Welcome to the Pacific Northwet. Shut up, spellcheck. I left the s out on purpose. The Seattle area only gets an average amount of rain compared to the rest of the US, but we get a little, constantly. Except this year. I don’t care if it is officially a drought, or not; getting less than an inch of rain since the beginning of May is not normal. Ab-normal is becoming the norm in weather and finances. The planet is shifting, and so are we – because we must. Fortunately, humans excel at adaptation, eventually.
Californians have dealt with drought before; but this time is different. There’s an awareness that the combination of a larger population and a longer drought could be a good reason to shop for housing outside the state. Some farmers are already moving. It is easier to relocate farmers to better climates, than to ship enough water to California to maintain green deserts. The majority of people are staying, even as the wells run dry; because until enough of them run dry, most people won’t move. A shift in California becomes a shift in America because California grows much of America’s food, and houses over 12% of America’s population.
My lawn is brown. California’s drought is worthy of its headlines, but much of the west coast of America and the east coast of the Pacific is in drought. There’s a blob out there, and an El Nino brewing, but the details don’t matter to homeowners. They simply have to adapt. My adaptation is easy. The only way my lawn gets watered is from underneath, as the water flows in the septic system. The grass really is greener over the septic field.
There are rumors that the situation is temporary. Maybe, we’ll get a few drops of moisture this weekend. We need it just like the rest of drought areas. The Fourth of July kicked off several brushfires. A downed power line became a repair executed in charcoal because sparks sparked a fire around the pole. We’ve been lucky enough to not have lightning, but cigarette butts and irresponsible campfires have an excess of fuel to amplify their effect. (Thanks to the local firefighters who kept the damage to a minimum.)
One worry is that, if everything returns to normal, normal for this time of year is a lack of rain from mid-July to mid-September that climatologically makes the Seattle area one of the driest parts of the country. I guess I’ll be watering the tomatoes and peppers for a while. That, and letting the lawn stay brown, and easy adaptations. A bonus is that I won’t have to mow the lawn as much.
The financial world isn’t normal lately, either. China has a bubble in its stock market that is bursting, but maybe not affecting the economy – depending on how well individuals adjust to a market and investing economy. Greece is busted, which is the first time a developed country has become so broke. The key, and yet subjective, word is ‘developed’. In America, there are a series of paradoxes. Unemployment is down, but employment remains the same. (Because they are measured differently.) Housing is recovering, but people are finding it more difficult to buy or rent. (Because lending is tight and many houses have become rentals, some by corporations.) Wages are growing, except for the fact that they aren’t. (Because the average may be up, but many people aren’t getting raises.) (Check various posts within Pretending Not To Panic.)
Just like with cutting back on water, people are cutting back on spending – unless they have more than enough. The tiny house movement, a retreat from one car per person, a greater likelihood that people are growing their own food, the rise of alternative medicines are evidence of people seeking abnormal approaches to conventional lifestyles.
The political shifts are abnormal, too. Gerrymandering is finding opposition, marriage liberation is growing, marijuana legalization is gaining momentum, and people are finally realizing that something appropriate in 1860 may not make sense in 2015. Step back ten years and the world looked completely different. If you’re reading this before August 2015, Comedy Central has been conducting an epic retrospective by playing every Daily Show episode. Tune in and see what was news and humor. (I managed to watch the episode from just before 9/11. The tone of America has changed.)
The world changes. We adapt. We continue. It has become the norm that we expect constant change. I haven’t seen the numbers, but I suspect there are fewer people expecting everything to return to some idealized 1985 or 1955. Too much has been set in motion to allow everything to return to that version of normal.
I don’t know what normal looks like, anymore. I look forward to getting back to paying all of my bills. I look forward to having free time to relax and enjoy. I look forward to the rains returning. I also suspect that, if all of that happens, it will happen in a way that isn’t normal. I’ll adapt.
Amidst the brown lawn I saw an encouraging sign. There was a bit of purple poop in the grass. Despite the lack of rain, the neighboring vacant lot is evidently producing an early crop of blackberries. Some critter ate more than its fill and pooped out a bit of the excess on my lawn. Amidst a near total lack of rain, the berries of an invasive plant are ripening and feeding the local wildlife. The forecasts aren’t encouraging, and certainly aren’t normal, but somehow something good will be produced – and produced in enough excess to color my lawn.
Here’s to abnormal, adaptation, and acceptance. What other choice do we have?