The Smoke is Back!
apologies and abstractions
Thank you for your patience.
As it goes during the spring and summer on our farm, I often run out of steam by the end of the day. My weekly posts, turn to monthly, and then evaporate all together. It’s happened before.
Mmm…that word—evaporate—makes me think of water, which by the way we desperately need. Liquid turning to vapor, so refreshing. Moist air feels like a mirage these days!
What started as a wet, wet, spring has become the hottest year on record and the driest fall on record in the Pacific Northwest. There has been no rain in Washington over the last 100 days or more. Wildfire smoke has deteriorated the air quality on the farm and in surrounding areas and it was 80 F last weekend.
Folks, it’s mid-October!
Evaporation also means “the process of something abstract ceasing to exist.” When the weather is nice, I tend to forget that climate change is still happening, in our lifetime. It becomes an abstract concept (despite decades of data and visual evidence documenting changing weather patterns and disastrous and extreme weather events exist) that is *sometimes* easy to set aside.
Example: Why are we not talking more about Pakistan?
But the smoke. It wakes everyone up. It cancels soccer practice. It makes us cough and think we have COVID-19. It’s so irritating!
The picture above is of our garden this year. It almost looks pleasant—the gentle pinks and oranges—but it’s a story of abandonment. We barely grew anything this year because of the wet, cold weather (this was a banner spring for slugs!!) and now we have given up on cleaning out the weedy beds until we get some rain to keep the dust down.
(I don’t even want to talk about the dry fields and pastures on the farm.)
For many, including our family, this summer and fall has been a return to normalcy. We did farmers markets and other deliveries without masks, the kids are in school and activities, we had gatherings on the farm, and I planned an entirely in-person book tour for my memoir. However, I am not sure we deserve normal.
My memoir is largely about my search for better ways to live in this world, small farms being one of them and the most fascinating to me. After twenty years, I find myself looking back at my professional and personal choices and wondering if I have made any difference at all. Yes, I will be able to cultivate and can my way through an apocalypse, but I also want to have fun, too. I want to feel like solutions were found and that we will be ok. Instead, this smoke makes it seem like we are at a very real tipping point.
Fun, what even is that? I want to share experiences with my kids, like parks and hikes, without an enormous sense of guilt and shame, and fear. Fear that we are all using and spending too much, living beyond our means. By our means, I mean our planet’s means and finite resources.
As I share my book with the world, I hope to continue to have these conversations with others. What is too much travel and exploration? How has the pandemic taught us to be content at home? How have these hints of major supply disruptions (especially with food) prepared us to go with less or, in the case of food, with what is in season with no exception?
I will be recording the first wave of the Her Deepest Ecologies podcast this month and I am so excited for you to meet the friends and visionaries I plan to talk with about these issues and more. I will be posting more about them here in the upcoming months and sharing fairly regularly posts between now & next spring.
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