Here and Now

March 31st, and we may see a little snow here in southern New England, to go with the flowers now in full bloom in Olmsted Outlook, tended by the intrepid Olmsted Irregulars.

I’ve just received word via email blast that today’s “Chicken in the Snow” fundraiser has been cancelled “due to inclement weather.”  What?  Isn’t a little adverse weather the whole idea?  But we can be glad that all of the chicken dinners–250 of them–are being donated to the Community Dining Room courtesy of the Guilford Rotary.

One year ago I posted First Frost/Last Frost to Some/Home, and during these last few days–as spring arrived about a month early–it has received a spike in hits.

Between then and now we experienced the infamous “October snowstorm” (aka “arbor-geddon”) that knocked out power to 800,000 homes–more than tropical storm Irene in August (and forced the resignation of the CEO of Connecticut Power & Light).

There was plenty of occasion that week to drop into a conversation, say at the community center serving breakfasts, that the essential character of climate change is not warming.  It is unpredictability.  Nonetheless, this was the only winter when, in the memory of local old-timers, the ground did not freeze–not in this town.

I am re-reading Annie Dillard’s Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, and this morning this is what I find:

I have been thinking about the change in seasons. I don’t want to miss spring this year. I want to distinguish the last winter frost from the out-of-season one, the frost of spring. I want to be there on the spot the moment the grass turns green. I always miss this radical revolution; I see it the next day from a window, the yard so suddenly green and lush I could envy Nebuchadnezzar down on all fours eating grass.

This year I want to stick a net into time and say “now” as men plant flags on the ice and snow and say, “here.” But it occurred to me that I could no more catch spring by the tip of the tail than I could untie the apparent knot in the snakeskin; there are no edges to grasp. Both are continuous loops.

In 1973, when Annie Dillard was writing Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, I was her neighbor, living a mile or so away on the slope of the same Tinker Mountain in Virginia.  Climate change was nowhere on the horizon.  Now, I have little doubt that she continues to watch for the mystical transformation of the season.  And wonder, as do we all, what the seasons will bring for our children.

Oil painting by William Blake. Nebuchadnezzar’s story is told in the Hebrew Bible, the Book of Daniel.  Wikipedia offers this summary: “While boasting about his achievements, Nebuchadnezzar is humbled by God. The king loses his sanity and lives in the wild like an animal for seven years. After this, his sanity and position are restored and he praises and honors God.”


About John Wackman

A writer since I learned to hold a pencil (no, not like that...hold it like this!). Long-time writer/producer for television, now organizer of Repairs Cafes in the Hudson Valley (13 & counting!) -- Program Manager of Solarize Hudson Valley, non-profit, state supported, community sponsored renewable energy program. We're all re-inventing ourselves. It's a sci-fi world, isn't it?
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