ONCE UPON A TIME, THERE WAS SNOW

Drowning in Snow

Drowning in Snow – Early 2016

On a hot day in a hot week in the early part of March, I am tempted to call this blog post, “Remember Snow?”  As people walk into our 1900 barn, –where we save land, the ultimate carbon sink–, they exult over “this lovely day.”

All day I tried to correct them:  “It’s tragic!”

“Why?!,” they’d demand.

“Climate change,” I’d retort, mourning in my voice.

“Oh, well,” says the first entrant, with a dismissive wave of the hand.  If I give up on climate change – o, please may I never give up upon calling attention to this debacle – today will have been my tipping point.

On the phone, I attempted to correct a hunter, also pleased that it is nearing seventy degrees.  When I used the dread ‘C Words’, he chuckled.  “Oh, that won’t be upon us for some time yet…”  His voice reveals that he too may have been using dismissive gestures.

Early Blizzard Chair and Table

Patio Time

Only a handful of people dare admit to me, as I literally sit in a barn with its doors thrown open to the March heat, “I happen to be a lover of winter.  This year is a fizzle.”

Yes, YES!  Realize this.  Snow is part of a significant and crucially necessary cycle.  Without it, nature’s processes are seriously skewed.

Snow, with its accompanying low temperatures, blesses fox habitat, killing microbes in their dens that otherwise doom these animals to the dire death of mange.  Ice covering a bay, such as Barnegat, permits new healthy foxes to scamper across to Island Beach, strengthening the vulpine tribe.

Snow on the mountains creates snow pack, ‘designed’ to hold water not meant to be released until the droughty months ahead.  This is particularly essential in states such as Oregon.  But New Jersey, the Garden State, requires her snow, too.  My mother used to call snow “nature’s fertilizer,” particularly rejoicing in late blizzards.  Something about nitrogen and she could see visible improvements, thereafter, in her garden.

The mailman countered, “You want snow?  Move to Minnesota.”  I lived in Minnesota in the first years of marriage to a Mayo-training urologist.  Yes, snow, whiteout snow, ‘blowing and drifting snow’, the norm and fifteen inches on my first fifteenth of April.

I want snow, now, when it belongs here, doing its sweet silent work.

Face it, we should ALL want snow.

Frantic Birds, Blizzard 1 2016

Frantic Birds Feed in Blizzard

I remember soft swathes of flakes circling down each Aspen night, frosting the long blonde hair of my teen-aged daughters.  The girls in their long skirts and clunky after-ski boots, our family family made its silent nightly way on foot to yet another intriguing dinner.  In the morning, new snow would cushioned long sweet sweeps through Big Burn and into a forest, where we sort-of slalomed in and out of ancient trees.  Their boughs were thick with snow pillows.

At the very top, each dawn, flaky frost would surround tree branches, and even float through the air, all rainbowed and fascinating.  There is no silence, not even a cathedral’s, to equal that on a chairlift through snowed forests.

At home in Princeton, snow meant ‘a snow day’, the ‘telephone tree’ informing us that PDS was closed.  Fires in the fireplaces in the morning, and chicken soup steaming up the windows, so we could barely see the universal whiteness outside.  Cardinals dancing in and out of flakes and shadows, surrounding our bountiful feeders.  A raptor zooming over to snatch the neck among steaming chicken bones I negotiated my way through confusing drifts to place at the edge of our woods.

Sitting on the hearth, playing our guitars and singing folk songs.  If it were the right kind of snow, (this was the 1970’s), snowmen – only my girls insisted on snow-women, of course.  We didn’t always have a carrot for a nose, and never coal.  Snow meant the cats wouldn’t go out the front door into it, insisting on the back – as though there wouldn’t be any snow out there.

Depth of Field late blizzard

Remarkable Snow Depth – Courtesy of Catastrophic Climate Change

Well, if we had those cats now, there wouldn’t be any snow out any doors.

Think about it, at seventy degrees in March.  If it’s this many degrees hotter than March norms, how will August be?

Flowers are opening months earlier than they should – what will the pollinators do?

Goldfinches at my Lawrenceville feeders are turning gold under their wings.  Does that mean they’re thinking breeding thoughts?  And where will the insects be to feed their premature young?

You’ve heard it before.  We’ve ignored it before.

Roof Overhang

Overhand, Morning After the Blizzard

The snow quantities in these pictures are brought to us, via our insistence upon fossil fuels, by Catastrophic Climate Change.

There is no ‘if’ about climate change.  My Climate Change Reader, edited by legendary Bill McKibben, proffers 100 years of writing (pro and con) on this subject.  McKibben dared author his his tome heralding our planet’s gravest crisis (The End of Nature) in 1989.  Is anybody listening?

When Pogo asserted, “We have seen the enemy and he is us,” he was not considering climate.

We have seen the future, and it is now.

You don’t want to be in sleeveless tops and running shorts in March.

At the very least, write your senators, representatives and editors and urge them to grapple with this most significant issue of our time, immediately and effectively now.

HOW IT SHOULD BE IN WINTER:

Falling Fast and Furiously

Falling Fast and Furiously

It’s not just snow that’s endangered.  It’s the planet itself, and we ourselves are part of what Elizabeth Kolbert titles “The Sixth Extinction.”

“SARAH PALIN SAYS IT’S ALL MY FAULT” Poem

Some years ago, at the time of the BP Travesty in our sacred Gulf Stream, this poem of mine was published in Poets for Living Waters –Looks like it’s time to resurrect it.  In case you may have forgotten, Ms. Palin blames catastrophic climate change on environmentalists::

DEAR SARAH PALIN, by Carolyn Foote Edelmann

DEAR SARAH PALIN,

I understand it’s all my fault
–this Gulf oil disaster, I mean–
not only all that fire
bodies catapulted into air
then drowned
soon likely shark bait
but also this volcano of oil
spewing interminably
into our blue mantle

Sarah, you say
I did this
all of this and more
now some six weeks ago
with no end in sight
and no businessman
politician not even a general
let alone you, Sarah Palin,
knows how to stop
this tornado of oil

it’s also my fault, the oiled birds
Northern gannets
pristine as Josephine
in her Empire gown
frail white silk
adorned with gold
though not quite bees
dark eyes snapping
as she becomes increasingly encased
in ‘my’ oil
more abruptly than all those mastodons
in La Brea’s tar pits

now slender cormorants
who, everyone is sure, are drowning
as they swim along
neck barely afloat
no one realizing
the genius of cormorants
who can fly/swim 30 miles an hour
underwater
when they are not oiled

about the mpg of my car
my old car
for the ownership of which
I am quite guilty
for the replacement of which
I have no means

cormorants
must wave both wings
after every dive
to dry them
so that they may
dive and dive again
–no wave strong enough
to shake off ceaseless poison weight
of oil

it’s my fault, the reddish egrets
you know his own epitaph
written by photographer Ted Cross
for his own recent death
describing his multi-faceted self
on the Other Side
“still searching for the perfect photograph
of the reddish egret”

Ted did not have in mind
this soiled oiled specimen
trying, unsuccessfully
to lift newly leaden
legs wings and feet
out of Gulf mud muck and oil

it’s all my fault
and not because I use the wrong lightbulbs
in a couple of fixtures
nor because I do turn on the heat.
inside, in winter, sometimes
although I’ve been doing without air
conditioning so far this troubled year

it’s my fault
because I am an “extreme environmentalist”
because I think there should never be any more
drilling for oil in our country
because I deplore petrotyrrany
the privatization of profits
socialization of poverty
because I think we should start with the auto companies

well, what do you expect, Sarah?
I grew up in Detroit

I’ve never seen a wolf in the wild
as you do and deplore
–these beings you condemn to bloody deaths
I would embrace

nor have I encountered
a single polar bear
let alone a starving female trying to find food
for her new brood
attempting to swim with them
toward vanishing ice floes

but that’s o.k. with you
Sarah
it makes the hunting
easier

it’s my fault, Sarah
for I am quite literally
a tree hugger

I believe that greed should end
America return to her original nobility
where people pledged lives
fortunes
sacred honor
remember sacred honor?
— ah, well, probably not, Sarah

I believe we are our Planet’s
Keepers

Sarah – who are you?

~~~~~~~~~~

STATEMENT
what everyone must remember, wherever anyone lives (not only those of us in New Jersey’s key migratory corridor, the only state with three coastlines) is that these are our birds, our waters.  Because of the Gulf Stream, this catastrophe is global.  We may have passed the tipping point.  We are all the oiled pelican.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Carolyn Foote Edelmann (see many posts in NJWILDBEAUTY and NJWILD for the Packet Publications, before this –on oil and birds and I then provided stories for the actual newspaper  not virtual, on this subject – collecting local responses).