Rivers frozen hard under deep snow roared to life, and all over Central Vermont last week steam could be seen rising from sugar houses as the first of the new crop of maple syrup was being boiled down. People in shorts, kids playing in the mud and cars deep in muddy ruts as the back roads thawed.
This week we are back to March roaring in with impressive ferocity. I watched snow fill the air white to overflowing with wind and bitter cold. The newly formed vernal ponds I saw on a walk just five days ago may well be totally frozen this morning along with the hopes of some that winter is over. Regardless of last week’s hints at Spring, March insists “More winter!”
The natural world is adapting to the wild swings and increasing temperatures we humans have wrought. Adapting does not mean evolving which is a much longer process; rather, adapting means some species are moving to find new places while others—whole species, in fact—are simply no longer able to live. “Resilience,” that oh-so-favorite word of those of us fighting climate change, suddenly rings hollow. While the natural world seems to rest solidly on a broad, solid base, it turns out we’ve managed to melt and change it in ways that only a short time ago were unimaginable.
Last week I enjoyed a long walk in new snow and warming sunshine deep into the woods. As depressing as it can be to see the rampant changes brought about by human activity, these woods still inspire! I left renewed and more determined than ever to do what I can to help keep our influence at bay.
In the bright light of that walk I was particularly inspired to see the whole worlds—literally—that exist on the bark of trees and imagine the further worlds that exist within those worlds. Under the snow among the intertwining roots of the forest are other worlds we can barely begin to understand, though we now have a vague awareness they are probably powerful forces in the carbon balance of the Planet, no small or irrelevant task. Regardless of the weather, a long walk in the woods is a good place to tune into the current health of the Planet.
In the last light of the day I wonder if the President would join me on a walk in the woods—during any weather—so he can see these small, vital worlds? We depend on them as surely as he believes we depend on Wall Street or our military or tweeting. I suggest these small worlds are far more important.