Weathering the Storm

The snowstorm of October 31st wasn’t unexpected. In fact, it seemed like everyone knew about it and was preparing even though the first I heard of it was the night before. Knowing what an early snowstorm can do I was expecting lots of downed trees and the potential for a longer power outage.

True to form the storm shut the region down for several days. For some communities, like Agawam, this meant over a week. Without tv, internet, and the power to charge up those smart phones that we all love the rapid flow of communication, quotidian for 2011, stopped.

Who had power? Where could you find the sundries that became necessary to buy (and re-buy) with a refrigerator out? What do you do when disaster strikes? These and many other questions came up for us Valley residents. Continue reading “Weathering the Storm”

Blog Action Day -or- Woe is Me Garden

This Blog Action Day on Climate Change and Global Warming I want to take a look at how the changing climate has affected my garden this year.

For anyone living in the north eastern Unites States, referring to the summer of 2009 is likely to elicit a sigh or perhaps a sarcastic laugh.  In my youth the seasonal description ‘April showers bring May flowers’ somehow became ‘April sunshine brings May, June, July and some August showers too!’  The temperatures were lower than usual and in combination with the excess of rain many of my plants had a less than ideal growing season.

You see, I have a plot at the Northampton Community Garden in which I grow fruit, vegetables, herbs, and some flowers.   While I like eating close to home for the lower environmental impact, I also think it is wonderful fun to watch things grow and to nurture them along the way.  But this summer as I was weeding, watering and planting another thing happened: my plants started to behave strangely in reaction to the seasonably strange weather that some referred to as ‘global cooling.’

First of all, my pepper plants never really grew.  When the plants finally got a little bigger, I was waiting and waiting for the peppers to come.  I’ve had peppers grow well in the past, but this year, nothing.  Research amongst my fellow gardeners and my ‘small-scale farming guru’ father taught me that peppers are of a tropical origin and grow best with heat, something which typically comes all of July and the first part of August, but only made a short appearance this year.

The other major challenge in the garden this year was my tomatoes.  The excess of water caused many fruits to split before they ripened and then the late blight, something that I have always know to signal the end of the season in late September, came early and wiped out a majority of the tomatoes.   Fortunately I had three varieties of the eight I planted which survived the blight.  The otherwise poor tomato growing conditions wiped out my hoped-for good season with this fruit.

I think it is important to notice that there are changes occurring and that we have some affect on those changes.  I don’t know if they are reversible, but I believe our daily wasteful habits contribute to continued environmental degradation.  Our environment supports life on this planet.  Shouldn’t we maybe pay a little more attention to this?

Signs that you should not go for a bike ride

The side of the wheels on Fredrikshavn’s bikes, where the spokes are, have a cute plastic disc advertising that they are city bikes.  At least they were cute until the wind picked up.  Then they acted as an impediment to travel- part brake and part sail working hard to stop me in my tracks and blow me sideways.

I should have known the bike ride was doomed when the back wheel began to squeak rhythmically while in motion.  Maybe the tip off could have come from the loose steering, the drunken appearance of which had the bike moving in anything but a straight line.SDC12683

Another glaring sign that I should have walked may have been when my skirt flew up all the way up when I reached the first busy intersection.  Rather than cause an accident and perhaps getting in trouble for indecent exposure or being lewd in public, I decided to go back to the hotel and change into pants.

That’s probably when I should have decided to walk around town instead of biking.  But I didn’t.

I got back on the bike and headed to the Palm Beach.
Up an enormous hill.
With the wind pushing me back down.
Funny thing, biking back into town felt like I was still going uphill…  Maybe it was just the heavy rain that hit while I was at the beach that made it feel that way.

My citybike is now retired to the front of the hotel where it lives and I will be walking the rest of the time with the umbrella I bought to replace my lost raincoat.

So to conclude, please keep in mind any one of the following might be reasons to avoid going for a bike ride on any given day.  Simultaneous occurrence of all results in a definite suggestion from me to walk.

1.Wheel covers that act as brakes and/or sails
2. A squeaky wheel
3. Inability to steer
4. Inability to remain clothed while riding
5. Wind fighting you the entire time
6. When it is uphill in both directions
7. Ominous clouds in the distance

First night in Göteborg

Welcome to Sweden.

I had little trouble finding my hotel and getting checked in although the pouring rain made me walk in to front door looking like I had taken a shower in my clothing.  After I settled in I went for a walk to check out the nearby area and sniff out dinner.

I made my way down the street and noticed a something I had also seen and heard in Norway.  Football (soccer) fans pre-game.  Now while I had avoided the pub in Oslo I decided this time to go in. Why not?  The place looked like it had food, and maybe watching the game in the pub would be fun.  I might even get a chance to meet some locals.

So I walked in to the Gamle Port and squeezed my way up to the bar.  What am I thinking?  I should just go to some quiet restaurant and have a relaxing evening back at the hotel.  But, I’ve gotten this far and am not going back now.  One beer and some football and then I can move on if I still feel this way.  I was still unsure at this time about tipping.   The guidebook said not to leave a tip, but I saw other patrons doing so.  I turned and asked the guy crammed up to the bar next to me what I should leave.  Once that was taken care of I decided to go outside and get some air, the place was hot.

European football

Outside I asked a nice woman why there were so many cops around.  She explained to me that everyone there was getting ready to go to the Gais game and that the place would be empty in 5 minutes.  We got to talking and she asked if I wanted to come to the game, which was only a few blocks from my hotel and where we were standing.

Knowing the reputation of European football fans, I figured it would be an experience if nothing else…

The lovely weather.
The lovely weather.