Wednesday, December 12, 2012

My Mother Always Said Patience is a Virtue --By Lauren Kong

Sometimes I catch him just sitting and staring out the window; sitting in the sun room  head on the arm of the couch, waiting. He will inhale deeply, expanding his barreled chest oh so wide, followed by a deep sigh that emanates from his mouth. The sigh is a sign of his patience getting weary; he’s been waiting for a long time. He doesn't know when it will be here, but he is almost sure that it will come….almost.
Here in Indiana, we had an unseasonably warm November. And December has also started with extremely mild weather; we have had 50-60 degree temperatures. Anyone who has lived in Indiana for more than 5 years knows that we typically have had snow by now and wearing shorts or a tank top in the month of December is definitely not practiced by the average citizen. But, alas, I walked outside on Saturday in my tank top to put some recyclables in the recycling bin.

Last winter was like this too. We had an extremely warm winter with almost no snowfall and many days of record high temperatures. This of course was followed by the driest summer on record, directly affecting the yield of all crops here in Indiana. Since we are a part of the ‘Bread basket of the world,” I know that this could also affect food prices.

 I have lived in central Indiana my entire life, all 27 years. I remember the winters more than any other season: the slick roads, my stepfather adhering chains to the tires of the lawn mower so we could plow the driveway and get the cars out, the school closings (once for an entire two weeks after Christmas break-giving us 4 weeks off total ). I also remember sledding and making snow angels with my sister; throwing snowballs at the dogs. I remember the large ice stalactites that form at the edge of the gutters and watching them fall from a distance when it was sunny out and they began dripping water; mom screaming at us to stand back and not to get under it, nervous for our safety. Sometimes it was snowing heavily by Thanksgiving and we almost always had a white Christmas.

The past couple of Christmas’ haven’t been white.

In the winter of 2010, we had what the media referred to as “Snowpocalypse.” We had inches of ice that year; not so much snow, but lots of freezing rain and sleet. Recently, it hasn't even done that. It just drizzles rain occasionally and we have a morning frost about 3 times a week.  We have had pockets of cold weather here and there, in between the tank top temperatures, but nothing that has required snow boots or a car scraper. There has been no waking up to freshly fallen snow and the crunching sound it makes under your shoes. I notice it is the look and sound of snow I miss the most.
Moe digging in the snow, helping Jin clear the sidewalk

 I also have also witnessed others beginning to notice.

When in public I find myself overhearing conversations about the erratic weather. It is actually quite the topic here in Indiana; we are accustomed to some erratic weather, a random snow storm in May or June, or a couple of days of 80 degree weather in October, but we aren’t used to atypical weather lasting weeks and even months; making it no longer atypical right? Last winter, while at the post office I was talking to an elderly woman while in line. “I haven’t had to shovel my walkway this year” she said. “I have shoveled my walkway at least once every winter for 65 years; this is the first year I haven’t had to. Something is up,” she said, “and I don’t like it.” I agreed with her and said that I too don’t like it and find it eerie. She seemed to understand that the changing weather means worse things are on the horizon, but the majority of the people whom I overhear seem to enjoy the warmer weather. “I could get used to this” is the most common reply, followed by “I love wearing shorts in December!”

It surprises me that no one attributes this irregular weather to climate change, to our human impact on this Earth, or to carbon dioxide levels in our atmosphere. I cannot understand why people do not bring up climate change in these conversations, the conversations about the changing climate. It is just brushed off as a ‘lucky’ opportunity to wear shorts and to not have to warm your car up in the morning.  

I guess I should just be happy that people are noticing the changing weather, it is a step in the right direction; however, it surprises me that they aren't worried about it. Even after the scorching hot summer and the negative impact it had on the farmers, people still make jokes. I think that the only being I know not making jokes about the warm weather is Moe, our dog.

He is definitely noticing the lack of snow and he noticed last year too. He is the only one whom I have witnessed depression slowly sinking in with every 50 and 60 degree day.

Every year Moe looks forward to winter. He hates hot weather and often refuses to go outside if it is 85 degrees or hotter. Once the leaves start turning color his energy level begins to rise and he gets more excited to be outside. The past few weeks have been hard on him; the temperature has been fluctuating, one week we might experience 30 degree weather, the next 55 degree weather and we haven’t had any snow.  The weeks that are cold, Moe is in a happy, excited mood spending more time outside. The weeks that are warmer, he begins losing his winter hair and doesn’t appear to get excited about anything; not even visiting friends.

During the colder temperatures Moe will sit, typically in the sun room where it is the coldest and just look out the window. I know he’s waiting for the snow to arrive, waiting for the moment that he gets to feel the cold wetness between the pads of his feet for the first time that season.  It is during these long waiting periods that he sighs heavily, his patience growing weary. I know that the snow is his refuge, offering a type of canine freedom only he can experience.

Moe has been waiting a long time too. Last winter we didn’t get snow, at least not enough for a dog to go bounding through. As I watch Moe sitting and waiting, knowing that there is supposed to be snow and there isn’t, I realize that he is one of few creatures I’ve interacted with who recognizes that the climate is changing and not for the better.

And yet, like so many of us, he’s just sitting and waiting. 

The more I get to know man, the more I love dogs--Charles de Gaulle

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