After the fever, Marla’s bones ached like the marrow was seeping out. She wasn’t a malingerer. She refused medical treatment. Her father encouraged her to carry the pain while it piled up like a bank of snow against her body’s unyielding house. She’d been raised a positive thinker.
Though her steps slowed and she took more frequent rests, Marla, an ecologist, worked outside destroying invasive plants and replacing them with native species. She outpaced her co-workers, cheering them, finally collapsing under a tree.
Diagnosed with Lyme disease, she took a desk job. One of the lucky ones, she got better.
“Snow symbolizes death,” a Kenyan English major told me as we walked across campus to our shift at the greenhouse. Both of us clutching our coats closed against the cold, I suppressed thinking about ashy flecked flakes falling as early as July.
By May, the ground thaws so we can harvest root vegetables for winter stews. The short warm season discourages growing anything but leafy greens outside. Broccoli, artichokes, melons, tomatoes and tree fruits need shelter and warmth. Apples are a tropical fruit now, shipped on boats to reduce carbon footprints.
Quite often, the overhead sprinklers covered the floor of the D gates in a smooth sheet of water. No one knew why. Some suspected it was the amphibians.
The hot, dry weather drove them in. They made a steady pilgrimage through the walls and into the ceiling, working their way to the electrical box. Once there, they chewed through the wires like squirrels, sparking a conflagration.
When air travel was no longer sustainable, management turned the airport into a habitat for desert denizens. No more newts blowing across the desert, looking as desiccated as kale chips fresh from the oven.
Tent packed, sleeping bag in the car, Sophie set off for the Florida Keys where, at fifteen, she had ducked through mangrove channels, oars pacing past leaf littered roots and crowding branches. With the divorce final, Sophie needed a vacation.
Drenched in sweat, she would breathe the soggy air, gathering the constituent parts of herself that had withered in a confining relationship with a man she still loved. She would smile at deer flashing their white tails as they sped away.
Water sheeted the windscreen. Sophie pulled over, the car rocking, the wind howling. Wet noise covered her inevitable disappointment.
Mother Nature announced that her nephew, Dorian, was limbering up for a run along the East Coast. Not known for her empathy, the goddess told an AP reporter that she’d be cheering him on.
She mugged for the camera. “Don’t you love my new look,” she asked pointing to her melting ice caps. “Things are so fluid now.” She held a towel, maybe longing for a hot bath or a long shower. “Global warming has changed my whole look. So many insects, forest fires, new algal blooms.”
She ended the interview saying, “It’s a new world. Get used to it.”
The Pineapple Express thundered in last night, dark, weighty, pouring rain into soggy ground late into summer. In the morning, you pull on yellow boots, a raincoat, grab an umbrella, and step outside. Splashing through small puddles, avoiding big ones, your legs pump, hoping to reach the station between outbursts.
A lush jungle, California’s changed. Waiting at a light, feeling the air blow warm through your hair, you remember the cool contrast of Midwest rainstorms and muggy summer days. You think California could get used to April showers in August. You know the climate is evolving. Here comes the train.