Comments Welcome: First Memory of Global Warming

In response to my last post, I received some wonderful comments about things other people have been observing and hearing about, including the very scary news about the invasion of hairy scary ants, some suggestions about how to become more self-sufficient and a recommendation we incorporate barter back into our economy, and a first-hand account of global warming at work as a friend watching glaciers calve away and a visit to the same spot 21 years later revealed nothing but a big slush puddle.

Susan Reiners, the person providing the eyewitness account of her first realization of the reality of global warming made me ask the same question of myself — when did it become a reality for me?  I went to a community college straight out of high school.  Around 1990, a woman came to speak who was an expert at the time on environmental issues.  She described how, in her own household, she and her family would separate their trash into recyclable lots.  There were other recommendations she had for how to combat the destruction of the environment, including driving less, walking/biking more, etc.  These other notions seemed more reasonable to me.  The thought that, as she suggested, one day everyone in America would be separating their garbage seemed like something out of a sci-fi movie to me.  Although I didn’t think that would happen, I remember her presenting sufficient evidence that the environment was being very seriously harmed.  Although I can’t say it was my first time being aware of the truth about global warming, it was the first time that I got that sinking feeling in my gut that is now so common . . . it’s the one I’ve been feeling more and more when I think about the damage that’s been done and is being done to the earth, and the frightening repercussions.  It’s the one I get when I think about the very real possibility of having to fight to find potable water in my old age.  I’m sure you’re familiar with the feeling.

On that feel-good note, just wondering when was the first time you remember being aware of the reality of global warming?  Go ahead … gimme the dirt.

Keeping It Green

Maybe I was a little harsh.  My last report on my bi-weekly CSA pick up pointed out the meagerness of some of the offerings.  I’ve been noting all summer the harsh effects of climate change (f/k/a global warming) on home gardeners across the country.  According to an email that I received this week, re-posted below, we are not alone.  Larger local growers, as well, have felt the impact of unpredictable weather this season, which has run the gamut from drought to flooding, and has resulted in various pests brought in on the winds of Irene, blight, rot, increased sick days and low worker morale.  I just wanted to take a minute to say that I do try to give a fair and accurate picture of this – my first – CSA experience, but it doesn’t always capture the whole picture.  This is why I have invited others to tell me their stories, share their experiences, suggest additional alternasources, and, now, why I am forwarding the (very thoughtful) message I received a couple days ago from the organizers of my CSA and the farmers who grow some of the pretty awesome food I’ve been eating this summer.

Recently at a farmers market in Fort Greene, I saw signs from GrowNYC calling for donations to help organic/local farmers whose crops were damaged or wiped out by Hurricane Irene.  Their efforts are still underway.  One of their suggestions for how to help, in addition to direct donations, is to commit to eat locally as much as possible in September (the “locavore challenge”).  I’m encouraging all of you/us to continue this commitment through the end of the year, since it will take more than a month’s effort to help the farmers recover losses from a season screwed up by the environmental mess that we’re in.  Please share your stories here and beyond about what you are doing to participate in an extended locavore challenge (if the Occupy Wall Street protesters aim to make it through the winter, so can we).  Updates ahead on ways I’ve been putting my CSA treats to work.  Please pass along your recipes, suggestions, etc., on where/what/how to advance the local-eating agenda.

Here’s the email….

Chris and Eve have sent an update about the difficulties they’ve experienced this growing season, which I’ve shared below. We’ll be sending everyone an end-of-season survey later on, but if you have any feedback to pass on to the farmer before then, feel free to email the core group at


On behalf of the KWT CSA core group

From the farmers:

This has been a challenging last couple of months and although we were not wiped out by the hurricane the amount of rain has been a huge issue affecting the quality of many crops.  Not just with organic growers, as conventional farmers in the northeast are experiencing similar challenges and losses.

Under the circumstance we try to stay optimistic about the situation. All seasons are different and rarely are they void of conditions at some time that will have an impact on quality, quantity or diversity.    Farms in the northeast can be impacted by one or more problems like pests, drought, disease, flooding or other issues  outside of the farmers control.   Other farms even 100 miles away may have a totally different growing experience in a season.

I met with Cornell cooperative extension today to seek professional help (as I do throughout the season) regarding three different crop disease issues  and one pest issue tied directly to the wet weather.  They believed the steps that we had taken were sound and accurate given the tools we have under the national organic standards.  I also learned about the vast damage and loss of  crops in our region to conventional farmers who can use chemicals as a tool.  That didn’t make me feel better; I just wished conditions were better.

In conclusion, we are disappointed that we were struck with tomato blight this year,  that we have received almost double our annual rainfall total (most of which in the last month and a half),  that we were hit with damaging hurricane winds and pests and insects that were transported with winds.  What does this mean for crops:

Cracking and rotting of root crops like sweet potatoes, carrots, potatoes and carrots.  Tomato quality and loss due to blight which kills the plant and cracking and rotting due to excessive rain.  This means we have to throw out a lot of produce.  Heavy rain and pooling of water leads to leaf disease on all kale, collards, cabbage, broccoli, head lettuce, beans beets and many more.  In extreme cases plant roots can suffocate leading to the plant wilting to the ground.  That has happened to broccoli, kale and Brussels sprouts.  Seedlings that wilt off or get damaged by heavy winds and pounding rains.  Seeding schedules get thrown off because the ground is too wet to work.  Cultivation and weeding schedules are difficult to maintain.  Farm help doesn’t want to work and morale is affected and sick days increase.

These are some of the issues that are a result of the extreme weather we are experiencing.  We don’t like some of the challenges it has created and we feel grateful that it wasn’t worse for us and our csa members.


QUESTION: And you?  What will you do to keep it green?  Go ahead … gimme the dirt!

That’s Great

It starts with an earthquake … eye of the hurricane …

Protect your plants.  Bring ’em indoors!  Hide your wife and children…this is the big one, Elizabeth!  Oh, wait.  What?  The sky is NOT falling?  Oh, okay.  Resume normal.  What’s that?  This IS normal … the new normal.

Stirred Not Shaken

I should have known I was on shaky ground when I took my usual position on the 9th St. platform this morning — right at the spot that spits me out in front of the turnstile on my stop — and in permanent marker on the post nearest me was a brutally racist remark scrawled in hatred and large enough to read standing several feet away.  I was puzzled.  Maybe I have been naive in believing that level of ignorance was nearly extinct, especially in this great metropolis.  It seemed like the work of an adult.  I tried to imagine him.  It was a him in my imagining.  Unemployed, underemployed.  Poisoned with hatred, but why?  I almost took a picture, thought about drawing attention to the fact that racism is not dead but is alive and … not well.  I decided not to give it more attention than it might already be garnering.  I would not engage in sowing revulsion.  The image in my mind of the handwriting gnawed at me as I tried to reverse the course my day had started.

At work, I comforted myself by settling into my routine after grabbing coffee, yogurt, and trail mix in our building’s basement cafeteria.  I was running late from the time I got up and didn’t have my usual breakfast of oatmeal and coffee at home.  My next-door-office neighbor, friend and colleague came into my office to discuss a matter he was working on.  I complimented him on his snazzy running shoes (he’s a pretty serious marathoner and nutritionist in his free time).  I noted I should keep a pair of sneakers in the office.  We started in to working on the matter at hand, and called a supervisor at another branch to help solve the issue and, as the three of us were on speakerphone in my office, and I was just beginning to feel like the day might be getting back to normal, I spotted a very small bug on my desk, coming straight for me.  “Oh, fuck,” I whispered.  I have worked in this building for four years, and have sat on five different floors in that time.  Moving from floor to floor, you get to know people.  You hear things.  One of those was of a rumored bedbug infestation on another floor.  I smashed the bug, still alive, in my coffee napkin and took it to property management in the basement.  Phyllis looked up at me, raised her eyebrows nearly to the locks above her head and said straightaway, “that’s a bedbug.”  We handled the thing like it was an explosive device.  After I turned it over to her, she smooshed the life out of it, placed a piece of tape over it and began to solicit more seasoned opinions.  After I went through twenty minutes of controlled freak-out, our resident expert inspected the creature and informed us all it was not, in fact, a bed bug.  He produced a bedbug in a baggie for me to compare.  Indeed, mine was not a bedbug.  I went back to my office feeling certain the day could only get better from there.

But we know what happened next.  I have never been in an earthquake before, so to me it felt more like standing on the grates above an active subway station in a windstorm, times 10.  I was talking to a coworker on the phone when the ripples ran through lower Manhattan.  I needed no further warning.  I sprang from my desk, grabbed my bag, and when I realized I didn’t know where the stairs were (what was I doing during all those fire drills?), I took the elevator down the seven stories to ground level, half-apologizing to my colleagues for not sticking around (to watch the building come down), explaining that I watched the first tower come down on 9/11, and I know better than to wait around.  We got down pretty quickly but the street was already filling up with suits, tourists, vendors, workers, all trying to overhear other conversations about what who had felt and what who had heard.  I collected some quick news from my partner whose office is in midtown, one text and a quick call then the cell service was down.  In midtown they had seen the lights shake.  Thanks to my partner, I knew it was an earthquake (not a bomb, as some had thought).  I tried to get away from the tallest buildings, and planted myself near the Trinity Church cemetery.  A cluster of people were exchanging what they had heard: Maryland had been hit; the epicenter was in DC; Brooklyn shook bad; someone in Jersey had felt it.  I threw in my two cents about lights shaking in midtown.  Soon I had enough of a picture to make the decision to head back to Brooklyn.  It was the middle of the day.  I had been Sametimed by my boss for help on an assignment.  This is just one of two days I work in the office.  I knew it was risky to leave without checking.  But I’ve seen people jump from buildings.  I headed for the R and hightailed it for terra firma.

People waiting for the train on the platform didn’t know what had happened.  They hadn’t felt the tremors.  Some said they saw people pouring out of buildings.  Another said they heard firetrucks, but hadn’t felt anything.  I tried to spread whatever news I had.  I told the Asian man in the business suit and his girlfriend in the too-tight dress what I had felt, and asked if they felt anything.  They stared at me with wide eyes, obviously trying to figure out if I was a lunatic.  I smelled alcohol on their breath, and moved on to the next group.  A family visiting from Michigan, the mother obviously trying to figure out how serious this was without out and out asking me in front of her two children, probably 7-10 years old.  I stood with them for awhile, talking midwest nice and trying to get cell service.  I knew I wouldn’t be able to but something makes you try the impossible in situations like this, where you don’t know what really just happened and what lies ahead.  The towheaded little boy innocently suggested I use the payphone on the wall, an idea that struck me as genius until I remembered how rare it is to find a functioning pay phone in New York.  Again, trying the impossible, I picked it up hoping to get a dial tone but instead my ear was pricked by the loose wires where the earpiece used to be.  Eventually, an elderly MTA worker came along and I prodded him to find out what was going on.  He shuffled down to a red service phone that he pointed out should be used in an emergency.  A few minutes later, he returned triumphant, his dark eyes lighting up beneath his broad forehead that was now glistening with beads of sweat.  “TRAINS ARE RUNNING,” he bellowed with pride.  The train came along as if on cue.  Before the family from Michigan got off at the next stop, I handed them my card – sometimes you have to rely on the kindness of strangers.  After Whitehall, in the long passage between Manhattan and Brooklyn, I listed to two girls talking rapidly to each other in Spanish.  Although I couldn’t catch everything, I understood that one was afraid this was the end of the world.  The other was teasing her but obviously ill at ease.  I struck up a conversation with them, and found out then that the earthquake had happened in Virginia.  The girls had been leaving work, ground level, and hadn’t felt anything.  One was able to reach her aunt in Sunset Park who told her some of the details.  The younger one still seemed nervous this was the end of the world.  I told her with confidence that it certainly was not, and that the end of the world would come with much more fanfare – something extravagant like horses with wings and the Pope on fire.  By the time they got off the train, they were giggling and we all were wishing each other well.  The man next to me overheard our conversation, and asked what was going on.  He was on his way to work at the Bureau of Prisons in Brooklyn.  At his apartment in the city, he said he felt his bed shake but thought it was just his wife trying to wake him up for work.  But she had been in the other room.  I gave him what I had gathered from the time I left my office until then, including what others had experienced.

Everyone, it seems, felt something different.  My colleagues on the 11th floor, I later learned, barely felt it.  On 7, we all stopped and didn’t hesitate to flee our offices, the tremor was so strong.   A friend in another building that faces the back of the stock exchange later told me she saw people running out of it.  The folks  I saw underground were either trying to appear nonchalant, or were busy reading other people’s faces to see whether anything more had happened.  In this way, it reminded me of how people were when I worked downtown Manhattan in the weeks following 9/11, or what the sojourn from Manhattan to Brooklyn was like in the blackout of ’03, or the faces of my own neighbors this summer, in the days after Leiby Kletzky was killed.  This is the way a city communicates.  We gather bits and pieces from strangers as much as the people we know.  We rely on each other.  We count on each other.  We exchange odd little nuggets of data and knowledge to put together an incomplete picture, but one that will satisfy us until we have the energy to mine for more.

In telling the prison guard what I had learned, I missed my transfer to 9th Street.  He was getting off at the next stop but told me to wait two stops till I could cross over without having to pay another fare.  I did.  It left me a bit disoriented, and I stood on the platform for a long time before realizing the trains were not going in the direction I wanted them to.  I asked an elderly Chinese woman for help.  She explained that I had to go to the other side and take it back a few stops to catch the F.  There was kindness in her eyes.

Since I now was transferring in a different direction than usual, I didn’t pass the post on the platform where I stood this morning, reading hatred.  When I got to the transfer, I rushed up the stairs, eager to see daylight.  The train was largely empty, a good sign.  There was no apparent nervousness or searching of faces, an even better sign.  Above ground, I stopped at the corner bodega where I heard the earthquake was in DC.  I talked to three different people on the phone in the block and a half walk from the subway station to my door.  Before I reached my house, I found I also had a voice mail from a friend in Indiana. and a text from another in Harlem.  Everyone just checking to make sure everyone is okay.  Once home, relieved and exhausted, I powered up the computer, logged in at work, and took a quick check on NPR to see if there was any news.

There was.  Today, August 23, 2011, a memorial to Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was opened to the public at the National Mall in Washington DC.  The statue is inspired by Dr. King’s “lifelong dedication to the idea of achieving human dignity through global relationships of well being [that] has served to instill a broader and deeper sense of duty within each of us— a duty to be both responsible citizens and conscientious stewards of freedom and democracy.”  (  The “Stone of Hope,” a 30-foot sculpture, which took almost five years to build, faced countless obstacles and challenges to its being there.  The brainchild of members of Alpha Phi Alpha, the fraternity to which Rev. King belonged, the statue that began as an idea in 1984 took President Clinton proposing its construction, joint resolutions by Congress for its establishment, a design competition that generated controversy, and fundraising more than $100 million to build it.

But build it we did.

I Got Globally Warmed

And I am not alone.

Victims (not quite casualties but close): hostas and carrots and maybe the cukes too but the latter did produce. They just slowed down during and after the wicked heatwave we had.

So I made it to The Big Easy. But my troubles are not all at an end, my friend. I don’t like what I’m hearing. I met a gardener from Oklahoma who said they’ve been without rain for about two months. Said she went away for two days and came back to find her petunias and other flowers all wilted or dead. Another friend outside Chicago put as her Facebook status that someone had murdered her cilantro (I think that same killer was on the loose in my herb garden). When I was talking to a fellow reveler in Carmel, IN a couple weeks ago, she had to stop mid-sentence because it started to rain, something they hadn’t seen in many weeks (may also have been a couple months). She and her father commented that a lot of people would be stating out their windows at that moment. All other folks, too, across the country have been telling me their global warming woes. Hope about you?

QUESTION: what’s your take on this wacky weather? Are we getting globally warmed? What does your garden have to say about it? Are you changing your approach in response? Will this change what you do next year? How so?

Go ahead … Gimme the dirt!

Let’s Face It – Part II

A few days ago, I posted the following: More people are gardening because they think the world (as we know it) is going to end soon.

QUESTION: What do you think?  Go ahead … gimme the dirt.

And here’s some of the dirt…

Weighing in on FB:

Dwain Cromwell Not ending, but the world is changing. For the first time in my life, tomato plants are not producing in NW Arkansas because the temps don’t drop low enough at night for the buds to set. There are tomatoes at Farmers Market, but the vendors must have controlled set-ups. Back yard tomatoes just aren’t happening, no matter how much watering and care. It’s just so damned hot.


Crescent Dragonwagon ‎at Dwain Cromwell, this is SO sad. They say if climate change is not reversed, there will not be maply syruping in Vermont in 25 years.


Found online…”TEOTWAWKI” defined as The End Of The World As We Know It.  I don’t know if REM got proper attribution.  Anyway,, run by self-described former US Army Intelligence Officer and survivalist author, Jim Rawles, claims 32,260,087 (a number so big I had to insert the commas counting left to right!) since July 2005, and 260,000 unique hits every week.  REM only got 2,066,829 hits on Youtube for this video.

QUESTION:  Is it the end?  If so, as they say in Brooklyn, whaddaya gonna do about it?