noon, it settled down for a mildly windy drizzle all afternoon.

While I presume to know exactly nothing about actual climate change, where we’re going, how desperate we are etc. I do observe anecdotal anomalies which I ascribe to Nature’s revenge for Man's hubris. I also observe and interesting effect of these changes: that the natives (and drought tolerant plants from similar Mediterranean climates) seem to go with the flow.

At the Garden, the purple Jacaranda was at its peak in mid-May, together with similar trees all over town. Thriving beneath, a patch of Hooker’s primrose that we permitted to invade the neighboring wildflower area. While I unfailingly prefer purples, I am reminded by sights like these that yellow is a complementary color not to be forgotten in my vision of the backyard I hope to have some day. So, while my dwarf Japanese maples are already burned around their edges, and one of my baby hop vines has already succumbed to weather and the appetites of night visitors, the natives simply wait for the next change in the weather and carry on quietly.

I sometimes feel like a transplanted piece of flora inhabiting a hostile climate, clinging desperately to life in the face of climatic insults, attacks of rabbits, raccoons, possums, and the ubiquitous lizards, zipping in panic across my path as I lumber around the yard lamenting what Nature has wrought. Like Eliot, I find it easier to “use my words” to say what I no longer need to say. Like much that grows in my garden, I seem to use my wisdom to adapt to the climate that no longer prevails.

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