During this past winter, such as it was, I wrote this:
Night after night, the fog has descended over Ann Arbor. House by house, my block disappears. Droplets of water cling to cars, jackets, my skin. This is not winter weather, yet it is this winter’s weather, driven by warm, wet air, El Niño air, its grey moisture sucked into materiality by the chill of the ground. It snowed a few weeks ago. The flakes were heavy, fluffy, paradigmatic. My daughter made a giant snowman. My son wrestled in the snow with his friends. And then the weather warmed, and it was gone. None has fallen since.
Many people that I’ve spoken to around town have remarked favorably on the mild weather. “After the past two winters, we’ve earned this,” they say. Yet there is anxiety in their voices. Maybe there is even dread. This weather feels wrong, heavy not just with moisture but also with reminders of climate change, environmental degradation, accelerating extinction. It is confusing weather. It feels important and dangerous. It speaks to our times.
I returned to the draft and read it in the midst of this droughty summer. The other day, rain finally came, but only for a short time, and then the heat returned. Clouds without promise hover in the withholding sky. The air is close and thick. People talk about the drought in anxious voices. The weather is not so confusing as it was over the winter, but it feels no less important and dangerous, and it most certainly speaks to our times. Hot times. Violent times. Racist and xenophobic times. Times that teeter between progress and regress.
We are living in a tinderbox of our own making.