Christmas in the Tropics
I walked down Charles Street, the charming and quaint commercial center of my neighborhood, and was not at all alarmed to see that a few of the shops already have Christmas merchandise in their windows, and a few decorations up. It is, after all, well after Halloween. When the street is fully decorated in early December, it will be lovely: greenery, red bows, gas lamps, brick sidewalks, shops that aren't mega-chains. (We do have a 7-Eleven Starbucks, and a Zoots, but the rest are on-offs or small-locals.)
No, the "Christmas comes early" is not going to bother someone like me who's generally done her shopping by Thanksgiving.
But it was odd to see the Christmas tree stand set up in front of Cafe Vanille when it's still 70 degrees out.
Mid-November. 70 degrees. I used to love out-of-season weather: Indian summer, January thaw, freak May snowstorms. Now I wonder.
I know that White Christmas is a statistical improbability, but I also know that, while the leaves have long turned around here, most of them are still on many of the trees around here, included our Chinese dogwood. I've usually raked-up by now. The impatiens I planted last July in the flower boxes out front are still blooming and vibrant.
On NPR yesterday, I heard that fewer and fewer baby polar bears are surviving - to many shrinking ice floes in Alaska. And this week's New Yorker has a piece on our dying oceans.
Whether you accept the global warming argument - or choose to believe that what's happening is, like the Ice Age, merely a natural shift - something's happening and as a polity, economy, and society, we are not taking it seriously enough. Even if you believe that the shifting climate, dying oceans, and shrinking ice floes are just part of the ebb-and-flow of nature, shouldn't we still be doing something more to manage it so that it will do less harm to our homes and businesses, to the people and places we love? When the Ice Age happened, there weren't all that many people to get crushed under the glacier. That's no longer the case. This rising tide is going to lift more than boats.
The insurance industry sees this coming. Obviously their concern is smart business. They're the ones getting the early-on financial hits. We're hearing isolated instances of businesses going greener (those dual-flush toilets in LL Bean that I wrote about the other day). But the level of alarm, and the level of response, are still too low. I hope that we're at the tipping point where our fragile environment will become more part of our business, political, and civil consciousness. And that we're not yet at the environmental tipping point where there's no stopping Waterworld.
Even if most of my New England Christmases haven't been all that white, many of them have been. I hope that I haven't seen the last of them.