The new year has been brought in by some interesting weather to say the least. Many of the colder days have been a bit rainy and overcast. We have had periods of freezing weather followed by sunny, warmer days off and on. February contained about 10 beautiful days in a row. The temperature was between 60 and 80 degrees for a while. Most recently there was a cold front on Wednesday and Thursday. It got down into the low 30’s. Yesterday I had to scrape ice off of my windshield at 8:30 AM because it had not melted yet; however, the last day of this month was just beautiful. I have had to turn on the heat at night 5 times this month, but also found myself opening the windows for cool air on other nights. The weather cannot seem to make up its mind.
I was on reddit yesterday and the front page had an article about how global warming is man made. This has certainly been on my mind this month during the crazy weather.
Aldo Leopold said, “Civilization has so cluttered this elemental man-earth relationship with gadgets and middlemen that awareness of it is growing dim. We fancy that industry supports us, forgetting what supports industry.” This quote came to mind as I observed the the park at Zilker Elementary this evening.
I noticed some things that illustrated our current relationship with nature in urban areas and in general. First of all, I could not sit in the park for more than 20 minutes without seeing 3 airplanes and an extremely loud helicopter go by overhead. Air planes dump tons of fuel straight into the atmosphere. If you live within 20 miles of an airport, you are likely breathing in tons of carcinogens just pouring down from the sky. Not only was the noise of these air craft disturbing as I tried to count different bird calls, It reminded me that it is hard to escape from our influence on this planet. On the other hand, there were solar panels fenced off at the edge of the playground. I don’t know what they power, but seeing that illustrated some level of awareness that the school had about the environment and about our resources. The panels are evidence of our growing consciousness about environmental issues, such as the ones that Aldo Leopold points out.
Clearly, more natural environments are extremely important to us as humans. The parkwas packed with people, and I counted 7 dogs. I heard birds chirping constantly and identified at least 6 different bird songs. As I sat on the bench three small spiders landed on me, and I had to shoo them away. There were also a few ants crawling around near the bench legs.
From where I sat I noticed a few tree stumps. Many of the plants were extremely manipulated. For example, some trees had been cut down, some trees had been planted recently, and the grass was obviously cut on occasion. Many of the trees looked like you would expect them to in winter months. They were missing a lot of leaves. The grass, on the other hand seemed very healthy and happy. We have had some rain and shade this month for the grass to grow easily without dying. The sky was completely clear and the sun began to set around 5:45 PM. There were cool breezes one after the other throughout the entire time I sat at the park. This was one of the most beautiful days I have seen in a while.
If I were a plant or a wild animal, I don’t know what I would be thinking this winter. I could hardly dress myself appropriately in the morning, not knowing what the weather would be like. My apartment was constantly super cold, or too hot by the time I got home from school. I am certainly looking forward to more stable weather, but is there any in store?