Saturday, October 27, 2012

A future disaster

I'm reading about all these meteorologists freaking out and running out of expletives and generally losing their marbles. But they are actually just looking at computer output. So far all we've got is a minimal late season hurricane that did the usual damage to places that are all too used to it. At this point they blow out to sea. But not this time: it's going to blow up into the biggest, baddest storm of all time and plow into the most densely populated region of the United States. We'll have no electricity for weeks, the streets will all be blocked, and the coastlines all under water.

I hope they're wrong but I believe them. It's strange though: on the one hand, they say this situation is completely unprecedented, it's never happened before; yet they are absolutely certain of their computer models. It's as though this has already happened, now we just need to experience it.

Think how strange this is in all of human history. Even twenty years ago I doubt such a definite forecast would be possible. Indeed, they would probably not have been able to forecast that the storm would hit the east coast at all until shortly before it happened. One hundred years ago, no-one would have had the least warning until the thing happened. On the other hand, it wouldn't have mattered so much. There was no electricity out here until the twenties. People would have hunkered down for a day or two and then gotten on with their lives. (Not so fortunate those along the coast, of course.) That the disaster will be so widespread wouldn't have mattered so much either. (You see how I'm getting my tenses all twisted, and there's no way to untwist them in a world where the future is already history.) The geography wasn't so connected, the economy was mostly local and, obviously, nobody thought of driving 30 miles to work every day or 12 miles to the store.

A world where such an event is commonplace -- assuming it does indeed happen -- will be very different from the one I've been living in. But now two years in a row we've had to endure this, and one wonders whether we can continue to bear the expense of rebuilding and endure the losses and disruption. At least the folly of denial will finally be expunged.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Celestial meh

So what the hell, I got up at 4:00 am last night and looked at Orion. After a couple of minutes, a little streak of light. Big whoop. I went back to bed.

Other than that, we had one hard frost about when the first frost is supposed to happen, in mid-October. But since then it's been back to summer, and our progress toward winter - leaves dropping, herbage dying - has slowed down drastically. If we end up having another non-winter like the last one it actually won't be good -- the wooly adelgids are coming back and the hemlocks are looking sorry once again, for one thing. Changes in the land are happening quickly, and they are obvious to anyone who is willing just to look around. Evidently, that does not include any of our political leaders.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Phase change

Well, we had one shot of cold air and an overnight freeze Saturday morning. Warm air moved right back in but it was enough to kill the tender plants. The basil looked beautiful and green Friday afternoon, but it was a blackened mess Saturday morning. Parsley and mint are still growing, of course, and it wasn't enough to knock the leaves off the trees or even stop the grass from growing. Strange how some plants have the anti-freeze and others can't handle a whiff of frost.

Anyhow . . . I planted garlic today. I dug the whole patch by hand and carefully preserved the volunteers. They tend to show up in clumps of five or more. Once I'd pulled them apart, I had almost enough to plant the whole bed. I didn't have anything like that last year, and I wasn't expecting it - I thought I'd harvested pretty thoroughly. Maybe this is what happens when you run a garlic bed for two years. I did have a couple of rows left over to plant with bulbs I harvested in the summer, but for the most part, what I thought was going to be my seed stock is now in the pantry. Scampi tonight.

It was a hell of a lot of work, by the way. I'd neglected the bed since the harvest so I had to root out a lot of sod and weeds. I added sand and chickenshit last year and found it still wasn't well mixed, so I dug the bed twice. The sand is to make the soil more root-vegetable friendly but the soil is still pretty gummy. I may add more next year. Don't tell my hippie friends but I inherited a bag of Vigoro from my father so I added some of that. I hope to get even better results next year.

I don't look forward to winter, to be honest. But it's necessary. It's what makes New England New England. And the annual rhythm of chores is how I know I live here.