Yesterday the track meet was cancelled and today girl’s soft ball was washed out, not what you could call tragedies in today’s nervously expectant atmosphere, but at the very least a kind of pictogram describing the state of our climate here in Oneonta, May of 2011. You can’t say we weren’t warned. The perennials are falling all over each other and whatever rhyme and reason Betsy’s resistance to my sense of disorder had established has taken a hike, you could say.Hosta under the lilac bush on the side of the house has buried the aliums called Sunny Twinkles when I got them through an ad years ago, and also a wild flower I can’t identify and whch I have only seen once before. It is the first spring plant beyond crocus and snow drops, a well mannered plant, that is growing in its compact way, and in fact allowing itself to get run over. Jim has been working over time, his crew busy for two days pumping out basements,and the drain up just one house from us is bubbling up and flowing down hill in the street.
Of course I know this is all small potatoes compared with the ravages the Mississippi has been performing down south. We have been trying to control that river since the early 19th century, only to learn that we just can’t do it, not even with our miraculous human intellect. John McPhee, in his fine book on the Mississippi, explained in detail the many efforts we have made to hold the mississippi in its banks, somehow not being able to see that there really weren’t all that many banks available to hold the water in place. Of course, levees were to us bank substitutes. Lewis and Clark noticed almost at once that the Missouri River, which feeds the Mississippi from the west, is similarly situated as it rolls slowly through the great plains after leaving the Rocky mountains behind. There is such a lot of water, so much more than there used to be now that the glaciers are beginning to melt off the peaks. It’s all going down hill, just as the small stream down Woodside is on its way to the Susquehanna., to empty at last into Chesapeake Bay, and thence to the Atlantic. Water sparkles across the universe seeming to tinkle and twinkle across the universe, the sound of it we imagine to be so merry and bright that we must feel happy.
I think these cheery images must try to console us for all the bad decisions we have made, supposing in our hubris that our power to direct the workings of the planet supercedes that of gravity and its destructive ways. There isn’t any point in pretending that the signs of our errors are in every rush of ruin down a mountain stream, in every gurgle of all the rain drops that we believe to be there for us at our beck and call. Because we don’t really get to make a choice, we just have mistakenly thought we did. That has been our mistake.