The sky got so dark today it felt like we’d made a pillow fort, hiding under until our parents got home.
Thunderstorms – there’s nothing quite like them to jog you. You could be buried in the deepest office and still hear the sky crack and clouds shake open. And watching the rain come down reminds you what it takes to grow.
We rode out the storm for three hours this afternoon while the power went in and out. The bank got dark then brighter. I was helping a woman open a checking account and tried to hurry. No luck. When we were done, she was facing the full faucet of the storm.
Now it’s cooler. The rain scooped the heat out. And we’ve already forgotten a week of hundred degree weather, content to chirp with the frogs all evening, reveling in something comfortable, and that’s okay, as long as we wake up tomorrow without forgetting what it as like to be bone-dry and half-starved, that the world is still just one week away from roasting, that we’re responsible, like it or not.
Why the Egyptian, Arabic, Abyssinian, Choctaw? Well, what tongue does the wind talk? What nationality is a storm? What country do rains come from? What color is lightning? Where does thunder go when it dies?
The old creek-bed dried out. There was a dead snake at the head of the road. Now that the sun’s gone down, everyone’s coming out to walk their dogs, only the heat’s not done and the dogs are flustered, scared of the way the asphalt feels when it’s been cooked.
If your friend tells you the world’s not dying, you must smack them, aiming for the spot triangulated between their nose and eyes. If your partner tells you something similar, coax them to bed, and try to prove the world’s worth loving, breathing deep so you’re sucking up more of the hot carbon to prove your point.
This week, there were record-setting high temperatures in Europe.
I got home and filled a white bowl with tap water then set it outside. There’s a longhair black and white cat that comes around. I saw her poking under my neighbor’s car. It’s 100 degrees. She was hiding from the heat so I figured she could use the water. When I came back, though, she’d run away. I left the bowl on the ledge we use for putting down bags as we get the door. I haven’t seen go for the water. She’s a skittish thing. But I once found her meowing at midnight outside my window so I know she knows how to get here. Tonight, at midnight, maybe she’ll come have a drink.
All day, the heat was all anyone could talk about. Pundits puttered about droughts and early fires. There was a break around noon when some clouds came over but then it was right back to the convection. Most of the gossip goes like this: “I’d have to wake up two hours earlier if I was to mow my lawn today!” One guy came in with a green hat and long sleeves. He works outside, construction. The heat must have been unbearable in all those layers, but I guess it’s better than getting burned.
Every year, the same old voices are loudly denying climate change. Meanwhile, a hole opened up so big over Australia that it’s killed off the Great Barrier Reef. It’s okay, I think, to destroy something if you’ve got a purpose. It’s okay to cut down a forest to build houses for your family. But the people bearing the brunt of climate change aren’t the ones benefiting from the destruction. Mostly those too poor to move out of the way of tidal waves or heat death. That’s a bit depressing. It’s aggressive. One man turning up the temperature in all the other rooms while sipping ice-cold margaritas. We should all be fixing margaritas for each other, or else settling for a splash of tequila in a salted shot.
Burn the world a little bit if you have to, but do so equitably, and with enough sense to leave the house out of the fire.
Currently Reading: Have picked a new book but not had the chance to start it yet; more info to come
The rain turned our city to a salt lick. All that urban runoff. Wet tar, natural gas heaters. Mother of pearl pools full of oil. I wonder what the rain looked like ten thousand years ago? I bet it was sweeter – nothing but the plants to soak it up.
You and I are killing our world. But it’s not really our fault. When you’re born in a world where the only comfort is consumable, you consume it. And when it’s gone you look for more. Nothing wrong with turning on the heater on a cold February day. Nothing wrong with washing more paper down the toilet. It’s the world you know. It’s an edifice carefully crafted by your grandfather. All of our grandfather’s were woodworkers, tinkering away in converted closets on spare time, trying to build a world where their grandchildren wouldn’t have to think or hurt or dream ever again.
My mother was talking about this sunspot that’s going to save us. It’s a grand cooling, where the sun will lower it’s radiation mercifully for a few hundred years. And maybe it will happen, maybe it will counteract the industrial glut we choke on daily, but to what end? So those of us with money and power can go on digging graves of dinosaurs and burning them to take trips to the beach, or our daughter’s to prom, or our ailing parents to that closest hospital that’s still a dozen miles away? Sure, because those are all nice things. Meanwhile, the people truly left behind will watch their crops shake and shatter at a change of a few degrees. One way or the other, whether the temperature goes up or down, we push off our consequences on the least fortunate.
A lovely electric glow on this computer screen. Burning time so I can write this tiny letter to you all. It’s all I know how to do.
Novel Count: 23,882
Currently Reading: Killing Commendatore, Haruki Murakami
[I]f I can be sure of any aspect of your character, it is that you are not as I. Since all I can do here is imagine you in my image, of course I have failed. I was as fossil fuels made me. They kept my lights on. Hence I who imagine myself to be open-minded will appear to you as deservedly dead, fossilized in the stratum of my own period’s prejudices.
William T. Vollmann, No Good Alternative: Volume Two of Carbon Ideologies