It’s early November and the bank clock announces a balmy seventy degrees. I shake my head in disgust, car window rolled down several inches. Arriving at the post office, the chatty postman says, “Good morning! What a day! I would love to be outside today!” The wind is up, leaves swirling on the too warm breeze and instead of agreeing with him, which I actually do, I say something like, “It’s too weird, unnatural.” He looks at me, disappointed, probably thinking what a downer I am. One of those environmentalists. “Leave the door open on your way out, “ he calls, trying to stay upbeat amidst my gloomy protestations.
The day is magnificent, he’s right. The sky is wrapped in shades of dusky blue and gray. The sunlight is hitting the trees in that almost divine way, bathing the leaves in color; light here, dark there, forcing me to pull my car over and just look. The night was warm and full of stars when my puppy needed to go out. The howling wind had woken us both up. I padded out in only my nightgown and slippers. No need for even a robe. My pup and I looked up, watching clouds scudding across the star-dotted sky. He cocked his head as he listened to the coyotes yipping far off in the distance. So warm, so strange and new, yet oddly comforting.
It’s been said that while we were busy discussing climate change, climate changed.
I’ve fought so hard against this change for most of my life; running from one protest march to the next to save the whales, to stop big oil, to decrease our carbon footprint. I’ve reduced, reused, recycled, composted, bought gas-sipping cars, climbed on soapboxes, asked people to turn off their idling engines, angering them in the process, written eco-themed novels, and tried to live the most conscious life I could.
I’ve been thinking a lot about my postman. Does he not get the implications of this unnaturally warm November? Isn’t he worried about floods and storms and landslides, hurricanes and wild fires burning out of control? Do the plea-filled envelopes he delivers, adorned with photographs of ailing bats and drowning polar bears, move him not at all?
Or is he simply a person living in the moment and enjoying a beautiful day? Is he merely being present when someone walks into the post office flushed and windswept, with only a windbreaker for protection when in the past they would be swathed in wool and down? And if so, is there anything wrong with that? Is it a sign of naïveté? Ignorance? Denial? Is he a Zen master in disguise teaching me to enjoy the sun on my face and a cup of coffee on my deck, sitting on furniture that normally would have been stored away in preparation for a long cold winter?
I picked a violet the other day. Just a lone violet growing in the November grass. I put it in a tiny vase and admired its purple perfection, all the while being disturbed by its late presence. Today, I watch my two dogs basking in the sun, my twelve-year-old dachshund, blissfully rolling in the warm still-green grass while the puppy gnaws on the stump of a dead tree, both oblivious to global warming or whatever this new paradigm signifies. They are simply enjoying a warm November day. My puppy looks up from his stump to watch a yellow butterfly flutter past. A butterfly. In November.
There are two woodstoves in my house that have been lit twice since my wood was delivered. By this time years past I would have gone through a quarter of a cord. So how do I come to terms with this change? Do I adapt? Fight it? Accept it? Complain? I’m not sure. I do know that when the winter winds blast in from Canada, I’m ready for the Costa Rican Pacific. I’m not a hypocrite, but I don’t want to be a purveyor of doom. Change is definitely happening. There’s no denying that the world is heating up. But today, on this unusually warm November day, from where I sit, it’s beautiful.
There’s a story of a man falling off a cliff to his death. On his way down he sees a flower growing from a rock and smiles. Can I be that guy?
I think I’ll go to the post office and get some clarity. And my mail.
Jana Laiz is the author of the triple award-winning novel, Weeping Under This Same Moon; Moonbeam Silver Medal Winner The Twelfth Stone; Elephants of the Tsunami; the co-author of “A Free Woman On God’s Earth, The True Story of Elizabeth “Mumbet” Freeman, The Slave Who Won Her Freedom”; Thomas & Autumn; Simon Says ~ Tails Told By The Red Lion Inn Ambassador; and Billy Budd in the Breadbox, The Story of Herman Melville & Eleanor. A former refugee resettlement counselor and ESL teacher, Jana believes that honoring diversity can change the world. She is passionate about our beautiful planet and endeavors to make a difference in the world through her writing. She is the very first Writer-In-Residence at Herman Melville’s beloved Arrowhead and the co-publisher of Green Fire Press. Her latest book is Blanket of Stars. She lives in the Berkshire Hills of Massachusetts. Photo by Jane Feldman.