Coming to terms with loss

I haven’t really admitted this to my friends back home because I don’t really want it to be true. But, I am gravely concerned that I have to make a choice.

And that choice feels unbearable.

I feel loss due to climate change in multiple ways. One key way is place-based resiliency.

At the moment, I live in Shelburne Falls. In many ways, it feels like a magical place. The town itself is stunningly beautiful, and wonderfully charming. It’s postcard perfect. It also hits several of my resiliency matrices. 

Precisely, I live just a little way down the road from the town proper, and the road to my house lies close to the Deerfield River. So swallowed at the banks with trees, I can only hear the constant dull thunder of falls both upstream and down. This is an important waterway and water source, and local power generation to boot. Beyond the river is the Southern edge of Mt. Masseumett. A train slowly passes just in front of my house as I type this. I love it. I feel connected to the cycles of commerce; two cars are filled with what looks like recycling. I’m perched up the hill a little ways; high enough not to worry about river water even in the worst circumstance.

But I’ve been on this road before, twenty years ago. Back when I had even more energy. With a 2, 5, and 7 year old in tow, I sold our house and we traveled the country for 2 years while we envisioned and searched for the best place to live sustainably, resiliently. We chose Dancing Rabbit, to steer toward, and to put roots.

It was a good life. And now, that good life is in peril.

Studies published by well-funded agriculture companies (who want to protect their investments throughout the Heartland) and the US Government indicate that the little oasis we created in Northeast Missouri is destined to become much hotter, more humid, and is forecast to be dominated by severe weather events. This in a place that is already prone to tornadoes, strong thunderstorms, flooding and drought. Climate change is predicted to be a disaster for the bread basket of the United States, and the sustainable home and resilient community I helped build is smack dab in the middle of all that.

As a result, I feel terrified. Sad. Humbled. I know that ultimately, that means starting over. I feel like a climate refugee, even though as I type it, I don’t think others would agree. My house still stands. Vegetables grow in the garden I built. The community is bustling with activity. But for how long? I am in the uncomfortable position of seeing the writing on the wall, before the evidence is unmistakable. This must be what the climate scientists felt like in the late 20th century.

Likely because I’m not living on the land at the moment, I can take a broader look at the situation. I can assess clearly because my day-to-day is not steeped in it. Perhaps it seems I’m being a bit alarmist, but I don’t think so. Each day, I read a handful of articles that illustrate drastic changes happening around the world, attributed to climate change. The rate of change is alarming scientists, who predicted a more moderate rate of decay and disruption.

We’re on a ticking time bomb. It’s in my nature to want to root, to want to integrate to my community. I’m tired. I don’t want to keep doing this again and again. Yet, this is in the cards for roughly one in three of us here in the United States. That figure is both terrifying and mind-numbing.

I wish I had more answers. Where to go, what to do. For now, mostly what I have is sorrow for what I will leave behind. The silver lining, if I can call it that, are the many lessons and skills I gained while living in community in Missouri. These I carry with me to any and all communities I become a part of. Maybe we’ll meet someday. After all, it’s plausible that we’ll both be one of the 100+ million US citizen climate refugees in our lifetime.

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