Wednesday, July 8, 2009

The Moment Before

My friend says my profile shot makes me look like an "anorexic turtle." I'll have to change that soon, but that involves finding another picture of myself, and those are rarer than polar ice caps these days. But stay tuned! I'll persevere.

Speaking of polar ice caps, and ice in general, it just continues to disappear. Even though I study it, read about it everyday, think about it constantly, I can't let myself dwell on the reality of climate change too much. Weird cognitive disjunction there, but apparently that's how human brains work. We aren't well-equipped to think about and prepare for seemingly long-range, faraway threats.

I mean, it's scary stuff. Tom Yulsman over at CE Journal reports today on arctic sea ice, which continues its precipitous decline. I see these stories, about drought spreading and pine trees dying in vast swaths across the Rocky Mountain range, and worry gnaws somewhere in the back of my brain.

Have you read Cormac McCarthy's The Road? Did you see Earth 2100? I think about these dystopic visions a lot, and wonder what other possible visions are available to us. What world might we imagine that is not some Mad Max version of life on this planet? Is imagining that world akin to sticking our heads in the sand? Or do we need to dream of something different before we can make it happen?

Still, things speed ahead. My girls grow older, and I count each year as a victory. Another year survived without major climate disruption; another year where gas is relatively affordable and life in the suburbs tenable. Another year where we continue on with business as usual, waiting for politicians and infrastructure and the evolution of the human brain to catch up with the natural world, which races forward, changing faster and faster, because of and despite us.

I go for a walk after the afternoon monsoons have drenched our gardens and marvel at the coolness of the July evening, grateful for a reprieve from the heat. The hills are verdant and rolling; the last time they were like this in July was 2001, when we first moved here. The following summer was the summer of the Hayman fire, I think, when ash reigned from the sky, post-911, and the world felt and seemed in the grip of apocalypse anyway. The air is wet and heavy (do people in Denver even know the word "humid"?), the scenery gorgeous, life indomitable.

A friend sends me stories on eco-grief. I guess it is that, partly. Also, I will my girls to be strong, to be brave, to be smart. I will them to treasure sticks and leaves and sowbugs and the outside air. I will them to cook their own food, and taste it, and know which is real food from which is not. I try to tell them the truth without burdening them with things they are not ready for. Part of me feels I'm preparing them, though none of us knows for what.

So, I try to hold on. I try to grab on to this moment, the moment before everything changed. And I know every moment is that moment.

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