Posts Tagged ‘snow’

Feeling Like Cassandra

I’ve been watching Hercules. The Kevin Sorbo one- sometimes you just need some silly in your life. It can get preachy on values and such, but sometimes it really whips out a gem. I’m not sure how intentional it was, but “Atlantis” is an amazing parallel for those of us that see our blue island in the solar system as sinking.

Bear with me here for a minute. Hercules’ ship is struck by lightening and goes down. He’s found washed up on the beach of Atlantis by a kind and, of course, beautiful woman named Cassandra. She knew he was coming because she has visions. This is also how she knows that something terrible is going to happen to Atlantis. The legendary Cassandra was actually born of Troy and was cursed by the god Apollo to be able to see the future but never be believed. There may or may not have been a broken promise on her part, but mostly it’s because she turned down his sexual advances. The parallel is close enough for the show that was using it.

This Cassandra knows she sounds crazy- and people think she’s crazy- but she also sees how the garden her father raised her in no longer produces as it should. Rather like the people that are recognizing that even with increased use of chemicals, our food yields are not rising and are, in places, falling, despite the fact that no one in a position of authority would ever admit to it. Of course, Cassandra can actually see this because she lives outside of the city. Like a crazy person.

She doesn’t live in the city because she doesn’t want to be homogenized in with the rest. She feels no need to “keep up with the Joneses” and even believes that the myths of the gods are true. (Hercules was very confused to find himself called a myth.) As someone who grew up in the country and has been forced to live in cities due to circumstances, I sympathize with her. Each life makes its own demands on a person, and you need to pick the life whose demands you can actually accept. However, most of our world, and her world, are wholeheartedly city people. At one point, she mentions that the birds are gone which is a sign that whatever will happen is imminent. How many city people would know that little fact?

The entire city is run on the power of crystals- I wonder if that’s where the cartoon Atlantis got the idea or if that’s a “known” fact by people that study Atlantis? It gives them crystal-wave ovens (and annoying salesmen to go with it) and flying machines. Even street lamps. Not at all a blatant parallel to electricity, I’m sure.

While Cassandra is given the chance to speak, along with a back-handed insult, she is cruelly rejected by everyone when she can’t produce hard facts to back up her assertion that they are in danger. The problem with climate change is that it is not really happening on a human scale. I remember the snows we had when I was a kid in Pennsylvania that they don’t have now. The difference isn’t just because I was shorter. It’s the difference between being able to sled down our hill for most of the winter or only a handful of times during the winter. Looking around at the size and severity of storms on the rise is concerning, but hard to point to as a hard fact. Memories can be wrong and Katrina, Sandy, and this late-season hail storm were flukes, not the new normal don’tcha know? I cannot say that 2014 is x degrees warmer than 2013 and 2015 will be y degrees warmer which will cause z, and you’ll see it no later than 2016. The planet works on her own schedule, and it’s not a human one. There will be ups and downs, good years and bad, but the trend is not going in a good direction if you can look past what it means to next week’s stock prices. Not to mention the fact that there is no real historical precedent for this, so it’s really hard to predict what we have no basis for.

“In Atlantas, order and progress are supreme. You might say they’re our religion.” Replace “Atlantis” with “US” and, well, you get the picture. There is a constant theme with the Atlanteans that technology will solve all of their problems and to live anywhere else is to live among savages and uncivilized people.

Another parallel is invisible slaves. No, I’m not talking about oil, though that is part of it. I’m talking about the actual humans that were hidden under Atlantis to mine their crystals and the actual humans hidden in third-world countries to make our stuff. The sailors that had been with Hercules hadn’t all died as he’d feared. They’d been collected off the beach by the king’s men and put to work in the mines so that the citizens would have no idea there were slaves on the island. Ok, so technically we have moved beyond barbaric things like slaves and colonization in these modern times, but try telling that to someone who works 10 or 12 hour days to make not quite enough to feed their family. At least when we owned slaves it was in our best interests to keep our investments alive and more or less healthy.

I was wrong about what finally does the island in. I thought it was going to be the sky-scraper proposed early on that had a remarkably familiar shape . . . It’s Hercules, so jealous gods doing a Tower of Babel on it would be pretty much par for the course. But it wasn’t. It was the very human folly of mining under more of the island than the island could support and not listening to the warning signs that the invisible slaves and Cassandra were seeing. Kind of like burning too much fossil fuel for our oceans and atmosphere to absorb and not listening to the scientists and citizens that were noticing the early warning signs like increased storm activity and increasingly acidic oceans.

The final and best, or worst depending on your view, parallel is the chaos and deaths of ordinary citizens because they trusted their king to take care of them, not realizing that their king’s interests were in keeping the status quo while Cassandra just wanted to save people. Our “king,” be it government, industry, the stock market, has a vested interest in negating the words of our Cassandras for as long as they can. Their reigns were build on the world as it was, not the world the Cassandras know will be, however imperfect their visions are. The question is, who do you trust, and will you decide before the island disappears?

Tomato Soup Base

Before the frost.

Before the frost.

Fall has arrived. It’s snowed a couple of times, and the frost has taken out 90% of what was left in the garden. Fall also means finishing the harvest and socking the last of the summer produce away in the freezer (or with another form of storage).

After the frost. Poor peppers.

After the frost. Poor peppers.

One of the first things I did was to start turning my tomatoes into soup base. It’s a recipe my mom uses as an easy way to get extra tomatoes from the vine and into the freezer with as little fuss as possible. It’s also a good way to use as many of the damaged tomatoes as you can. After all, once it’s pureed, you won’t be able to tell that half of it got cut off to remove the bad spots. Come winter, I can have nice, vine-ripened tomatoes in my soup of the day for a burst of flavor and nutrition.

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What you need are tomatoes, basil, parsley, and a food processor. Chop the tomatoes up a bit, removing any yucky bits, and fill the food processor up about half way. (I did a bit more than half because I only had enough damaged tomatoes for one round and I was planning on eating the whole tomatoes.)

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Add to that a handful of parsley and a handful of basil. My parsley was smothered by weeds, so I had to buy that, but the basil is from my garden.

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Puree it until you reach the desired consistency. Also- take time to admire the colors. In just my soup base I will have red, yellow, green, and purple. As I add other stuff to the soup, I’m just improving an already fairly spiffy nutritional profile. If you’re doing multiple batches, pour each lot into a pot before divvying it up to freeze. Mixing them together will give you more consistency in taste and texture since it’s not an exact science.

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You can store it in anything you would like for the time spent in the freezer. If you’re using glass jars, don’t forget to leave room at the top for the food to expand as it freezes. That’s also why you want the wide-mouth jars- there aren’t any shoulders for the freezing food to run into and crack.

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I picked the basil a few days before I needed it, and our kitchen was being worked on, so I stuck it in some water and left it in the bathroom. It turns out, purple basil is pretty, smells good, and matches our bathroom decor.

Thank you, Colorado

I haven’t had much to say since my last post. Shortly after I put it up, I heard on the radio that due to lack of snowpack, we would still be in drought conditions with water restrictions come summer. I think it was the next day that the clouds moved in. Since then, it’s been overcast more often than not and it kinda feels like it snowed as many days in April as it did during the rest of the winter combined. We also got an inch or two on May Day. You know, the traditional day to celebrate spring?

As inconvenient as it is to be getting our snow when I should be turning over garden beds and planting my early plants, we do need the moisture. Naturally, I forgot to save the link, but I recently came across a local seed producer that closed their doors in 2011 due to lack of water. They were a small-scale grower, and working off of a house-sized well. The note they had up indicated that while the surrounding farms could still reach water with their farm-sized wells, there just wasn’t any water left at their level. Since I came across this note in early 2013, I think it’s safe to assume that they haven’t been able to resume operation.

Well, it sucks to be them, but as long as the big farms are still getting water, we’re cool, right? Not really. According to the UN, there’s enough water for 6 billion people. Well, we overshot that one. We are also in the habit of misusing and abusing the water that we do have. There are already places that are using oil wells to drill into “fossil aquifers.” I don’t believe we’re doing this in America, yet, but we just have to look to the Middle East and Africa to see what will happen if we run out of renewable sources of water. Once the fossil water is gone, it won’t be renewed within a human time-frame, if ever.

What does this actually mean? Humans, and most plants and animals, can not live without clean, unsalted water. That means that we need to figure out how to keep what we have and maybe how to make more. There are lots of ideas out there, and I am sure I’ll be looking into many of them more in-depth because water is such a big deal in the West. The idea for the moment, though, is to encourage water that falls in your yard to soak into the ground, instead of running off the surface. Dig holes, plant grass, plant trees. Anything to make the water stop long enough to soak in. If enough of us do this, we can affect the groundwater levels in a positive way, instead of a negative one.

The snow is nice, but it would be so much nicer against a properly blue sky.

The snow is nice, but it would be so much nicer against a properly blue sky.

Early Spring Weather

Weather has been pretty warm and dry across most of the country this spring. In some places, that’s not such a bad thing. It means that people can get their gardens turned and started a little earlier than usual. Around here, though, it’s not such a good thing.

On the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains, we get most of our moisture in the winter and in the form of snow. March is generally the month with the most snow. I heard somewhere that we should get about 20% of our snow in March. According to this site, the average snowfall is 8.1″ for Colorado Springs. That doesn’t sound like much, until you see 4.9″ each for February and April. This year, according to this site, we have had less than an inch in March. The lack of snowfall combined with temperatures that were frequently in the 60s and 70s instead of the 50s that were the historical average, means that we were losing snow this March instead of building it.

I am new to this area, and maybe if I were familiar with a typical March, I might be more appreciative of the “early spring” that so many people are enjoying. I am also enjoying it. It’s nice to be able to start my tan this early to banish the winter pallor. However, if it is this warm this early, what is this summer going to look like? With as dry as it has been, we have already had one wildfire this year. This doesn’t bode well for what is going to happen during the more typical wildfire season around here.

The drama of fires aside, the loss of snow means that there will be less snow melting this spring to provide the moisture needed to germinate seeds and bring annuals out of dormancy. Less water coming from the mountains means less water for our consumption. On the frivolous side, that means that Kentucky Bluegrass lawns may not be getting the water they need to exist in their lush glory. On a more practical side, watering bans I believe also include vegetable gardens. Most people grow vegetables that are from Europe and the east. That means that they need far more water than natives in order to produce the food we’re looking for.

April came in like a lion. Sunday was 80 degrees. Monday topped out at about 45 with the clouds rolling in to cover the sky from horizon to horizon. Tuesday was even cooler with snow falling for most of the day. It’s warming up again, and most of the snow in the city is gone now. It doesn’t tend to stick around very long. However, it’s comforting to me to see Pike’s Peak resuming its (his?) white mantle for at least a little longer this season. A little moisture in reserve for later.

Colorado Weather

I am working on a proper post, but I thought I’d add a note about Colorado weather. It cracks me up.

Blue sky and clouds

As I was dashing out for lunch today, I was entertained by the fact that it was doing that thing it does. Directly above me was a bright, hard blue with the intense sun shining through. In every direction were clouds, many of them low enough to obscure the mountain tops. Out of this bright blue sky, there were still flakes of snow falling. This, I’ve discovered in the months I’ve been living here, is pretty normal. My general understanding is also that Colorado Springs happens to be in a weird bubble where we are sheltered from the worst of the extremes.

The saying “if you don’t like the weather in Colorado, wait five minutes” is pretty accurate. For a long time, I thought that it couldn’t do anything for a full 24 hours other than offer clear skies. Anything else would be intense, but brief. I have since discovered that it can also snow for a full 24 hours. However, I think I’ve been spoiled by a family from the North-East. After it had snowed for 24 hours, including both rush hours, I looked out the window and had to ask, that’s it? I later found out that out east of the city, they got about 22″ from that storm. I knew there was a reason I wanted to move out there.

Missing mountains

I was raised in Pennsylvania but my family is from New England. Our family has taken bits from each version of English to build our own slang. Things like “water” versus “wutter.” Water is what you drink. Wutter is what is in the Chesapeake Bay. If you aren’t familiar with that location, trust me, it’s not water. In my own mind, there’s “weather” and then there’s “weathah.” Weather is your standard, non-exciting sun, basic rain, basic snow. Weathah on the other hand, is serious. It’s the kind of thing that makes you think two or three times about needing to leave the building you’re sheltering in. Maryland, where I had been living, was really mostly just weather. I am very excited that I get to experience weathah out here. Even if it does mean things like driving home from Denver in 50 degree winds that kept me from doing the speed limit due to their strength followed by driving to work in the snow the next morning.