Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Past Deadline: Earth to Weather Gods, Come in Please

The sun has been so sporadic that when it comes out it hurts my eyes. Hence this week's column in The Perth Courier, published July 14/09. (Today, incidentally, was a rare lovely day.)

Earth to weather gods, come in please

As I write this, we have had two sunny days in a row.

Whoa! I know! Amazing, isn’t it?

This seems to be another summer when nice, long stretches of warm, sunny weather are few and far between. On some days even when it’s nice it’s not really nice, such as last Wednesday, when it seemed as if the clouds could not bear to let us frolic in dryness for more than a millisecond. Between sheets of rain and lengthy periods of miserable drizzle we were blessed with glorious streaming sunshine – punctuated by big, wet raindrops. The only good thing about that was it led to a few rainbows, which is quite appealing to young children, particularly princesses and especially when the purple is prominent and pink clouds can be found floating nearby.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not looking for hot, humid, sweltering days – they’re just as bad as the extremes of winter as far as I’m concerned. But a little bit of sun would be nice – if not for me, then at least for my garden.

Okay. That is a selfish request. I really want cherry tomatoes. This year I deposited a lovely little cherry tomato plant near the back door. It’s close to the mint and the roses and the phlox. In theory I will be able to step outside, pluck a few cherry tomatoes as needed and throw them on a salad or on the side of a plate. My little plant has been growing like mad and is producing a goodly number of tomatoes, but they are as green as emeralds. If the sun doesn’t come and stay for a while, am I going to miss out on my cherry tomatoes? I don’t really want fried green cherry tomatoes – it’s just not the same.

And what about my poor raspberry patch? Sure, I haven’t had to water them so far this season, but they’re going to need a dose of sunshine soon so those small, hard, greenish-greyish-whitish berries will become soft, plump and ruby red.

I’ve stopped listening to the five-day and long-range forecasts by the so-called weather experts. Those folks who told me that last summer would be hot and dry have pretty much lost my confidence. It seems to me that was the prediction for this year, too.

Now we’re starting to hear that this is El Nino’s fault. You remember El Nino? That’s the periodic warming trend in the Pacific Ocean that can wreak havoc around the world? (Think Ice Storm of ’98.) Forecasters, apparently, think this El Nino will strengthen over the next few months and last through the winter. El Nino usually increases rainfall in parts of the Pacific and dries things out in others. In summer, it can mean wetter-than-normal conditions in parts of the U.S., with more hurricanes in the Pacific and fewer in the Atlantic.

In my limited research on this subject I did not come across much indicating El Nino has a specific effect on weather patterns in eastern Ontario, at least not in the summer.

So I’m starting to think this is personal. Mother Nature must be annoyed with us. But why?

Is it because we haven’t been appreciative enough of the lovely moderate weather we usually have? I mean, we generally don’t live in an area prone to hurricanes, flash floods, extended heat waves, mudslides, avalanches, crippling drought or monsoons.

Maybe Mother Nature just got bored with our mediocrity and has decided to cry on us for the rest of time. Or perhaps our area of the world is part of some sinister sociological experiment to see how long it will take to break our spirits with rain…rain!...RAIN! (Insert evil laughter.)

Maybe space aliens are messing with the jet stream to see how the Petri-dish Earthlings will react to sustained adverse conditions. (You’d think they would already have enough data on that, though, what with some of the political leadership we’ve had over the last decade.)

Maybe this is all a dream – or a nightmare – and I’m going to wake up on a sunny beach in 5…4…3…2…1….


Sigh. Better go check on my emerald tomatoes.

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