Spring this year began less as a season than as a battle of two great weather armies—let’s call them Winter and Summer for simplicity’s sake—attacking and repulsing, rallying and retaking the territory. Eventually the cold Napoleon surrendered to the warm one, but whatever happened to “April showers bring May flowers”?
This time around the showers came in May, and stayed, and the rivers rose ominously. Peterborough dodged a major flood but towns along the Ottawa River have had heavy flooding, and the military was called in to places in Quebec. Spring is clearly not working right anymore. The season has a screw loose.
This kind of extreme weather roulette is all the result of climate change, itself the result of the way we do business in the world today: digging things out of the ground to burn them to make things and then ship them far away. The climate is broken. I miss the changing seasons I remember as a kid, and I feel sick at what has changed in my lifetime.
I’m not alone, judging by the turnout at Grieving for the World, an event organized by local Leap Manifesto chapter and held at Trinity United Church on May 9.
People talked about their feelings about climate change in groups of five or so, discussing in response to prompts asking them to reflect on what made them sad and what made them hopeful. I noticed a marked tendency to confuse grief over climate change itself with frustration at the politics of the environment.
But it was a nice event. As Guy Hanchet, one of the organizers, said, “It’s like a funeral: it’s not for the person who’s died. It’s about being around other people mourning—sharing and being able to be a support for other people.”
While people talked, Wes Ryan listened and took notes, and then performed an impromptu slam piece at the end. It had a great knock knock joke (“future generations who?”), and then a joke knocking the knock knock joke, and it rhymed Nogojiwanong with “this song will echo long after I’m gone.” It was determinedly hopeful.
Then the Raging Grannies closed the night with a straight-up cover of “What a Wonderful World,” a song that always brings me back to my grandmother’s funeral in 1996, me bawling on my brother’s shoulder, wringing the terrible grief from my eyes, nose, and mouth, as Satchmo’s last hit record hissed on the church speakers.
This time I was struck by the line, “They’ll learn much more than I’ll ever know.” Here’s hoping that’s how it turns out.