Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

April 16, 2013

WE THE PEOPLE: The season of hope

By John Wund
Chronicle contributor

CROSSVILLE — It’s officially spring, but most of us don’t set out tender plants until after Mother’s Day. That is, not unless we’re prepared to replace them after a hard frost! Even so, early spring is always a season of hope.

The neighborhood ducks have already hatched a few offspring, the wild mustard and serviceberry are blooming and a few (fortunately only a few) fruit trees are showing flowers. The thermometer on the front porch is pushing 80, the forsythias are magnificent and the daffodils are already past their prime.

I’m not the only one who has started the gardening season. Spinach and radishes are sprouting, along with perennials and biennials like rhubarb and garlic. This year’s tomato and pepper plants are almost ready to transplant into individual cups. Soon, plants and early vegetables will begin appearing at the local farmers market.

Those of us who have lived here for awhile, however, don’t expect balmy temperatures to last into summer. A series of “winters” looms. There’s Dogwood Winter (expected), Blackberry Winter (less common, and more damaging) and Sheep-shearing Winter (a freeze after blackberry bloom that kills a lot of fruit). But, with eighty degree days in April, there is certainly a temptation to push the gardening season.

A hot day also tempts us to think about climate change. After all, a day in early April when temperatures are 10 degrees above average seems unusual. It’s important to understand, though, that global warming isn’t about high local temperature. Instead, it portends an increase in “extreme weather events.” These could involve heat or cold, rapid temperature swings, strong storms or drought. It is also important to understand that attacks on climate science (almost always by people who know nothing about it) are just one side of a multi-layered attack on the logic of science, in general. Why?

Some people (in fact, more than a few) have a selfish, monetary interest in keeping us ignorant about the natural world. Some want us to buy this or that worthless gadget or service. Some want our “contributions” for a “cause” that is logically indefensible. Still others wish to divert our attention from their immoral or illegal actions by generating unreasonable fear about imaginary perils.

Yes, there are psychopaths who place personal greed above social responsibility. They want us to suspend critical reasoning. They want us to ignore the elephant in the room and worry about anthills. They pump up emotion, ridicule solid scientific logic and feed us dishonestly cherry-picked information. For society’s sake, these frauds need to be recognized and shamed. Are we up to the task?

To paraphrase Candide, at times it’s best to tend your own garden. I can almost taste those fresh vegetables. The wood stove is dormant (for now) and the ducks are laying eggs like crazy. It’s a great evening to re-read a few sonnets and listen to the spring peepers. But, there is work to be done tomorrow.

The optimism of the season fans a tiny spark of hope for a more rational future that will only flare if we marginalize the selfish and work together to form a more perfect union.

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This column represents alternative thoughts to other published columns in the Crossville Chronicle. “We the People” is published each Wednesday. Opinions expressed in “We the People” columns are not necessarily those of the Crossville Chronicle publisher, editor or staff. For more information, contact John Wund, editor, at jwund@frontiernet.net.