Saturday, February 22, 2014

Not with a Bang but a Shiver

The irregular circumstances alluded to last post are under excellent control.  Well wishers and those who have addressed prayers to various points of the Celestial Planes, thank you all.

At this point the biggest inconvenience for me personally is being in sole charge of the Villa for a while. It does not require the constant labor that it did before the filli moved out, but there are lots of things to keep up on.

Last night it snowed.  With emphasis.  Heavy, wet stuff at about an inch an hour.  I was chatting on the phone with my brother, watching the flakes pound down and bewailing the predicted sub-zero stretch that will follow next week.

He and I have shared some fun weeks digging Roman sites, so my musings were running in that direction.  I was talking about how civilizations really fall, what triggers the final collapse of things that have been limping along.  You see this in Roman Britain. One year folks are managing.  Maybe they are a little less prosperous.  Maybe the best applicant for village constable is that hulking Goth lad who married the merchant's daughter last year.  You remember, at the bachelor party his pals burned the wine shop so all we have to drink now is weak local beer?

And then it happens.  Archaeologists centuries later find a thick layer of dark fill indicating that the drains went uncleaned and sewage flooded the streets.  Real building activity stops and repair work is done by half wits who slop things together and figure that if the wind comes through gaps in the walls it must be how Wotan wants things.

I was making this point, and comparing it to the late winter funk that lies heavy on my area.  Municipal budgets are tight.  There are shortages of sand and salt.  On a civic level and even as individual property owners it is tempting to just let the snow sit there until Wotan decides to melt it.  It is a seductive notion, and one that must be resisted.

And as I was saying these words there were a series of bright flashes in the sky and the power went off all over town.

Lightning?  Desperate squirrels crawling into transformers for a millisecond of warmth before being vaporized?  UFOs?  Wotan? Not sure.

So I got an evening of the Dark Ages.  You light a few candles.  Read by flashlight for a while.  Sip a beer sitting on the sofa in a dimly lit room.  Man, The Darks must have been boring.

Many of my Progressive friends get very exercised about Global Warming, now officially re-flagged as Climate Change.  Hey, I agree with them on various levels.  I have seen places where glaciers are in retreat.  I concur that human activity "warms the room". But as I shiver my slow path around the perimeter of the Villa, plowing down to honest cement sidewalks (and helping a fallen old lady to boot!), I have to wonder if the Science is yet rock solid on questions of magnitude, and time frame, and what the heck we can effectively do about it.

In some circles this would make me a Denier, but I honestly consider myself more a Thinker on the subject.

Yes, Climate Change kills.  Droughts and tsunamis and volcanic eruptions and what not.  But lets not forget 406 AD.

What, you have forgotten?

That was the year it got so cold that supposedly the Rhine river froze solid and the barbarians just walked across it.

Maybe Rod Serling, Progressive icon and genuine genius, got it right back in 1961.  The Midnight Sun was a Season Three episode of the Twilight Zone that spent most of the show chronicling the slowly decaying lives of a handful of survivors on an Earth that had moved too close to the Sun.  Of course Rod would always throw in the twist.  The sweating, frantic woman who faints awakens to soothing coolness.  It was all a dream, brought on by a raging fever.  But she was better now, she would survive the illness.  Only to die soon as the Earth had drifted too far from the Sun and a handful of survivors were huddled together in a freezing world, snow pounding down heavily outside their windows.

And for the record, the shocking thermometer reading in the final scene was -10 F.

Sheesh, around here that has qualified as a warm snap once or twice this winter.

1 comment:

Ken said...

I was pleased to read Breem's Eagle in the Snow a couple of years ago. Good novel, and your point is well taken. It's a complex subject, and the confluence -- if that's the term -- of the Dark Ages, the Plague, the Medieval Warm Period, the Renaissance, the Little Ice Age, etc. don't really admit of pat answers, but they do bear thinking about.