Sunday, August 12, 2012

Guest post from SE Michigan

Regarding Global Warming....
It should be fairly obvious to all now that we are in the midst of a global climate change. It is certainly obvious to those in the deep-red sections of the national temperature maps this summer. Extreme or exceptional drought and attendant wildfires are an obvious symptom, but there are others.

Here in Michigan, I had thought we might turn into the garden spot as warm temps moved north. I can already plant for Zone 6 instead of 5. But the transition is erratic. This spring, we had a very early warm-up, which tricked all sorts of things into flowering many weeks early, in March. Then, when perfectly seasonable freezing temperatures followed, all the flower buds were killed. The photo is of my backyard pear and apple trees, which did not set a single fruit this year. The two English walnut trees I planted more than 30 years ago are bearing not a single nut. The neighborhood squirrels, who always impress visitors with their size and robust appearance, are going to starve. My Bing cherry tree’s branches are dying off; it is covered with gray lichen-looking patches and is exuding ruby-red gel. Anyone know what that is or what can be done for it?

Well, this would be sad for me personally, but it’s not all about me. A state Ag person estimates Michigan  lost 95% of our peaches, 90% of apples, and 85% of cherries — and agriculture is extremely important to our economy. Only Washington and New York produce more apples, for example, and we used to own tart cherries (a nearly complete loss this year). Since most of our orchards are family businesses, those families lose their income for the year. U-Pick farms, a Michigan institution, have little to offer their patrons.

Parts of the state, especially the south, have suffered from drought, so corn and soybeans are also doing very poorly. A newer Michigan institution, the Corn Maze, is also endangered. It’s not much of a maze if it’s only knee high. So much for my “garden spot” dreams.

Thursday, August 09, 2012

The Log, She Grew

“It is with us as with timber. Every knot and shake in a board reveals some disease or injury that overtook the log when it was growing. A gentleman named Jean Pigeon, who once built a frame house for me, put this in a nutshell. He said: `Everything which a tree she has experienced in the forest she takes with her into the house.' That is the law for us all, each in his or her own land.”

I love that Kipling included Pigeon’s gendered French nouns: “with a tree she has experienced… she takes with her into the house.” I also love the idea that I am like a board that reveals disease and injury incurred while growing. 

Tom Robbins once said that when people tell you to shut up they mean stop talking; and when people tell you to grow up the mean stop growing. The name of my blog is based on a premise that, like a tree, my lifelong growth will stop only upon my death.

I may no longer have growth spurts like a young sapling, and I may lean over a bit like the old eucalyptus at the top of the driveway, but I’m still hanging out here in the forest trying to overcome drought, pestilence and the other miscellaneous assorted slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. 

So, technically, even though the rate of my blogging has slowed, this blog, she still grows.

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Carrying On

“Are you authorised to speak

For these trees without leaves?
Are you able to explain
What the wind intends to do
With a man’s shirt and a woman’s nightgown
Left on the laundry line?
What do you know about dark clouds?
Ponds full of fallen leaves?
Old model cars rusting in a driveway?
Who gave you permission
To look at the beer can in a ditch?
The white cross by the side of the road?
The swing set in the widow’s yard?
Ask yourself, if words are enough,
Or if you’d be better off
Flapping your wings from tree to tree
And carrying on like a crow?”
Charles Simac, Carrying On like a Crow  
Here are my answers to some of the poem’s questions:
Am I responsible for the dead and dying trees without leaves? Apparently not. We just lost a large, drought-stressed pine tree between the house and the street. We chose euthanasia of a still living tree when the 18” trunk broke and the top 15 feet kneeled slowly and gracefully across our driveway. Our professional tree guy agreed that it was the equivalent of a suicide note from a tree.
As for what the wind does with laundry left on the line, it’s been about 40 years since I’ve hung laundry, so no, I can’t explain.
What I know about dark clouds is that rain is promised but that fickle clouds often move over the mountains to the east before rain falls.
WRT/ ponds full of leaves and old model cars rusting in a driveway I know for a fact that such clutter is like an unwanted side effect of my happy marriage. That I hate clutter goes without saying - it makes me testy. Accordingly, I don’t need no stinking permission to look at roadside litter.
As for finding words to explain images like roadside crosses and swing sets moving in the wind over the widow’s back fence; am I better off flapping my wings in the trees and carrying on like a crow?  To which I respond: Caw!