Surviving Summer

Everyone is complaining about the rain, the gray, the cold, the non-summer season we are experiencing here in the Northwest. In the rest of the country there is the searing heat. It is easy to complain about the weather. There is no immediate target for blame (the issue of climate change aside). There is no compulsion for the conscientious to write a letter to a senator or representative, or the editor of a local paper, no need to change political parties, or join an organization for change. There isn’t much we can do that will change the weather in the immediate future. And yet there are oodles of forums and blogs on the Internet discussing weather. We have a lot to say and a fascination with something we have very little control over. I do not mean we do not impact climate, but the day-to-day weather is beyond our immediate reach for management.

In all that it does, Nature has a remarkable way providing us opportunities for learning and introspection. Weather is no exception. Acceptance? Resignation? How un-American! We are a culture of action – if you are unhappy, do something about it! I’m reminded of cultures who live with dramatic, extreme weather every year – monsoons, sandstorms, unbearable heat one season, frigid cold the next. People who live with these extremes have adapted to them, have rituals, methods of survival, developed a level of sustainability that has lasted for centuries – when the climate anomalies happen, the expected monsoon does not come, the temperatures modify, plants that have adapted don’t flourish, nor do the animals and people dependent upon them, sustainability falters.

Our weather anomalies, still within the temperate zone, have a less dramatic affect on us – or do they? Will produce prices rise with smaller harvestable crops this year, due to lack of sun in the west, or rain in the heartlands? Could there actually be a shortage of food? Are we also susceptible to our basic survival needs being threatened by this unusual weather year? There is some evidence this can happen from past years when weather did affected crops, or increased fuel demand, causing supplies to decreased and prices to increased. The dust bowl of the 30s was certainly a time weather seriously affected many lives. Perhaps basic survival instincts are the deeper, unconscious, reason for our complaining, not the wedding that gets rained on, the vacation plans that need to be adjusted, the hike that is canceled.

It isn’t likely our survival is at risk from food shortages, as much as it might be at risk from our lack of adaptability, which obviously is a survival tool applicable in multiple areas of life. The need to adapt to the long range changes in our culture, economy, personal lives may be more critical than adapting to a freaky weather year. We have, as a society, perhaps been lulled into thinking we should have things a certain way. The weather may be giving us an opportunity to strengthen our adaptability muscles.

Maybe we just like to complain about something we can’t change, leaving us with one option – changing ourselves – our perspective and attitude.

It’s stopped raining, think I’ll go out and enjoy a beautiful wet, windy gray summer day!

Post Script: The sun appeared!

Honeysuckle does not seem to mind the gray – and the hummingbirds love the honeysuckle!