The Winter of My Content (But Should I Really Be Content?)
Yep, that's how it should look this time of year, but what you see is a photo taken at Windflower last October, 2011--a Halloween snow that sent a multitude of Princesses and Pumpkins, Fairies and Mermaids, Shreks and Smurfs, and Supermen and Darth Vaders running for their ski parkas and enjoying that brief envelope of warmth when a door leading to sweets opened.
But then, with the exception of a couple of hard freezes, we've been enjoying March weather pretty much the entire winter. And not one of you horse people---especially those of us who have no indoor arenas and rings--can tell me you haven't been glad for it. Yes, I have missed those aerobic rides in the woods when the snow hides all those nasty New England roots and rocks, allowing the horses to trot and gallop for miles. So much fun! But that's when my lateral work suffers. Yes, I do trailer to an indoor arena occasionally and, yes, there's a trail wide enough for me to do a little shoulder-in. But that's about it. However, this winter dressage has been the rule rather than the exception. My arena had been soft and dry for weeks. And it's just two days shy of March 1st. Green shoots of daffodils are here fully thirty days early.
But while those of us in New England have been making full use of the mild season others have not been so lucky. Central and eastern Europe has suffered extreme cold, and if you happened to be in Venice you didn't have to bother hailing a gondola. You could just walk the frozen canals to your destination. Meanwhile, Mexico is in such a state of severe drought that the cacti are wilting!
So, what's going on? Are these extremes (with overall temperatures globally rising slowly over decades) part of climate change? I certainly think so. Unfortunately, the United States is the only advanced country (save Russia) that has a major political party that--for political and economic gain--still equivocates about this or denies it altogether, John McCain being a notable and admirable exception. They say it's just one of these little cycles--happens all the time--Mother Nature's meteorological rhythms: solar activity, North Atlantic or Arctic Oscillation cycles, and so on, factors that are real enough but they don't explain the overall changes across decades and centuries, nor do these natural cycles alone explain the truly extreme weather events we've been having for the last few decades. Yes, records are broken. but we are breaking records at a truly record-breaking pace! The next time a person I'm stuck sitting next to on an airplane counsels me to remember the mini-Ice Age, I shall have to resort to the provided barf bag. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing, as the poet Alexander Pope said. My airplane partner needs to read a lot more.
If you don't want to worry about Boston and New York losing a lot more than a few yards of waterfront, just read The Wall Street Journal editorials. They will soothe you. And, of course, there are the various members of the House and Senate who will tell you it's fine to just "Drill, baby, drill!" and more or less forget everything else. But we must remember the rapacious appetite and influence of big business. For every one member of the U.S. Congress, House and Senate combined, there are five full-time, highly paid registered lobbyists for the fossil fuel industry. The number of unregistered ones is unknown. All this is deeply disturbing. And it certainly is not how the Founding Fathers imagined democracy would function (dysfunction!).
My husband and I have the good fortune of knowing renowned oceanographer and climatologist Jim McCarthy, and his wife Sue, as friends. I talked with Jim McCarthy about all this during a recent visit to their Francestown, New Hampshire, home (also notoriously sans snow in early February). My husband--also Jim--is an active and informed environmentalist, so there was a lot to learn--a lot to listen to. I asked Jim McCarthy for a few lines for this blog. Here they are:
Climate scientists have never been happy with the term "global warming." It sounds benign and maybe appealing; after all, it is only a few degrees. But what climate models have long projected--and experience is now confirming--is that a far more appropriate term is "climate disruption." The atmospheric circulation that brought cold conditions across much of the northern US last winter also brought warm records to a broad swath of central Canada. Think of the jet stream as an undulating ribbon with much higher amplitude waves than usual.
He also provided me with this link, which basically implies that the greenhouse gases we have unleashed into atmosphere are the equivalent of a ball player on steroids: it all comes to no good in the end (and more record breaking, but this time of the sort that causes economic loss and hardship, especially for the poor). Click here:
But the analogy fails in one aspect: the baseball player has deliberately and voluntarily taken steroids, while greenhouse gases are being forced down Mother Nature's throat. And all of us--some more than others--are suffering the consequences. We have deeply offended our planet and have committed, and are continuing to commit, a crime against our children and our children's children.
You've all heard what you can do--recycle! Make sure your school district recycles. When you go to hotel give them hell if they don't. Do not let your car idle. Buy organic when you can. And reduce your intake of meat, especially beef. Any of you who have visited a dairy farm already have had your nostrils inform you that cows produce a lot of methane. We're in serious trouble here, and perhaps, just perhaps, there is time to turn this around. But it needs to be done now, and everyone needs to jump on board. And do whatever it takes to get rid of those lobbyists who gas all day in the ears of your elected officials!
Highway Under Repair!
From planetary abuse to animal abuse: here, pictured below, is Highway. He's not yet had his eye surgery but--with a lot of help from a lot of people--he has cheated the grim reaper. And you know who that grim reaper is in this poor pup's world? The awful shape-shifter who periodically represents himself as human, but is the devil himself? He's the creature who abused and tortured this animal for his own sadistic pleasure and monetary gain, one of the thousands in the country who secretly attend those most heinous "entertainments," pit bull fighting.
Better than the day he arrived. (I inflicted an even earlier, more horrible picture on you in the last blog; no need to inflict it again.) Highway still has a way to go. His former owner--being the economical lad that he is--realized there was no reason to feed a bait dog. After all, he's only in the pit so other dogs can practice their fighting "techniques" on him.
This week Highway will have his eye surgery and then will need to recuperate and gain some strength. We've raised all the money (thousands) needed to see him through this, and when he's up and about he'll then travel to his new home and new owner in northern New Jersey. Here's an even more recent picture. You can see how his poor eyes trouble him:
Highway and Sam Ann Fratesi copyright 2012
And he sure doesn't want to let go of assistant Sam!
I would like to thank all the people who have generously donated to make Highway's recovery possible--Lora, David, Roberta, Marleny, Mari, the Deja Foundation and others. No one should have had to pay for this because "this" shouldn't have been allowed to happen.
Is Rufo, the Pit Bull Mix, Dog Aggressive?
I hope you enjoy this YouTube I put together from Rufo's visits here at Windflower:
Is Rufo "Dog Agressive?" Ainslie Sheridan copyright 2012
Cutter Farm Schooling Jumper Show
This was four-year-old Elementa's first show and she did wonderfully well. The blue is for the "eighteen-inch cross-rails." It was only the second time in her life that she'd been in an indoor arena, but it left her untroubled. In fact, the only thing that seemed to trouble her was that the jumps were too small. We'd entered her in one class but on the day then decided to enter her in the 2' 3" class as well. Juliane and I agreed that this class was to be seen as training--rhythm and relaxation, not speed, was what we were aiming for. Elementa went clear but didn't place. That was just fine with us. Elementa seemed pleased--too pleased, arrogant even. When she left the indoor, she sidled up to another horse and cocked a hind leg. Naughty! And a quick hard bump from Juliane's legs informed her so.
Firefly and Juliane Ainslie Sheridan copyright 2012
I apologize for the graininess of this image, but at least you can see Firefly. The shots I took of Elementa didn't come out because her black color blended with the wall. Firefly also did very well, placing in both her classes. Again, we kept it slow.
If you have a chance, do sign-up for some of Cutter Farm's two phases and jumper shows (Dracut, MA). Marina Burliss makes everything run smoothly and it's a lot of fun. Bonus: show clothes are optional!
Well, that is it for this week. I don't have anything particular scheduled for the blog next week, but knowing this place, something is bound to come up.
Thank you for reading The Windflower Weekly!