There is no snow in the mountains. It’s worrisome because it means a dry spring and a relentlessly parched summer. It means that the threat of wildfire will be high. Further, it means that none of us will be able to get comfortable and enjoy the feeling of the land here and being under its spell. That spell has been broken by the change in weather patterns evidenced by this profound lack of snow.
There are those around here who say that global warming is a myth. Or else they claim that our carbon footprint is insufficient to warrant the dire claims that scientists and environmentalists put forward. For the most part, these are people are employed by resource companies who still gain from depleting resources. Or else they’re old-school believers insistent on the whole deal being a natural cycle too long in its sweep for any of us to recall. They’re firm in their beliefs. The funny thing is though, that they’re as nervous as the rest of us.
“Ice is thin,” they say when the day’s fishing is cancelled. Or they’ll say, “We haven’t run the Arctic Cat since Christmas.” When you look at their faces, the pinched look around their eyes reveals their worry.
“Well pump’s running slow. Water table’s way down.” I’ve heard that a dozen times at the dump when we gather to gossip after making our run. This from men who have spent 30 years living rurally where relationship with the land becomes as trusted as the motors on the old trucks they drive. Expectation, Reward. Predictability. The logorhythm of living with nature.
Where the river snakes through the long valley far below us, there’s a full 60 metres of exposed river bottom. At the old ferry crossing, the one that’s run for more than 100 years, they’re forced to haul cars across a wide flat of mud before they hit current and the operator only shakes his head sadly when asked if he’s ever seen that before. He’s been at it 40 years. The strangeness of this new phenomenon of warming overwhelms everyone.
My people say that there will come a time when the Earth will call out to us. They say that this is less a prophecy than a teaching because our function here is to act as stewards and we should know the voice of the planet if we’re doing what’s expected of us. That teaching is being revealed because that time is now. The voice of our planet is choked and dry and cracked because we’ve forgotten about stewardship and allowed greed and fear of lack to drive us.
My people also say that Creator is loving energy. There are a lot of religions and belief systems around the globe that embrace the same philosophy and the funny thing in that is that with loving energy there can be no lack. Love provides. It’s that simple. As a species we have learned fear because we’ve come to believe in judgment. Strangely enough, loving energy does not judge either.
It means we’re left with us. We’re left with the grace of self-examination and as a human family we absolutely need to look at our relationship with our Mother. There is no snow in the mountains. We haven’t seen a gravel truck in weeks and down in the valley, people eye the widening gravel bed where the river’s supposed to flow with the hard squint that comes with seeing the familiar alter right before your eyes.
Global warming is no myth. It’s no natural cycle. It’s not a conspiracy theory nor is it a deniable glitch that will fix itself. It is a genuine threat to the continuation of our planet and ourselves as a species, as animals as dependent on her life force as newborns at her belly. That’s just the stark truth of it.
So we need to look at our relationship with our Mother. We live on a planet and it’s amazing how many people wander about incognizant of that. The planet is our Mother and she calls to us now with a voice grown feeble by our lack of attention to her needs. She’s only wants what’s best for us like any mother would. In the end, what’s best for us is to pay attention to her needs.
There’s no snow in these mountains. There’s nothing we can do about that now except pray to be spared from wildfire. But we can change the way we relate to the threat and a prayerful, mindful way is a good beginning. It gives our actions strength and we need to act now in any way we can. As a species we can’t afford to be dragged across the mud before we find the current.
Richard Wagamese is Ojibway and the author of Keeper’n Me. He won the Canadian Author’s Award forDream Wheels and his new novel, Ragged Company, is out from
Doubleday. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org