It’s a perfect, balmy, beautiful day. The kids are frolicking on the beach. They’re copying a man who is getting meditative while balancing rocks on top of one another, forming zen towers.
And yet something is wrong. It’s like the opening scene of a Ray Bradbury story. There’s a foreshadowing of doom. Maybe in the story, Bradbury describes that across the bay is Fort Baker, known to all Trekkies as the future headquarters of the Star Fleet Federation. But there’s some turn of phrase that he makes letting us know that the future will not a utopian society. As readers, there is an intimation that reaches beyond the sunshine and naked, happy children. Foreboding is lapping at the shoreline and foaming around bare ankles.
It’s January. It hasn’t rained in months. Underneath the Golden Gate, we should be shrouded in mist. We should be hearing fog horns warning ships that enter the bay. People should be more alarmed that the worst drought ever has arrived. But everyone just keeps smiling into the sun.
We’ve started to remodel our kitchen this week, meaning that I had to break down and clean out all of our cabinets. It’s not like it was filthy in there or anything, it’s just that it was an unorganized jungle. When you have two little kids, there’s always something more pressing that organizing your spices. Still, when there are two or more open bags of agar agar in your pantry, something is awry. Did you know that a group of Bullfinches is called a “Bellowing”? Or that a bunch of bears is called a “Sleuth”? Ever heard of a “Coalition” of Cheetahs or an “Array” of Hedgehogs? I’ll tell you something else you and I were unaware of. The amount of dried pasta in the nether regions of our cupboards is called an “embarrassment”.
It’s kind of disgusting to see just how much excess we have without even knowing it. It’s even worse when I think about the multitudes of those with so little. And then I think about my children and global warming and the attendant catastrophes of ever escalating earth destruction.
I could go on a crusade, begging everyone I could get to listen to stop eating meat. I could tell them that California is the breadbasket of the nation, and that we have no water, and that even if we adopt “if it’s yellow, let it mellow,” it won’t matter. 90% of the water in this state goes to agriculture, although there is a huge amount that just goes to produce fodder for livestock and that it’s wanton waste. But it won’t matter. I don’t think people will change their habits en masse until people start dying in huge numbers. I think there will be no change until it resembles the end of the Orwell or Bradbury novel and it’s all too late.
And we’re ignoring it too. Tomorrow, we’re all jumping in the car with new skis and goggles and jackets to burn petroleum based products all the way up into the mountains for a ski trip where there’s no snow. This is gross denial.
But all I have is right now. So I’ll smile up into the sky, and watch the kids play, and think about how I’ll use up all that extra pasta.