Fried Green Tomatoes

As to the Friday energy articles, clearly they are off the rails and down the tubes. Rather like our government. Regarding all things energy, I’m at a loss for words on what to write about because I’m so far behind the learning curve and no time to read up on it due to influx of green tomatoes. For the rest of it, I believe it’s time to draw a line in the sand. Just as years ago—yes, only and almost three years even if it does feel like decades—when the nightmare in the White House was elected and allowed to ascend with hardly a boo, I think it is time to write a letter to ourselves. (Not the Royal “we” but thee and me. Each of us write a letter to our self.) Because as politics and fear join hands, I note (again) that change happens. Just as a chicken will molt—to her horror and embarrassment—so, too, does Mother Nature. She molts what doesn’t adapt. 

Cha-cha-cha change. A stutter as inevitable as death.

I had a chat with one of my mother’s neighbors the other day. We were walking around Washington Square Park and I asked if she thought climate change was happening. She gave a laugh. 

Of course! And proceeded to note how in John Adams’ time, a person could ride a horse across the river to Brooklyn. Ice was a foot thick! There used to be a lot more snow. After a few other proofs in the pudding, she noted that it’s not caused by human activity.

I stumbled. “WTF” was not a suitable response to her perky, starry-eyed belief. I tried to come up with an argument that wouldn’t alienate her, that would allow us to continue our conversation. What I really wanted to do was an about face, walk away because this was exactly the problem.

I suggested that I had a graph that showed the direct correlation between the rise in the human consumption of fossil fuels, and the rise in the temperature of the planet. Even as I spoke, rising up in my mind, came the book we have in our bathroom called Spurious Correlations by Tyler Vigen. (Did you know there is a 99.3% correlation between the number of facebook users and the total U.S. wind power generation capacity? A 99.4% correlation between money spent on pets and alcohol sold in liquor stores? And a 99.6% correlation between undergraduate enrollment at U.S. universities and injuries related to falling TVs? Just sayin’.) 

As expected, she didn’t buy into my graph, however pretty. She scoffed at my ignorance and brought up Ptolemy, he of geocentric fame. Everyone believed him. And then came Copernicus, eh, voila. She threw my “97% of scientists believe that climate change is happening and it is human caused” into the dumpster.

What a relief it must be to believe the science of climate change but not take the responsibility for it. To know it is happening but to know, too, that there’s nothing you can do about it. 

While I mulled on the fact that we no longer have the threat of being burned at the stake to prevent our allowing for a shift of belief with the help of facts, she sang a song from the 60s, of positive action and hope. I tried to listen. My mind downshifted into a mire of hopelessness, the futility of not enough facts, and the willful blindness to what facts there are. Ah! The doubt that has been cast on the media, on science and facts. What we are experiencing is lesson 101 on how to start a totalitarian regime, something Putin is well versed in. 

The irony is that politicians on both sides of the aisle used to believe it was happening. Then big money got involved, Al Gore came out with his movie The Inconvenient Truth and suddenly climate change became a political hot potato. Politicians flipped faster than the Gulf Stream is going to if we don’t do something.

Does anyone have a good green tomato recipe? We have five bushels, I kid you not, of green tomatoes and I am finally hearing the music of the harvest. It took about a month and a half to realize that the reason my life felt out of control is because I hadn’t taken into account the time it takes to process all the food coming out of our garden and from the CSA we bought into because I didn’t think our garden would produce; ye of little faith!

Eggplants, peppers, tomatoes, more tomatoes threatening to rot on the counter put me in a resentful space. People are starving and I was resenting the time it takes to process the bounty. What was my problem? 

Change and adaptation are hard if you aren’t expecting it, worse if you aren’t prepared. 

Did you know that a lot of big cities in the world have been built near the ocean and that, when the oceans rise due to the melting glaciers and other stuff climate change, they’ll be under water? Whether it happens over decades (2050? 2100?) Or overnight like after another hurricane of the century, get out your wetsuits.

There’s a thing called . . . what’s it called?

Green tomato salsa. Green tomato pie. Green tomato roasted with garlic and oil and yum, yum. 

Shifting baseline syndrome.⁠1 When the change is gradual, each generation has a new normal. Kids today think it’s “normal” to see bare ground and experience two inches of rain, not snow, in January on the east coast of New England. It’s normal not to have bug splat on the window shield. Etc..

I’m talking about politics if you didn’t know. Nora, my fluffy-tailed cat died. My ass is rocketing south and my arms have lost what muscle tone they ever had. The soils are degraded, the icebergs are melting, the oceans rising, age and time, and if our government doesn’t dig deep and go for dramatic change, it’s over. So I’m looking at the candidates. I’m listening to their visions. I’m seeing how the media describes what I saw with my own eyes during the debates. And what makes me more sick at heart than the hate, vitriol and grotesque obeisance of the Rabid Republicans is the vapid, namby-pamby acceptance and determination to stop what might save us coming from the Democratic Party. Let’s stick with the familiar and convenience of four years ago. 

My hope? That the election of Trump heralded in a change that is growing. People of color. Women. Youth. They have nothing to lose. They are  galvanized and working for dramatic change. Social justice. Environmental stewardship.

This is interpreted by the media (Wall Street. Big Corporations. Power brokers in D.C.) to mean “they” will steal from “me”. 

Someday, I know I’m going to think back to these days of green tomatoes with regret at the waste and a wish for them back. (Green tomato stew. Green tomatoes fried with eggs. Green tomato curry.)

And so here is my line in the sand. Here is where I will start to climb the mountainous learning curve of the future: Be it Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Tulsi Gabbard or Marianne Williamson, they are all talking about the change that has to happen. Rather than fear it, I’m going to embrace it. I don’t see the option.