The Three Seasons Of December - Facing Climate Change 2011

December nature walks reveal spring flowers, heralds of severe climate change already upon us. Reminder to preserve open space.


“Global warming is no longer a tragedy waiting to happen.  We are deep into it.” 

                                   Bill McKibben: “eaarth” (Times Books)

2011’s may be the oddest December of my life.  In its handful of days, December, 2011, proffers three seasons at once.  Only one of them is normal.

A recent drive along the Delaware River, on the New Jersey and the Pennsylvania sides, revealed welcome strands of ice.  These glistening tendrils threw back morning light; later caused last light to dance.  Thin, seemingly fragile, they were properly reminiscent of tinsel on the balsam in our long-ago Michigan living room. 

Be grateful for the any sign of winter, especially ice.  It may be going the way of the passenger pigeon and the dodo.

                           December is not meant to be seasonally diverse.

This close to the winter solstice, we're not supposed to come upon weeds lifting scarlet and crimson leaves to the gods of noontime, at the hem of preserved farmland on #518.  Behind these autumn remnants, stretched reaped rows, --first, of sorghum, then of corn.  Harvest scenes.  No ice.  No snow.

Farther west on #518, plum trees -- alongside a golf course (that used to be resplendent cornfields) are punctuated with pristine pink blossoms.  They flutter as though December air were April zephyrs.  In Kingston, and along Route #518, enormous forsythia trees are in full defiant bloom.

A Friday ago, as I took first post-hip-surgery walk, buttery dandelions grinned beside Kingston's interrupted sidewalks.  It seemed some Hallowe’en “Trick or Treat!".  We are tricking ourselves, as we rejoice in spring blossoms and balmy temperatures.

 Leaving US 1 South, at South Broad Street’s exit to Trenton, crisp yet soft Queen Anne’s lace bobbed beside our car  -- in late December.

 Entering the Hamilton/Trenton/Bordentown Marsh, willows alongside Spring Lake were silky soft and bright gold, sporting their March robes.

 A swan on Spring Lake lifted both wings in territorial display, as though breeding on his mind.  In the past, I watched Spring Lake's mated pair of mute swans thread their way among ice floes.  That was NORMAL.

 Two friends, one in Princeton one in Rocky Hill, report snowdrops in bloom, --between Thanksgiving and Christmas.  In case you cannot quite recall, snowdrops are February's gifts, piercing snowdrifts, hence the name.

 My friend, Marilyn Schmidt, (who saved Buzby’s General Store in the Pine Barrens and had it named to NJ and US Registers of Historic Places), tells of putting up pine roping along her picket fence for the Holidays.  Below her Christmas roping native Pinelands roses were in soft summer bloom.  “The Christmas Rose” is a carol that’s supposed to be about a miracle, not "the new normal."

 You who read my blogs know that am always ‘on my high horse’ concerning the presence and peril of catastrophic climate change.  I didn’t expect to be confronted with it on every healing walk at the end of this tumultuous year.

 The two books I read in Rehab, -- as my new hip was being taught how to work --, were Thomas Berry’s, “The Dream of the Earth”, and Bill McKibben’s “eaarth”.  McKibben so spells the title of his newest book because we no longer inhabit to planet onto which he and we were born

 Mc Kibben's stunning “The End of Nature” came out in 1989. 

 Thomas Berry’s classic “The Dream of the Earth” was published in 1988. 


  An inveterate note-taker, between bouts of physical therapy, inside the front cover, I penned Thomas Berry’s challenge:  “It should not be news that our human destiny is integral with the destiny of the earth.”  His call of action in 1988 was an immediate and determined move “from an anthropocentric to a biocentric paradigm.”  NOBODY’S LISTENING.  “The key danger of our time is not nuclear, but the plundering processes.”      LISTENING?…

 McKibben is even more chilling, writing in our catastrophic century:  “Global warming is no longer a tragedy waiting to happen.  We are deep into it.” 

 In challenging us to “consider Venice,”, McKibben (with an eye particularly upon sea level rise), calls us to attention to the reality that we are all Venice.

 Pink plum blossoms are pretty. 

 Yellow dandelions are cheery. 

 Queen Anne’s lace is refreshing. 

 Yellow willows are silken and calming. 

 Grass green as March is, frankly, blinding.

                                    All are warnings!

Only the ice tendrils along all those Delaware riverine rocks belong in December.  Not 'the flowers that bloom in the spring, tra la!"  Like angels at the manger, these blossoms on all sides herald earth-shattering change.

Never neglect to support your local land trust, such as D&RGreenway.  It has taken us 22 years to save 22 New Jersey miles of nature. 

Everyone should already know that the more there is of nature, the more CO2 is absorbed and the more oxygen exuded. 

The more nature, the more temperature and flood moderation. 

Assiduously support land trusts and other non-profits such as Audubon and Sierra to keep open space open. 

It's not only the polar bears who are severely endangered -- signs of our endangerment are on all sides!

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