June 13, 2010
They say it’s been a wet spring in Michigan. According to the Charlotte Observer a wet spring means more snakes. That does kind of match my mood. I’m of a mind to see snakes everywhere: in the pool, in the bathtub, and especially on all those planes I’ve been riding for the last twelve weeks. Since March 15 I’ve been to State College, PA, South Bend, Nashville and Bloomington, IN (three separate trips), Washington DC (also three times), Rome, Italy, Phoenix, AZ, Minneapolis, MN, Chicago, IL, Amsterdam (twice), Madrid and Cadiz, Spain and I’m just now back from Beaver Dam, WI. Not all of those were plane trips. Today I was on a boat. But I’m sure there were snakes on there, somewhere. I’m just glad I didn’t see any. Right now I’m ready to curl up by the fire and enjoy Michigan for a while. At least a couple of weeks.
Wait a minute! What am I saying? Curl up by the fire? It’s the middle of June already! As they say on TV, “WHASUP?”
Which brings me back to the subject of this blog. This is, I’m told, another El Niño year. If you’re like me, a decade or so back you thought El Niño was the children’s special at La Fogata: a bean and cheese taco with applesauce. Noo. El Niño is a periodic warming the Pacific Ocean that is generally noticed around Christmas time (hence the name). Some say that El Niños are increasing because of climate change, but while I’m no climate skeptic I have absolutely no desire to wade into even more snakes than I am already dealing with here. So suffice it to say that the science lesson ends here. El Niños often bring colder and wetter weather in spring. Actually the spring here in Michigan has not been cold. In fact it’s been warmer than usual, at least until recently. As of eight minutes ago, it was 73° in Lansing, which is about normal this year. The point, if I can ever get around to it, is that it’s wet out there.
How wet is it? As wet as a weekend in Wigan, I’d say.
Actually, as far as I know it’s not all that wet on weekends in Wigan, though they say that a wet weekend in Wigan is the gold standard for boredom. I worry what Baba Wawa would wonder when wet weekends in Wigan woom woozily on Wednesday. But I digress.
It’s the farmers who are telling me that it’s been a wet spring in Michigan, and they should know. Apparently, it’s been so wet that lots of local farmers lost their Memorial Day weekend because it was the only time that it was dry enough to plant. Some whose plans prevented them from working may lose a significant percentage of this year’s crop. And this is worth taking a minute to ponder for those of us in CSAs. I don’t honestly think I could farm seriously. I could say that I’m not cut out for it, but a better way of saying it is that I am, at my age, habituated to a pattern of living that is incompatible with the “make hay when the sun shines” mentality that is absolutely necessary for successful farming. I like my morning coffee and my weekends off. Of course I don’t get as many weekends off as I would like. It’s all those snakes on the plane, in my case. But readers get my point I think. Farmers have slow periods, but they can’t really schedule them, and when a dry weekend in a wet spring comes along, then it’s just tough luck for the barbecue, the softball game, the bike ride or even the long pot of coffee while you kick back and read. I’m grateful that they are out there planting, and I know that shifting to that kind of thinking would take a major shift in my pattern of behavior.
Paul B. Thompson holds the W.K. Kellogg Chair in Agricultural, Food and Community Ethics