When I was little, I used to speak to the trees. They were my silent companions: playmates, best friends and baby sitters. I would wake in the morning, and leave out the back door after a good morning hug to my mom. Picking apples from their branches, and eating their generous gifts, I walked among them, telling them of my day. They were my living journal. Instead of ink on paper I put words to air and they would reward me with the sweetest scents and ripest crop.
Within this orchard I grew to love and learn about the nature around me. The blueberry bushes, the wild raspberries, the catfish in the pond, the mice in the fields, and the squirrels in my wall, they were all my class mates and teachers alike. I explored the bottomless fresh water springs, climbed the ancient trees, and ran through the overgrown woods, tripping over old stone walls and small stream beds. Though I loved this natural world I grew up in, I took it for granted. I never thought about the irrigation systems draining the ponds, or the trash that would fill up our roadside fields. I believed, in my childish innocence, that this natural playground of mine would always be there to greet me with the morning sun. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Spring was always my favorite season, because of the beautiful apple, peach and cherry blossoms that would fill the farm. Their promises of a plentiful harvest were like artwork, perfect paintings on the previously empty branches, filling them with the sweetest scents and brightest colors. This spring, however, those blossoms were brown and brittle, breaking from their branches. The winter had ended early, and the weather had become warm months before it was supposed to. Being the simple beautiful creatures that they are, the trees knew no better than to blossom with the weather. But being mid-February, the warmth did not last. A frost came, and then snow, and the beautiful waking trees were frozen, their buds falling from their branches long before they could grow enough to withstand the cold.
These sporadic changes in weather are only getting worse. Even now, in mid-September, the weather frequently hits 90 degrees, when it should be nipped with the beginning of an autumn chill. While the fruit trees of my childhood stand barren at harvest because of frozen blossoms, there are plants and animals alike in the northern reaches of the earth who are suffering from the melting of ice caps and glaciers. While places are suffering from long term drought, others are slowly being covered by water from the rising sea. These changes in weather, caused by global warming and cooling alike, are not only devastating for the flora and fauna, but also for the human population.
Growing up on a farm has taught me to appreciate locally grown produce. I know the work that goes into tilling, planting, pruning, picking and selling. Nothing makes me happier than our local farmers markets where I am greeted by familiar faces, selling even more familiar produce. Sun warmed fruits and vegetables fresh from the field overflowed the small plastic tables, practically bursting with flavor and grown with love. But recently, those markets seem far less bright. Those familiar faces are tight with worry, the tables have much more empty space, and the cash registers are pounds lighter.
Local farms depend on their crops to get by. A bad year can mean thousands of dollars lost and months of penny pinching and stress. But years of bad crops? When I was small, there were 17 local farms that sold at our markets. Upon coming to college that number is only nine. Eight of the local farms have closed or been adopted into other larger farms because they were unable to cultivate a healthy enough harvest to support themselves, and through no fault of their own. Plants will grow when the weather is warm, and they will wither when the weather is cold. When the weather can’t make up its mind, jumping back and forth between heat waves and frosts, the plants, and the farmers suffer.
The ozone layer of our earth is dangerously thin. Emissions are only building within our atmosphere. And though there are green projects trying to diminish the effects of wastes on our world, it still continues to worsen. Global warming is a very real thing. You may not believe it is warming, in the dead of winter when you’re cursing the cold, but you are certainly feeling its effects. And I see its effects every time I look out my bedroom window or see the trees with their branches bare. When I was little I used to speak to the trees; they were always my silent companions. But now that I am older, I speak for them.