Spring for Christmas

Aviva Rahmani Writes From Vinalhaven, Maine
December 24, 2006

It is a beautiful spring day on Vinalhaven Island, Maine. The sun shines brightly on the bright green grass. Shortly, I will leave for church to sing in the choir without the need of a jacket or gloves. The sound of the seagulls isn't quite the same as song birds. But soon, I might enjoy the smell of fresh cut grass.

What is wrong with this picture? It is going to be Christmas eve in a few hours today and it doesn't look a bit like we'll have a white Christmas up here in the north land.

The only give away of the season, after the gulls have passed by, is the unearthly stillness of the place. Unlike the spring storms, winter ocean waters are calmer, perhaps too chilled to be as active as they will be in a few more months. There are neither sounds of lawnmowers, despite my predictions, nor the engines of the fishing boats. Briefly, I did hear a four-wheeler doing wheelies on the dirt road at the park not far from my house, but that too passed. And it IS too cold for the sounds of drunken teenagers I might otherwise hear calling from car to car.

The good parts of global warming include that I can still do weeding in my garden- useful, if like me, you were too busy in the fall to finish cleaning up. My elderly dog is less reluctant than usual in the winter to go outside and brave the elements. She hasn't come back once, shaking like a leaf, even in her plaid winter overcoat. She doesn't even need her plaid winter coat.

The bad parts include that the entire fishing culture here on the island is threatened by the same carbon dioxide emissions that cause unnaturally green grass in December. Global warming is acidifying the oceans at alarming rates, promising more lost corals and disrupted food chains. Along with everything else threatening the fisheries, add that.

Of course energy giants are stumbling over each other, salivating over opening opportunities in once pristine and still fragile places such as the Barents Sea, Norway but Papua new Guinea and the Sunderbans of India are drowning, people, fisheries and tigers with them. I think about these things and the starving polar bears as I wander through my heather garden, which is flourishing but the wrong color.

Heathers are the most sensitive plants to temperature changes, shifting from greens to oranges in hours as the temperatures descend. I first planted them here for spring mud season, when nothing else looks cheery. Now, we seem to have a mud season that may last seven months. And the heathers are as vivid green as the confused grass.

Speaking to someone yesterday of the still stubborn naysayers about global warming and Al Gore's movie, I exclaimed in exasperation, "soon, they can all swim to Gore and tell him whether they still think he is wrong." By then, perhaps my elderly dog will be long gone but I won't be and neither shall you.

© 2006