I went to lunch with a few scientists.
We talked about the weather.
“I am scared,” one of them said. “I don’t think we’ll have much snow in Utah anymore. This warm winter is probably the norm here on out. And if we don’t have wet summers we won’t have any water at all.”
And the visitor from Germany spoke up, “We didn’t get snow this year, but we did get wild flowers.”
“The ski resorts should be the most concerned, they’re looking at extinction,” someone said.
I closed the lid on my salad.
I’ve heard meteorologists say “We’ve got a problem,” like a plea to stay tuned until the next commercial break.
I’ve never heard it from a scientist before.
Not like this.
A few days later I stumble on an article about the southwest entering into a thirty to thirty-five year megadrought. Worse than the dust bowl, they say. Much, much worse.
Suddenly water is like gold to me.
I see how much I waste.
I’ve never taught my children to value water.
I’ve never valued water.
All of my Mormon life I’ve been taught to prepare for a disaster to happen.
In the basement below the stairs we had bags of wheat and cans of beans stored away for the day.
As a young bride I started to keep jugs of water in the laundry room–a slight pinch of bleach.
As new home owners we were given colored flags to display in front of our house when the calamity happened–green meant we were fine, blue meant we were hungry, white meant we had a death.
But we talked about it like this disaster would happen at any given moment, like a sudden earthquake or terrible mud-slide. It would separate those who were obedient from those who were not.
I didn’t want to be draining the resources of others.
No one wants to be that family in catastrophe.
It’s going to be a megadrought.
And we’re bringing it on ourselves.
And I’m scared too.
Today I put my baby’s toes in the sun.
She won’t keep anything on her feet.
We perched her on the blanket I made when I was twelve.
It was for a church activity aimed at teaching the young women how to make provisions.
(For the calamity.)
The sun was setting soon and we just wanted to lap up a little of it before it disappeared.
And I noticed how much my relationship with the sun is changing too.
The blanket fills up child by child until the whole family is on the blanket wrestling around in the dying sun.
Anson’s kindergarten class had a snow day activity this year.
But it was rushed because they didn’t know how long we would have snow on the ground.
“Aiden didn’t get to have a snow day when he was in kindergarten,” my neighbor tells me about her seven year old son. “There was no snow that year.”
After the snow day activity the grass returned for good.
I can’t recall a snow-less year from my childhood.
All I see is snow in the pictures in my baby book.
I was born in a snowstorm.
My kids only used their snow clothes a couples times this winter. For almost three months they’ve sat on dry hooks next to the carport door. Their boots hardly knew the crunch of the snow and ice.
We’re on the blanket and the sun is almost gone and suddenly we’re cold.
I pick up the baby and head inside.
As I walk on the gray grass, I see a trail of little shadows behind me.
I suddenly worry about my children never knowing snow.
And I think how weird that I would even think that thought.
How odd that all those apocalyptic movies are more real than I believed.
And now I am sad too.
Christopher makes dinner.
We walk inside to a warm, steamy kitchen.
I turn on Elvis Costello and persuade him to dance with me for a moment.
We were dancing.
He was singing in my ear.
And three children were jumping all over us, while a baby bobbed up and down in her high chair.
We danced, the kitchen steamed, the baby bobbed, the kids jumped.
“We can’t reverse it,” the scientists said, “but we can become inventive. And we can stop doing so much damage.”
And it reminds me of the philosopher at church who told me this earth could be healthy if we all would share resources: food, clothing, democracy, wealth.
“Please share,” I repeat to my children over and over and over.
When the mountains glow at dusk, just before the sun melts into the lake on the west end of the valley, I tell my children to stop and notice.
All of these things are so valuable.
And the price continues to go up.
I will take care of the earth.
I will take care of my family.
It’s all the same.
It’s all the same.