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Living at the whim of the weather

Today, April 11, 2012, the weather forecasters are calling for widespread freezing tonight and possibly sleet and snow here in northern Ohio. A month ago, when it should have been snowing, the temperature was around 80 and garden fools actually did some planting, even corn. In a neighbor’s garden the peas are up. They are yellow this morning because the temperature recently was below freezing three nights in a row. So while liberals had a grand time tee-heeing conservatives in March about being in denial over global warming, today the conservatives can tee-hee right back and the liberals have to eat crow or maybe snow.

I don’t think either side has a scientific thing to say of any practical value. They can use the most sophisticated computer modeling to pretend to predict the weather, or study historical and geographical weather patterns in minute detail, but no one can tell me where the next bolt of lightning will strike or when the next frost will settle in. I don’t think the two sides even care about climate science. They just want an excuse to insult each other over politics. It’s what happens when people have too much time on their hands and not enough imagination to fill it with something worthwhile.

In any event, the weather remains forever uncertain and so the lives of food producers are at all times precarious. I think religion got started in agriculture. Living at the utter mercy of uncontrollable weather is enough to drive a godless heathen to his knees. My mother would burn pieces of Palm Sunday palms, saved from church services for that purpose, when a bad storm broke over us. I doubt she believed in such superstition any more than I did but it was something to do. The Navajos did their rain dances hoping to bring a storm on. When Catholics used to be real Catholics, they would march in the fields in spring Rogation Days, singing hymns and sprinkling holy water over the fields. The sprinkles were not enough to stem a drought, but then again they didn’t exacerbate a flood either. It surely wasn’t any more irrational than planting corn in March in northern Ohio. That too is a kind of prayer. Maybe a miracle will happen and it will grow.

After a lifetime of growing food, I am almost paranoid over how close to the brink of disaster we constantly live, just because of weather. Whether one believes in God or in Nature, it still requires great faith to keep putting seeds in the ground. I could say that we do it because it is enjoyable work. But let us be honest. It is not fun to hoe in the garden during a summer drought when the temperature is in the nineties and the deer flies and mosquitoes are whispering sweet nothings in our ears. My theory is that we do it out of sheer bullheadedness. Could Sheer Bullheadedness be a religion? If so, I am the holiest gardener around.

The religion that mystifies me the most is Carbonism with its chants and hymns about carbon footprints, carbon banks and especially carbon credits. I don’t understand it. Do you? The amount of carbon dioxide in the universe must be infinite for all practical purposes and I get real nervous when people try to quantify infinity with numbers. Five percent of infinity is still infinity I think. Since we had to start mowing lawns a month earlier this year, our increased carbon footprint from doing so probably cancels out the touted decrease which no-till farming is supposed to accomplish. (Talk about crazy. I saw an article recently in which a farm expert was telling “no-till” farmers they should consider fewer tillage passages over their fields this year.) In any case, the increase or decrease won’t tell me whether more freezing weather, hail, drought, flood, bugs, diseases, windstorms, Board of Trade speculation, or market fraud will ruin the crops this year. Whatever happens, we will all be assured that it is Obama’s fault, right?
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