The first victim of spring, a Dark-eyed Junco. Dead, on a sidewalk of New York.
Image © Valerie Druguet




Chapter 2: BEGINNINGS, (RE)ITERATED

Tuesday, March 21.
I think today may have more to do with the Equinox than with Spring. For one, last week's warm weather bubble burst like something out of Wall street and today's crispy outdoor ether reads 15 degrees wind-chill. Coldsnap ! Nevertheless, we are still plodding through space (as a planet, as a people, as a City), and the moon at least is still with us. Today will last exactly 12 hours, as with every equinox - and the man on the moon says whatever lively chaos and turmoil might wreck our terrestrial planes, the sky will continue to do its thing; up in the cosmos satellites simmer radiantly in the sunlight, they orbit with elliptical consistency. Around and around. Call it determination, gravity, maybe it's faith.


Idem the flowers on the ground (Central Park), the birds in song (everywhere), the trees in bloom (Callery Pears, 8th avenue and 25th, or try Park Ave), the midges over pond and lake (Prospect park, seen Sunday, snapped up by inbound Phoebes and Pine Warblers). Yes, it is cold out and yet all these plants and animals they're still popping, still coming, still exploding, straight up and full speed ahead into the future. Hey, my buddy Cal even saw a hyper early, record-breaking Louisiana Waterthrush, spotted and photographed in Central Park. This bird over-winters in the Caribbean and breeds in North America near ravines with gushing streams.

Back to my main point. Resilience. Summer is nigh and everything seems to know it, regardless of the cold snap, the lull, the drag, the snow that might return. Regardless what 9 million muffled men and women in coats do or say. This is spring. And on this frigid first day of 'official' spring, March 21st, a Red-winged Blackbird flies by my window (20th floor) on its way up 7th avenue, uptown, up north. Winging its way into the breeding season, regardless. Such confidence.

Plants and animals, they can read the earth and the passing of time in the stars above them. Me, I've got weather.com, and I check it compulsively. I can't control the weather so I obsess. I stress. I waste my time. The birds and the bees they just go on. Call it omniscience, or just plain old stubborn - is nature a donkey ? My inner pagan seems to think so. Today the universe looks like its got something I don't have. And I'm jealous.

Which reminds me. Global Warming. Let me tell you the truth about Global Warming. The problem is with the name, global…warming. When we hear the words 'global' and 'warming', well I guess you assume this means the globe will just get warmer, globally. True, but not so fast. I have spoken with two colleagues, they're the NYC specialists, Bill Solecki and Cynthia Rosenzweig. Here's the idea, in my words, not in theirs. The gist is the same: fasten your seat-belts. Of course, the mean temperature of the planet will rise, on average, over time. Maybe slowly, probably not that slowly. Ice caps will melt, ocean levels will rise, millions if not billions of people will either be displaced, die or go to war over dwindling resources. In the meantime, the climate is about to take us for a zinger of a spin, here in NYC even, a giant roller coaster ride, in my imagination something like the wormhole in contact - without Jody Foster and the raunchy ending. And far more riveting than the old Cyclone at Coney. No this is serious and it is for real. Warm spells will get hotter (they already are), draughts drier (idem), rains will get wetter (etc), snow falls snowier, cold snaps snappier. Some days the earth will look like a bat out of hell. Hurricanes will rise in frequency and intensity.

All of this is already happening to the global climate system and it is called turbulence, turmoil, variations in amplitude. These variations will continue to increase. Cold will mean colder, hot will be hotter and well, although the mean average year round temperature might wind up looking the same, it will be slowly increasing, too.
Storm surges ? They will get higher. Waves too, will increase in amplitude. And NYC in all of this ? The waves will break, into the harbor, past the Verrazzano, over the broad in the bay, the green one, so goodbye Lincoln tunnel. Goodbye Holland. Canal street will again be a Canal. You can watch it all coming in real time. Start saving, too: all of this flooding and repair will be paid for with your tax dollars.

You see, up above in the cosmos satellites simmer radiantly in the sunlight, they orbit with elliptical consistency. Whatever lively chaos and turmoil might wreck our terrestrial planes, the sky will continue to do its thing. Global warming is affecting the migration of birds, positively for some, negatively for others. It will soon kill millions of species. Ours could be one. Others will appear. And at the end of the day, Daddy Catastrophe will show up and lead this planet into new creativity, new realms. Daddy catastrophe and Mother Earth have been at it before. For 4 and half billion years, to be precise. From sudden death (asteroids, mega volcanoes, Homo sapiens…) comes new life. From violence and extinction, rebirth. Death and Life, they're stuck together like proton and neutron. Go together like sperm and egg. They, more than any partner in history, have been leading the dance, and made this stinking existence of ours so very possible. So very real. Don't believe me ? Good science corroborates my shtick. Just sit down with your kids and watch 'Miracle Planet'. (Plenty of cool talking heads and this time, Noam Chomsky is actually allowed to speak).

Native Americans too, understood the process of earthly catharsis, long ago; they saw it in Coyote, the 'evil' one through whom 'good' things come. They understood creation, rightly so, as an ongoing process. But then again so did Stanley Kubrick.

Me, I'm stubborn and I'm going to stick with my inner donkey, at least for today. Because yesterday my wife Val and I were returning from a day in the field. We passed by Morgan Mail Facility, on 8th avenue and 28th street. On the hard pavement there were two dead juncos. Migrating juncos. Heading north, through spring, into summer…no such luck. Their bodies were locked frozen, contorted, something like the guys smoked at Pompeii. They had flown into the looming glass panels of the infamous facility but to birds these pseudo windows look like transparent continuums of the world around them. In the glass the juncos saw the reflections of trees. The promises of new branches. Broken promises: they did not see the glass. They flew right into it. Broken beaks, broken skulls, smashed brains, ripped tissue, multiple lesions, internal hemorrhaging. Broken spring. 100 million birds die this way every year in North America alone. They die pathetically because of windows erected in their way. Because of glass (Glass can cut, slice a life in half). They die because of our shades, our glitz, our cool. Ultimately, because of who we are. "Moloch!, whose eyes are a thousand blind windows".
In old Mannahatta, the 'island of many hills', legend has it that in the end, there will be nothing but darkness. And in the darkness will echo the call of the coyote.

See you next week
Dave Rosane

P.S.: The coyote quote is an actual legend. And btw, there already are coyote in NYC - they raise their pups on golf courses, in the Bronx.

 




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