Usually mid-February is a frozen wasteland. Dirty snow piles are everywhere, refrozen puddles mottle roads and parking lots. Salt spray creeps up cars. In an obscure town lot, giant mountains of white are filled with trash and decorated with cinders. Often not even a hint of brown grass peeks through crusted layers of ice on lawns. Bitter raw cold discourages even minor strolls into desolation.
This year _ not so much. It is fashionable, and probably true, to blame global warming. Almost no snow, and that melted almost immediately. Exposed grass more or less green. Roads clear. Even the skim of ice that often forms on ponds and puddles overnight has been hard to find. Rain and fog, mist and mildness and wind, and a lot more green everywhere than what used to be normal.
It seems the freeze has migrated _ metaphorically _ to politics. Rarely have I encountered people, including myself, so set in their view. Upon a time, people could at least argue. Now, it seems, we are internally opinionated statues. For this, against that, policies or people. Each of us fanatically certain and each equally certain that others are wrong. Even remedies are cast in flawed bronze _ utopian visions from Marxian dawn, or technocratic fantasies of fifties science fiction, or nostalgic senile remembrances of childhood when the world was all bright and shiny. Compromise or reevaluation taking into account the contradictory complexity of our existence is considered the worst moral turpitude.
Frozen February defeated by global warming is a harbinger. Frozen politics handled by slippery politicians is a contradiction. Lately, ignorant solipsistic leaders who casually lie tend to win. Money is hardly an issue _ like ancient Roman Consuls, each candidate knows that you cannot spend too much to win an office that will repay, legally or not, hundreds to one. A truly amoral vindictive candidate has the added bonus that almost all prudent patricians will contribute to its (sic) campaign simply for self-protection.
February is filled with local misery _ the cold, the snow, cabin fever, boring days and nights following one another in short daylight. Similarly, politics is filled with local grievances _ every citizen seemingly certain that someone else is to blame for anything that goes wrong in life, and equally certain that any other citizen deserves whatever they have got, for good or bad. What should be our happiest era filled with social harmony is rapidly devolving into pure idiotic envy based on ridiculous comparisons of perceived wealth.
Just as the big picture seems irrelevant to those dealing with immediate weather, it seems that we are all missing other big pictures. The old saying “the more things change the more they stay the same” is no longer applicable. Big changes have indeed happened, more big changes are coming, and, just like climate itself, things will never again be the same.
Although we are aware of constant variation in our situation and environment, we take an awful lot for granted. Days follow nights, air is breathable, supermarkets have food, our home will be there when we return. Sometime soon that may no longer true. A so-called “tipping point” sneaks up on us _ we are suddenly old and unable to walk easily, for example, after years of limping along more and more painfully. This February feels filled with such tipping points in nature, politics, personal life, society. I honestly do not have a clue what to expect next February, and more and more I find the only rational response is to suppress such thoughts. The future is definitely not frozen into the patterns of the past.
For now, it is rain and wind and more rain and more wind. Better than deep freeze and snow, I tell myself. But there is a little nagging worry in my soul that maybe our universes would be better off a little more solidified and frozen and “normal”, at least for a while.