At this time of year my mind goes into reverse to a couple of years ago when I had a conversation on a bus. Funny how you can meet people just once, especially on public transport and have a conversation that stays with you. This one always will. During late 2012-13 we had a very harsh long winter and it looked like Spring had indeed ridden off forever into some other galactical sunset. We were so pleasantly surprised to have a late but beautful summer although the randomness did play havoc with a lot of species so it was not good news for them. However, I have good memories of the warm/hot weather this year and as the Dark Lord gradually draws his cloak over and creates the illusion of stealing our daylight, I am looking forward to next year’s sun. In the meantime, there is coziness, inner workings, resting and planning to focus on. But as we reach this point of the turning of the wheel of the year I will always revisit this random encounter and conversation on a bus from October 2011
Originally published in Gaian Times at http://www.gaiantimes.co.uk/
My neighbour and I were discussing pruning the garden a bit one day in October. But then we decided to leave it until the end of February because one of my plants gets covered in berries and for the past couple of years it has provided food for some wood pigeons, a blackbird and a robin. As there is a possibility of a harsh winter we agreed to keep the food source for them. Then we started to talk about climate change and how it is affecting nature. I said I would love to ponder this more with him but I had to dash off as I needed to travel to Kent to visit my mother in hospital. So I went off with thoughts of climate changes and wondering how bird life, food supplies etc will be affected.
I sat on the only available seat to take me to the underground still contemplating and then a voice asked me if I could possibly change a £10 note. It was the lady sitting next to me. She needed change for the bus driver. I gave her the change and then we started talking idly and typically British, the weather came up as a topic. I told her about my neighbour and I deciding to keep the bush with the berries unchecked for the winter as it was visited by the birds for the past two years. She nodded and then I started musing about climate change and how I was wondering what was going to happen and how it would affect nature.
“Well I can tell you what I know” she said “It makes a change to bump into someone who opens a conversation about my passion” It turned out that she is a research scientist into climate change. She writes for a scientific magazine. “You are quite right to expect the birds to remember your plant as a food source because he animal and bird kingdom live by patterns and predictability but they are going to have to adapt to things becoming less patterned and predictable”
She then explained that research has shown that climate change is happening at a very fast rate, much faster than the public realise and that associated changes are much more wide ranging than we envisage.” It’s critical” she said. “We are approaching a stage which scientists are calling “the tip over” When we hit that the balance and pattern of nature will change and we can never go backwards” She continued that patterns in all of nature’s species will change as they have to adapt to an extremely significant shift. Indicators are revealing that we will only have two seasons in the future, Winter and Summer. Spring and Autumn will vanish from the cycle. Winter will be very wet and then we will launch straight into the heat of Summer. Every species will have to adapt to this.
She added that she has been studying gases in the atmosphere and that a recent alarming discovery has been that the algae in reservoirs is producing methane gas and that this is a significant factor. There is going to be a shortage of water. It is not too far in the future. In fact it is far closer than is widely known.
I asked her what can be done, if anything to prevent us reaching the “tip over” She looked sad and said that everyone needs to abide by the Kyoto Agreement and everyone needs to commit wholeheartedly. She highlighted countries that are recently industrialising and developing at a rapid rate. They are creating so many gases and pushing us all towards the “tip over”. They know that this is the case but they are not listening but are saying that it is their turn to develop now, like Western countries did and they do not want to stop. Why should they? They have modelled themselves on us. We had our day. Now it is their turn and they are going for it come hell or high water.
We reached our destination and bade each other good luck and farewell. I was stunned that I had met her at the exact time that I was asking myself what would happen with climate change. The sneak preview that she gave me saddened me to the core.
Two big things I have taken for granted, taken as permanent fixtures are becoming extinct. Two big guns Spring and Autumn. Spring with its freshness, the lily white bouncing lambs, the excited flight and chattering of birds, the smells, the calls, the spring in our step, the promise of warmth, the gradual peeling off of layers and slow gentle revelation of shoots and pregnant buds.Autumn with its array of warm fireside invoking colours, the shuffle and crackle of our feet creating a path through the leaves. The time when trees gently surrender their finery, de-layering as we gradually re-layer as our hearts and thoughts turn to time at home snuggling up with ideas and family.
Can you imagine life without these seasons? Did you ever imagine that they would cease to be?
We know this is happening. We have been witnessing and commenting on the unusual weather that we have experienced but we have been thinking it is just a fluke.
Take nothing for granted.
When you step out into Autumn, look around you. Absorb into your memory and take photographs of the shades of leaves, inhale deeply and drink in the smells so that you can recall them.
Welcome and embrace the Spring like an old friend when it appears and tell it that although you have taken it for granted and you might not have spent as much time walking in it and marvelling at its beautiful exhibits as you could have done, you have always loved it and looked forward to it and you would be devastated if it never returned.
When you walk across a field or through the woods or just step out into your garden or street and see birds, other wild animals or even insects, spare them a thought. Be humble and empathise with them even for a minute and apologise for what they will face in the future. They won’t spit on the ground as we pass by or name and shame us as a species for being the enemy within. They will just adapt, sink or swim, as a species or develop new ways if interspecies cooperation. We can learn a lot from nature. But we should not have taken it for granted.
“Mother Nature Forgive us. For, we knew not what we were doing.”