In 24 years of living on this place, we have not experienced such intense heat as has oppressed us and our animals and birds this month. We’ve had a break now, but a week ago nothing could move far or even eat in the inferno! The climate change deniers still have their explanations, and “God knows what He is doing” still tops the list. But this is not about climate change the “big picture.” Rather it is about how it looks on the ground where we live.
The extremes of weather we are experiencing have been predicted since the early 80’s and the fact that the planet’s surface temperatures have been stable a decade can be explained by the very worrying fact that the ocean sinks for heat are nearly at peak. Then the earth’s heat will be turned on for real as that last sink stops mitigating global warming.
We had a preview of what that could mean here this summer. First we had unprecedented rainfall without let up. The fruit trees were stressed as they have shallow roots and could not escape the standing water and saturated topsoil. There wasn’t enough time to dry the top layer out before the next deluge. Then we got the worst heat wave without any rain for too long so only those trees that we watered survived. You can see our “death row” with the ghosts of fruit trees past in the photo. I cut the branches off so we could use the trunk to wrap with a chain and extract the entire tree—roots and all. We’ll plant hardwoods on mounds with irrigation the next round. No use to consciously leave them to weather stress as we head into even greater extremes.
As I looked at the bare tree stumps in a row, I couldn’t help but think of Shakespeare’s lovely sonnet #73, his Thanatopsis, which I copied below with one small edit instead of yellow leaves.
That time of year thou mayst in me behold
When darkened fruit, or none, or few, do hang
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,
Bare ruin'd choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.
In me thou seest the twilight of such day
As after sunset fadeth in the west,
Which by and by black night doth take away,
Death's second self, that seals up all in rest.
In me thou see'st the glowing of such fire
That on the ashes of his youth doth lie,
As the death-bed whereon it must expire,
Consum'd with that which it was nourish'd by.
This thou perceivest, which makes thy love more strong,