Wednesday, January 30, 2013

What a difference a day makes!


Yesterday’s high of 61° melted what little ice remained on the river. That on top of the rainfall made the Menomonee River bulge. The ground thawed as well. As evening fell, a thick ground fog rose over muddy soccer fields here at Hoyt Park as well as over the river. I became confused when I first stepped outside. My body, like muscle memory, reacted with relief and joy at the spring-like warmth. Even so, it felt wrong mentally, for I knew it couldn't be spring. Groundhog Day is still three days away!

Today, of course, we had snow. Twenty-four hours later it is 26° and still falling towards a projected low of 11°. The river is even higher; the soccer fields a featureless sheet of white.

High water, erratic temperatures and extreme weather events have become the new normal in this time of climate change. Just ask those who are still rebuilding after Hurricane Sandy. And those of us who believed in global warming all along feel no satisfaction in saying, “I told you so” to all those who didn’t. (At least I don’t.)

We thought we had dominion over nature. We fought--and, sadly, continue to fight--the wilderness into submission, making casualties of innumerable species, but we cannot conquer the wild. It returns with a vengeance.

What a difference a day makes. The trees that were mown down in one day in order to pave the way for progress at Innovation Park (see previous post) will not grow back in a day, or a year, or in our lifetimes. The climate will not go back to normal in our lifetimes either. We can bulldoze the landscape but when we strip nature we leave ourselves naked.

Try as we do, we cannot fence out the wild. The more we suppress it the greater its fury.

We must learn to live again with nature, to feel one with nature. Plant new trees, yes. But we must be very cautious about the ones that remain. They are more than symbolic of our willingness to compromise our earthly nest; they embody our spirit.

So—while there still is snowgo for a run in it with your mouth wide open.