Thursday, June 2, 2011

Wet Dreams

Here’s the scene. California sometime in the mid 60’s. My first husband named John was in the Air Force. We were renting a little house in Vacaville. You drove out of town, through a trailer park, then came to the orchard. There were three houses in the orchard; ours, the landlords (Gerry and Vern), and a tiny cottage right next to a dried up creek where Eunice and Bill lived. 
Gerry and Vern were grandparents. Gerry babysat for her new grandbaby. She was potty training him. He was three months old. My own babies were one and a half, and two and a half years old, and I was potty training them too. We had differing philosophies on training our little watering cans.
Vern worked as a prison guard at the California Medical Facility (the prison for the criminally insane). He was a sweet, gentle man, who’d rather be tending his orchard. My babies and I loved Vern. He was grandpa.
Gerry was tough. She totted a gun. A rifle. A bunch of big brown fat birds had been marauding our shared garden, so Gerry shot one that was snacking on tomatoes. Gerry said it tasted like chicken. Later we learned that some peacocks had escaped from a nearby farm. 
That year there was rare serious flooding north of us. We heard on the news that the flooding was so bad that rattle snakes were moving south. Water was rising.The normally dry creek was over-flowing next to Eunice and Bill’s little cottage. Gerry shot a snake that didn’t have a rattle.
Water kept rising. I was terrified. We went to bed one night and I wanted the babies in bed with us. Terrible fear. What if? What if? My first husband named John tried consoling me. “Don’t worry,” he said. “The flooding is far far north of us.” 
But what if? What if? 
I was starting to irritate him.
In the night all color is drained out by darkness. Fear bloats in the dark. Then morning arrives with bright blues, yellows and whites that make the fears feel silly. I slept fine, but John had spent the night reaching down to check the floor, expecting to find it wet.
The bad floods never reached us.
Now my second husband named John and I watch the news. Flooding. Flooding all over the place. Terrible flooding all along the Mississippi. Flooding locally. 
Water filled my daughter’s back yard, came in the door with her when she entered her house. In the bloated dark of night, I couldn’t sleep, thinking of sandbagging her back door. I need bags of manure for the garden. Could we manure-bag to protect her house from the waters? 
But then the rain stopped and suddenly it was 90 degrees in May.
I picked broccoli from my garden two weeks ago, the raspberries are already budding out. The poppies are blooming. When the poppies bloomed my grandmother used to say, “Well, summer’s over,” which made my mother and I laugh. Poppies bloomed in mid to late June. Summer was just beginning. It’s June 2nd.
Chicago is taking measures for a future expected to be hotter and wetter. They’re converting alleys to have permeable surfaces to absorb water. They’re air-conditioning more buildings.
“Global warming threatens the world’s security and existence,” this comes from the Vatican. Surprise. Surprise. I rarely agree with the Vatican. 
"Archbishop Celestino Migliore, apostolic nuncio of the Holy See’s permanent mission to the U.N., stressed that the scientific evidence for global warming and mankind’s role in the increase of greenhouse gasses “becomes ever more unimpeachable” and its effects already impacting the world community.”
Meanwhile, back at the farm, or back in the cities and suburbs, some folks deny that man has anything to do with climate change. If we didn’t do it, then we don’t have to do anything about fixing it, right? “I didn’t spill the milk, I’m not cleaning it up.” “Just leave me alone, unregulated.” “I can't let down my shareholders.” “Let me put my profits in Swiss accounts or the campaign funds of some cooperative politicians.” 

It's easy to criticize the other guys. 

Me, personally, what can I do? Conserve. Use less. Drive less. Buy local. Don't waste water. Don't put toxins in the air. 

Oh, geez, am I getting preachy? Sorry.
But, I would like to know what’s happening to all those people along the Mississippi. How are they managing? Is the muck shoveled from their kitchens?
Instead the news tells me that Sarah Palin is on a bus tour and, oh yeah, having a dinner with Donald Trump.
So how’s that workin’ out for ya.