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Woster: Doesn't it seem like the wind blows more often than it used to?

I think climate change is real. I think we humans have much to do with how our climate is changing.

Terry Woster
Terry Woster

That three-day wind storm that roared in and out of here before Easter weekend picked up my heavy, glass-topped picnic table and flipped it upside down on the patio.

Big deal, you think. The wind blew things over everywhere in the state. True. It did. The thing is, though, this particular table hasn’t so much as quivered in the wind for the past couple of years. We’ve had other winds in the past two years. The table just sat there. Midway through this last wind storm I looked out and there it was, on its glass top on the rough bricks.

The table survived. It wasn’t cracked, it wasn’t bent, it wasn’t scratched. Nature can be gentle, even as it is being destructive.

I should have an old guys’ coffee group to hear my table story. I wouldn’t want that commitment. I probably wouldn’t attend often. But I needed a coffee group for this amazing table story. I told Nancy, and she said, “I saw that.’’ Old guys would have listened in wonder, raising their eyebrows and shaking their heads. They’d have said, “Well, I never,’’ and “How about that?’’ One might have said, “Doesn’t it seem like the wind blows more often than it used to?’’

Then we’d have had a discussion of great winds from the past — '97 or '86 or '62 or '51 and whether they were as frequent and as strong. We’d have told stories we’d heard from our folks about the dust storms of the ‘30s, the one that left black drifts and dunes as far as the eye could see.

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That might lead us to climate change. Some of us would be convinced that’s the culprit. Others would probably say it was worse back in the day. The owner of the coffee shop might refill our cups and mentally compare our purchases to our time spent at his table.

If the owner didn’t kick us out of the place, I might launch into a story about farming back in the 1950s and early '60s. That was a time, on our farm, at least, when we left fields fallow for a season now and then. The idea, I guess, was that the land would soak up the infrequent rains more easily if there was no vegetation on it. Weeds sucked moisture from the soil, so every time we saw a couple of sprouts in 160 acres of field, I’d be out there with a drag, turning over the topsoil.

Huge clouds of dust followed me and the tractor, which should have been a tip-off that we were taking more from the land than we were giving it. These days, many people practice no-till, which leaves more cover on the soil and makes sense to a non-farmer like me.

The thing about the land, I was reminded during a recent conversation, is that it will survive. In one form or another, the planet will survive. Given the chance, it will heal itself. Small signs of that can be seen in things like a vacant farm or a field no longer tended. A good part of our old farm, empty these many years, is returning to nature. Parts of it are barely recognizable. Some outbuildings remain, but they are slowly falling apart, returning to the land. Nature is slowly reclaiming the place where I grew up, the place where my folks worked so hard to make a life and a home.

I heard once about a sign at a railroad crossing that read something like, “The average freight train takes two minutes and 30 seconds to pass this crossing — whether you’re in it or not.’’

That’s a pretty good description of the planet we all share. I think climate change is real. I think we humans have much to do with how our climate is changing. I could be wrong, but that’s what I think based on what I’ve read and heard.

I could be wrong about this, too, although I don’t think I am. No matter how great or small our impact is on Earth and its climate, the planet will survive, whether we’re on it or not.

Related Topics: WEATHERCOMMENTARY
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