It's late November. And there are rhododendrons and magnolias, and lilies, and roses, blooming in our neighborhood. In New England.
I really didn't notice until about a week ago, when I noticed a few rhododendron blossoms here and there. Then I noticed the magnolia trees on the Brown campus were budding out, just the way they usually do in March and April, with those huge obscene buds. And what do you know? They popped.
It's colder and rainy today, and it will probably freeze tonight. So the trees have wasted a lot of energy for nothing.
This isn't really new. Two years or so ago, I was in downtown Providence around this time of year, and the cherry trees by Kennedy Plaza were in bloom.
In New England!
I first arrived in Rhode Island in 1978, six months after the big blizzard of that year. The winter of 1978/9 was snowy and bitterly cold; I got frostbite on my knuckles from carrying a suitcase down the street for twenty minutes without gloves on. Two years later, there was another bitterly cold winter, with wind chills down around twenty below.
Those days are past, however. We still get cold winters, but the timings are all off. The plants are confused. They're blooming in the wrong seasons, at the wrong times. Cold weather is followed by unexpected warm spells, and the plants go into panic mode, I think.
I'm no botanist, and I'm obviously no climate scientist. But things are changing, becoming more volatile. More than volatile: unpredictable.
And there's nothing to be done about it. Whether (as seems obvious to me) it's human interference, or whether it's simply part of some larger ice-age / pluvial-age / sunspot cycle, it's already begun, and nothing can stop it.
This is the grim thing about writing a blog called “FutureWorld.” I don't think the future is going to be a very nice place for the people who come after us. I don't think they'll have much to thank us for. I suspect they'll think of us pretty nastily; they'll know we did exactly what we felt like doing, and we left the place in a mess.
I'm so sorry, and I wish I could tell them so. I'm doing the stupid little bits and pieces than I can, to keep my footprint small and light. But I know that my contribution probably won't make a hell of a lot of difference.
I hope they forgive us.
This is Ursula LeGuin, in a poem written from the point of view of our descendants:
In your ending when the words were forgotten,
in your ending when the fires burned out,
in your ending when the walls fell down,
we were among you:
dying your dying to come closer,
to come into our world, to be born.
We were the sands of your sea-coasts,
the stones of your hearths. You did not know us.
We were the words you had no language for.
O our fathers and mothers!
We were always your children.
From the beginning, from the beginning,
we are your children.