Last year was rather awful for the summer and well into the fall. There were a lot of fires and the smoke was thick and there was heat, many days one after another when the temperature was ninety or more, which I don’t recall much of here in Montana. A day or two now and again, but not months of heat, and no rain at all, which does happen. The newspapers say there is a “water deficit” by which I suppose they mean a drought. The water table is below normal. I have wondered how normal was calculated and have yet to hear a useful explanation. There seems to be a witless conspiracy to replace perfectly good words with precise meanings with others not so well found. Drought is replaced by “water deficit” and the silly “impacts” seems to replace “effects” and neither improves much of anything.
People talk of the weather so they can talk about something when they wish to talk. For most of my life the weather has been something that came on and there was not much to do about it and so one complained or approved or felt thankful for the better sort. It hadn’t much spread to it. Not any more. Weather is very politically fraught these days. In Montana, our wondrous Legislature passed a resolution stating that “global warming is good for business.” Last summer’s heat was taken by some as final proof of the End of Days unless……something. Outlaw internal combustion engines, the burning of coal, the use of charcoal fires to cook food on, whatever. This is not going to end well, of course, but there isn’t much to be done about it. Humans are a very successful species and they won’t be the first to eat themselves out of house and home. So it goes.
But here, so far so good, but I hope that the year does not bring abundant fires and smoke and heat. I like living here because it is usually pleasant. Clouds of smoke and walls of flame and days spent coughing and nights spent blowing the hot air out of home are not as much fun as I would like to have. It has gotten warm enough so beetles have killed a dismaying percentage of our forests, and then the great fires of 1910 and 1911 meant a bloom of lodgepole pine–their seeds don’t open unless the cones are fired–and lodgepole pine lives around a century and then the trees die of old age. I have seen writings that state that the entire Rocky Mountain chain’s forests burnt altogether in the middle of the fourteenth century. It could happen again.
Last year a large number of ill-sited homes in many places burned, and the seas took other houses that were built in places that perhaps should not have been built upon ever. My parents lived for decades in the little California college town of Chico, which was built upon topsoil twenty feet deep. Nearby are scablands, useless for agriculture, which would serve for building a town on just fine, thank you. But that didn’t happen and it won’t.
So here I am, hoping for a cool and rainy summer, not so much rain it spoils the fishing, like most people here. We will get what we get, though, and complain if we do not like it. We are a bunch of damned fools and always have been, and never able to make sensible decisions about much of anything. The small questions baffle us and the larger ones offer vast disasters which we seem always to set in train.
So, I do believe I shall go fishing, and later, since it is a nice day, I shall set some hardwood charcoal alight and grill some burgers, and after that play some music and then go to sleep……