A little reminder from Mother Nature

From what I understand, there was snow in the Adirondacks of New York Sunday morning.  We had to bring in one of the flowering plants that our friends brought from NC Saturday night, since if we left it out, it might not have survived by the morning.  Apparently Bougainvilleas don’t really like temperatures that are in the 30s.  I can appreciate that, since I wasn’t really pleased with the fact that it was in the 40s as I went to work yesterday.

hot-coldFor all the advances we’ve made as a species, there are still some things that we have to either take for granted, or plan ahead for, as much as possible.  The weather is most definitely one of these.  If I were to extend the analogy, I would include changes in the climate, both long and short-term.  The weather that we experience today is not a lot different from what I remember as a child in the 1970s and 80s, but it is somewhat different.  Back then one didn’t hear too much about skin cancer, melanoma, or what would happen to your skin if you spent too much time getting a tan ‘the natural way’ (there were very few, if any tanning beds back then).  Millions of people would flock to the beaches every summer, lay out on their blankets in the sun and get nicely brown without a thought of what might happen 20-30 years down the road.  It just wasn’t a concern of theirs, or mine for that matter.  Sunscreen wasn’t a thing, really, no one had heard or made mention of a cancer of the skin that could eventually kill you if left unchecked.  Certainly I don’t ever recall hearing about aerosols that were depleting the ozone layer of the earth.  All of that didn’t come into the news until I was in high school or in college.  But then again, when I was a child, it would have been in the news for my parents to read, or adhere to.  You don’t see many 4th graders reading the New York Times.

Science Fiction shows like Star Trek, or futuristic movies have often made mention of ‘weather control devices’ that either orbit the planet or somehow put reins on Mother Nature, telling it when to rain, when not to have a hurricane or tornado or some such thing.  While it might be nice to have rain be predictable, I think in the end we’d be having a great effect on how weather works all over, since how the winds blow effect more than just our general area.  I remember reading about ‘cloud seeding’ and how that might make it rain with greater intensity in certain areas that have been arid for decades, but in order to seed clouds, you must have them first.  I don’t think anyone has figured out how to ‘create’ clouds, at least ones large enough to make it rain over an area significant enough to matter.  Too, if you make it rain, you also have to make it stop.  I can easily see someone doing the former, but not thinking out the latter, and then putting it into motion.  That’s the stuff of man-made disaster tropes.

It’s cold this morning, so I’m putting an extra layer on.  At least until Wednesday when it’s supposed to warm up.

 

Invasive Species

We’ve lived in this neighborhood for the past 19 years.  When we first moved in, we’d not yet purchased the house, it was a ‘way-station’ (or so we thought) because our previous rental house had been sold out from under us.  Consequently we needed to find a new place to live fairly quickly, and pickings in our area were rather slim.  As it happened, we looked a bit on our own for an apartment, but quickly discovered that any apartment that we thought about renting was going to be too small for our needs.  Between my wife and myself we have a LOT of stuff, so it’s always been better to either rent or buy a house to live in (though for the early years of our marriage, we rented houses exclusively).

My wife hit on the idea of contacting real estate agencies and telling them that we weren’t looking to purchase a property, that we were looking for one to rent, or maybe even rent to own (rent the property for a time, allow it to be shown when needed, and maybe over time purchase it ourselves if it continued to appeal to us).  We found one nearby that was receptive to the idea (most weren’t) and had the agent looking locally for one that fit the bill.  We got a call from her about a week later, and she showed us a 2-story federal architecture house that was built in the late 1830s.  It had a very small piece of property (0.17 A/0.068 ha) but it was in a nice neighborhood.  After looking over the house from top to bottom (didn’t take long) we walked the grounds a bit and noticed an overgrowth in the backyard that was seriously almost taking over completely one corner of what might have been a flower bed at one point.  I asked the realtor if she knew the species, but she didn’t.  The homeowners didn’t live in the area, they were semi-retired and living in Tennessee in one of their other two homes.  I then asked the realtor if we rented the property, would the homeowners mind if we did some landscaping on our own, and she said that she would ask.  We didn’t make a decision at that point, but soon after we did, and ended up renting the property (the realtor had come back with an answer on landscaping, and the response was yes, provided we didn’t do anything major like cutting down trees)

We decided to rent it, since it was the best of the bunch of the rentals we’d either found ourselves or the agent had brought us to.  We moved in November of 2000 and in the spring set to work on getting some control of the land and the respective gardens.  The species that had concerned me the previous fall looked like bamboo, and after a little investigation, it turned out the owner of the property had planted something called ‘japanese knotweed’ and it’s considered an invasive species.  Over the last nearly 20 years, we’ve been trying to get rid of this menace.  The major problem is, while I’m seriously attempting to get rid of the knotweed on my side of the fence, of my two neighbors, one is doing nothing but letting it grow, (and renting the property to people who don’t do anything with it) and the other one is cultivating his, because it grows to 8-10 feet tall by late summer and makes a nice visual blocking agent between my property and his.  When he moved in, I called over the fence and mentioned to him about the stuff and what it was, that it wasn’t a good idea to let it grow unattended and I thought he listened to me, but apparently he didn’t care or figured it was ok to allow it to flourish.

Consequently, every spring I end up with shoots that are coming through the ground in the one corner of the property, and a forest of old growth on the property line nearby that I can’t do anything with.  So as not to kill everything in the former bed we’ve been using natural remedies rather than something like Roundup™,  which the jury is still out whether or not it’s a carcinogen.  Better safe than sorry in the long run, we’re thinking.

Even so, unless we can get the neighbors on board, it’s a losing battle.  If I eventually succeeded in getting rid of it on my side of the fence, the fact that it’s growing unabated on the other two sides, means that there’s still a root forest under the ground that’s waiting to come up on my side.  So, the battle continues.  I’m fairly convinced by the time we move on, it’ll still be here.

Can’t quite let go of home

I grew up in the Hudson Valley of New York State.  As of this August however, I will have lived here almost the same amount of time that I spent where I grew up.  One would think that could equate in one’s mind where home is.  But it doesn’t.  The old adage goes ‘home is where you hang your hat’ and to a certain extent that’s true.

If one were to walk through my house here, there’s more things that scream ‘Hudson Valley’ than say ‘Finger Lakes’.  Above the couch in the den there’s a map of the town I grew up, circa 1781.  In the addition here, there’s a clock that says “(Town Name) Beer and Ale‘ that I got from eBay.  And so on.  Items all over my current life that harken back to where I came from, not where I currently live.  As infrequently as I go to Facebook, one of the groups that I check in with more often than not is the one where people who I went to school with, played golf with, and did a myriad of other things people do in their hometown congregate.  Marvel at the newest iteration in the town, or mourn with others when the obituary references are posted of people that either I knew, or my parents did (lately some of my mother’s ‘cronies’ have appeared, like Mrs. Kane who died earlier this year).

When I visited my birth mother two years ago, we spent more time in my comfort zone than in hers.  Considering that we’d been separated by 50 years (I was adopted 3 days after being born), she wanted to see where I grew up, where I went to school and so on.  I showed her the house where I lived for 27 years, now owned by someone else.  We weren’t permitted to go into the house as the owner was elderly and didn’t feel comfortable opening the house to someone he didn’t know.  Which I understand, it was a longshot at best but I would have liked to show my mother all the little quirks of the house as I remembered them.  It’s the historian in me that laments the loss of what could have been, but I’m grateful at least they allowed us to walk the grounds of the house, so I could soak it all in again.  Over the years when in the area I’ve driven past the property, but this was the first time since 1992 that I was able to actually walk the property.

As I get older, I think of what I’m going to be eventually leaving behind.  If someone were to write a history of my life, what would they dig up and post for someone (anyone) to read or care about?  Would they say that I’m a child of the Hudson Valley, or a resident of the Finger Lakes?  On occasion, when vacationing elsewhere, I’ve thought about moving to that area, but never pulled the trigger to do so.  The last time this happened was when I was visiting someone in Colorado Springs in 1990.  I spent a week in Colorado, had a wonderful time and while sitting in a cafe downtown, I seriously thought about moving there.  What stopped me was the consideration that, after six months there (or less) I would imagine the ‘newness’ of being there would wear off.   I’d be going to my job every day, and living my life, and it would become ‘normal’.  It would no longer be new or exciting.  So I might have been better off staying where I was.  As it turned out, that was probably the best choice, as the person I was visiting and I failed to keep that connection and we went out separate ways six months down the road.  But again, it was a ‘what might have been’ moment.

I’m a child of the Hudson Valley, yes.  But a resident of the Finger Lakes.  Just have to marry the two somehow, I suppose.  At least until I move somewhere else.  Then the process will begin again.