When is Climate Change Not?

So, here’s a change that’s been ongoing for some twenty years now: aspen leaves getting hollowed out by leaf miners, which aren’t getting killed off by cold winters. One sees a lot of dead leaves. One doesn’t see a lot of dead aspen groves, though, probably because they’re expecting to fall to beavers or fire, anyway.

Aspens aren’t trees, if by tree we mean a root, a tall woody stem, and branches bearing leaves or needles. They are the above-ground stalks of large underground organisms. No stalk is the one essential stalk. They can weather this, just as they can weather fire and beavers. Facing climate change, we might ask why we insist that trees are single-trunked, and vulnerable. Is it because we are?

Beurre d’Anjou in Okanagan Falls

Look at this farmer trying to make climate change. In a natural environment, this tree would be a thicket, seeded by all those pears. Here, they fall on weedkilled soil (and the lower branches of the tree have had a blast of it, too), under a tree spaced out from her sisters to allow for easy human access. Just as the aspen can thrive in pretty major change, so can this pear tree, although she’d rather be a grove, like the aspen. So, when is climate change not? When it is a projection of human bodies and their desires. It’s change when it threatens those desires and body images. I mean, would we tolerate pear thickets instead of orchard trees? If we had to fight our way in there among deers and bears and cattle, to get some pears, getting all scratched up in the process? It’s just not the human way, is it. Still, some day it might be. We might have to accept our sisters as our equals. We might have to change ourselves to fit the lessons of their wisdom.

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