These days there is a lushness to the garden that we aren’t used to. We live in a semi-arid area where the rain clouds seem to veer left or right, north or south, before getting to us. I’ve watched great banks of cloud separate and the north half drops a curtain of rain onto the mainland (we are an island jutting out 21 miles into lake Ontario, yet hugging the mainland), while the southern half heads to the south shore of the lake to give the Northern New York folk a spectacular rainfall complete with light show. On the horizon I can see the flashes from my bedroom window as I notice there is clear sky overhead.
So the rain we are receiving is a treat for the farmers, but not so much, I imagine, for the winemakers. Too much rain makes the plants leafy, and I believe the grapes that come are supposed to be in response to dry weather. I planted grapes this year so no doubt I can put that theory to the test.
However, neighbours and locals are talking about the incredible growing season and I am watching so many differences, not sure whether to attribute it all to the different weather patterns and perhaps climate change, or the pandemic and the changes it has brought about. There is a vast amount of growth and in this picture you see our old apple tree out back has provided a bumper crop this year. The grass under the tree has been tramped down by deer, I think and perhaps coyotes. And I have been paying regular visits and eating the apples then and there as I pick them. Back home, as a kid, we were never great at growing anything to eat, other than our crab apple tree –– it was too shady, the soil too compact –– so anything you can pull off of a bush, a tree or out of the ground and munch on is pretty miraculous to me.
You can’t really think about our rich growing season without thinking of others who are not enjoying the same good fortune. Land is burning up. People are on the move, whether climate or political refugees. They aren’t picking apples off of trees. They might be hoping a care package falls from the sky and will be enormously grateful for the offerings. Nowadays it is all too easy to switch the channel, turn down the volume or put our hands over our ears and worry about when we can next sit on an outdoor patio at a local café and ‘enjoy life’. I feel powerless in the face of these huge stories. It is all too easy to forget there is a segment of our own population between the apple tree and the news on the television that is very much in need. Those who can’t afford housing and those who have no access to clean drinking water, simple respect or equality. With the approaching election there will be a tsunami of promises, which, like a character in Peter and the Wolf I am now becoming immune –– bad choice of word –– desensitized to.
And I have started to wonder what a normal day on this planet is supposed look like.