November 2, 2013
We had rain for much of the week – several inches, all told. We also had our first hard frost. Gloomy weather makes me a gloomy person, introspective and dour, so full of whys, why nots and so whats, at times I’m ready to cry out, with Macbeth, “Out, out, brief candle! Life’s but a walking shadow …”
Then the sun comes out. The hard frost has finally ramped up the coloring of the trees. Even a cursory glance around the neighborhood, now engulfed in that riot of color, leaves me thinking, umph, not so much, on all that “walking shadow” stuff. (Sorry, Macbeth.)
We have more rain coming next week; even the transitory joy of a bank of blue-black clouds rolling in behind a row of flaming maples will only momentarily postpone my plunge back into introspection and gloom. The price of joy, I suppose, as we wait to find out if we will survive our own follies as a species.
And, introspective or not, the news does not look good. In most of the countries of the world, including my own, the race between fire and water, drought and flood, intensifies. Of the 12 million square miles of arable land – that land fit for cultivation – around the world, we lose over 38,000 square miles of arable land per year due to desertification, urbanization and industrialization. The poisoning of the world’s oceans by heat, radiation and our penchant for plastics continues unabated; native trees die in droves on every continent; the annihilation of other species, due to our activities, has now become a sixth great extinction.
Can we stop ourselves? I don’t know. The money and power to keep us divided and ineffective against the exploitation of our earth seem endless; the myths of progress, infinite growth and techno-rescues seem too alluring. In those moments of introspection and, yes, gloom, I feel sure that nothing I have done – alone or in the various groups I’ve belonged to throughout my life – has made a difference in any of this.
Yet, as I sit here writing, the pole beans in my indoor garden have begun to produce, (the first actual vegetables from five years of indoor, winter gardening,) the squash is blossoming, the peppers are forming those little nodules that precede their blooming. Outside, in the sunshine, leaves cover the lawn, waiting for me to gather them into a blanket for the backyard garden, tomorrow. Monday, the last day of sunshine before the rains move back in, I will plant my onions and cover it all with the straw bales that have patiently awaited the falling of the leaves.
Moments of joy, gathered like the leaves, wherever I find them. Perhaps I am a foolish old woman, but I can no more stop that collecting than I can stop the introspection. Those little joys nourish my inner soil as, like you, I wait to see whether we stop the madness or hurry on to our own extinction. Such are my thoughts after a gloomy week.
(Don’t forget to turn your clocks back tonight.)