Closet of Anxieties Environment Garden Politics

Summer Hypnosis

How I found myself swaddled in a cocoon of global warming

We are crawling into the Dog Days now, and even though they’re shorter, their swampy afternoons make time stand still. The spring flowers are fraying, the undug potato plants sag under the weight of their sun-crumpled leaves, and Japanese beetles have filagreed some of the chestnut leaves.

Canada is on fire. The smoke drifts south, and when it reaches the North Carolina Piedmont, I feel like I’m breathing with one lung. I check my right nostril, then my left, to see if one is clogged. Nope.

Bob and I took the threat of Global Warming seriously twenty years ago. We threw ourselves into the recycling movement, tried not to buy too much new stuff, did our best to use and reuse, started using biodiesel, and stopped eating meat. Yet we continued—with some guilt—to fill bags of household trash destined for the landfill.

We recently bought his and hers Teslas, complete with chargers, and discussed installing solar panels to offset our driving habit. We grow some of our food, seldom eat out, and rarely buy new clothes.

But it’s hard to feel complacent when the world’s on fire. All the predictions are coming true: the super tornadoes, monster storms, and now a heat wave sweeping across the lower United States.

Summer Hummer

I watch a young hummingbird—tiny and dark-headed—dip its beak into the center of the metal flower, its miniature toes curled around the perch. I count three this year: an adult male, a long-torsoed female, and this one youngster. They must be a family, yet they body slam each other all through the adjacent air space Star Wars style.

How long before our politicians agree to make good on their climate change promises? How much longer can I use our hummingbird feeders as a distraction?

Two maxims fight for attention in my brain:
“If you aren’t part of the solution, you’re part of the problem,” and
“Stay in the now.”

I was an activist in my forties and fifties. Now, pushing seventy, I’ve passed the baton. I realize that my “simple” life puts more strain on the planet than the average world citizen’s life does—as an American, I have more resources at my disposal—but I will try not to guilt myself over this. I’ve decided to let the little birds hypnotize me, and allow the summer heat to lull me into a torpor. I will slow my footfalls to match my lungs.

Evening primrose in the morning

I hear the Wood thrush warble its lovely song from a few trees away, perhaps one of our majestic Willow Oaks. Our Evening primrose blossoms—creamy yellow—are still open. It’s only 66° and the sun has not yet cleared the trees to brush them closed with its hot breath. The air smells richly alive. I can feel its moisture on my tanned arms. I lean back and let summer take me.

By Camille Armantrout

Camille lives with her soul mate Bob in the back woods of central North Carolina where she hikes, gardens, cooks, and writes.

2 replies on “Summer Hypnosis”

Lovely. So much better than being crushed by a stultifying wall of solid heat…

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