There is a sense of deja-vu as we look through the weather reports these last two days: the heady rush of anticipation, nervous compulsive checking of road conditions, the candle aisle at the store completely tapped out. Again. Crowds gather at office windows as the storm starts: a flurry at first, then a mess of the white stuff, coming down hard and fast. Windshield scrapers are dug out of the trunk, heaters turned to full blast. As the song says, it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas round these parts. All very picturesque if it weren’t for the fact that this is May.
By KELLY LUCK
Midwest Voices Columnist
Anyone who’s been in this Midwest neck of the woods has by now observed that spring is never one to show up early. Between the lateness of the kickoff, and winter constantly popping back for “just one quick little thing,” spring is generally good for more false starts than a kindergarten track meet. But this year? This is just getting ridiculous. We seem to have fallen into a permanent holding pattern, wherein we’ll get a few days of nice weather to acclimate us to the idea that it’s all over, then bam. Like a monster in a bad horror movie, winter leaps back out at us and has another go.
By now we’ve all heard the official scientific explanation: increasing temperatures around the arctic circle have caused a warm air push-out that has moved the jet stream currents down, bringing the wintery weather up north down to us, who neither need nor asked for it, and shoving our weather further down south, where it’s not actually required. All very satisfying from a scientific point of view, but I fear it does not fit all the facts. Because let’s face it: we know what this is all about.
This isn’t weather. This is revenge.
The conspiracy theory of meteorology is not a popular one, I must admit, but I think if you mull it over you’ll agree it has merit. For ages people have theorized that the earth on which we live is a giant meta-organism, a living consciousness that fills every nook and cranny of our word. This idea, called Gaia Theory in its most modern incarnation, speaks eloquently of the interconnectedness of all things and the idea of habitat as collective mind. Unfortunately, it does rather neglect to mention that, collective consciousness or not, it’s kind of a jerk.
Seriously, think about it: ever see a pet owner dangling a favorite toy in front of their critter of choice, only to yank it back at the last second? That’s nature and us, right now. Time and time again she dangles spring at us, and time and time again we fall for it and break out the Crocs and the sunscreen. And then, just when we’ve got the sweaters all put away — whap. A faceful of snow. Got us again.
And all right, I can see where she’d be upset: we have become a bit enthusiastic in our industrialization the last century or so. We’re pulling more things out of the earth now than we ever have, and have lately been replacing it with stuff that really shouldn’t be down there. And OK, maybe some industrialized cities are so constantly covered in smog that the residents are evolving rudimentary sonar. And yes, the cycle of creating new gizmos and then tossing them when they become obsolete has gotten so abbreviated that some factories have just given up and started throwing away their products themselves as they roll off the production line.
But hey, it’s not like we haven’t done our part to make it better. I don’t know about you, but I’ve sat through any number of documentaries about climate change. We separate our garbage, when we remember to. We all went out and got reusable shopping bags and fluorescent bulbs. Heck, some of us even drive hybrids, for Pete’s sake. What the heck do they want from us?
The point is, we need to make nice with Mother Nature, and quick. Not being a climate expert, I have consulted with all the leading online relationship sites, and I have a plan. Simply put, we gotta butter her up. I’m thinking card, I’m thinking candy, maybe tickets to a show she likes (I was thinking possibly flowers, but then it occurred to me that ripping some plants out of the ground and sending them to her might convey entirely the wrong impression). I figure the candy part should be easy, because what anthropomorphic personification of the forces of nature doesn’t love chocolate? The card may be a bit tricky, though. The earth is about 40,000 kilometers around, so a standard card from the grocery store won’t do; we’ll have to go for one of those big novelty cards they sell at the mall. I’m perfectly willing to write a nice note to go with it: something contrite, but warm, maybe with some poetry or Beach Boys lyrics mixed in.
Maybe we can promise to make a few concessions: buy greener big-screen TVs, get more environmentally-aware bumper stickers for our cars, that sort of thing.
Anyway, I’m sure we can get together on this and make it happen. It might not seem like these kinds of things will make a big difference in the long run, but of course it’s the thought that counts, right? And when you think about the earth and what we’ve done so far, it’s really the least we can do.
And that’s what really matters.
Kelly Luck, of Kansas City, works in IT. She is a Midwest Voices contributing writer.