The time machines all around you

spring2The world, our world, is filled with magic when we are willing to use a broad brush to define enchantment. And why not? We touch upon telepathy and magic charms, natural shape shifters and mysterious potions, if you open your eyes wide enough in the aquarium or the pharmacy to see the correlations.

But what about that old science fiction standby of time travel? Surely there is no substitute for the cranky old machine in the professor’s garage that will take us to see dinosaurs or aliens inhabiting our world? Maybe, maybe not.

Is a trip to Cuba in 2016 a journey back in time? Is visiting a research lab at a tech firm a jaunt into the future? How about finding a box in the attic? Looking into a newborn’s eyes? Ah yes, time machines all around.

spring3Last week, I discovered a new one, driving from North Carolina to Tennessee. I’m spending my first spring in North Carolina at about 3000 feet above sea level, and have admired the many flowering trees as they burst into bloom. I already know that the full foliage of summer makes for my least favorite season in my new home, and I’ve watched with a little sadness as summer begins at my house.

Then I discovered, to my delight, that at 6000 feet up the little tiny leaves are just beginning to curl outward and the floral fireworks display is only starting. That’s right. It is a full three week trip back in time just driving up over the state line.

But you’re not really going back in time, you say. True. The calendar has not changed. However it looks every bit as if I had, and, in at least some branches of physics, reality is what the observer sees, not what the instrumentation of another says.

GreenlandLater, as we drove back down to lower elevations, I remembered a book I read while researching d4. In Gretel Ehrlich’s This Cold Heaven: Seven Seasons in Greenland she suffers from a heart condition that prohibits her from living in the high mountain terrain that she loves. Then she discovers that moving northward in latitude is the equivalent of climbing higher in altitude, without the oxygen issues. No, she’s not really higher above sea level in Greenland, but the plants and animals and lichens all make it look like she is, and she’s happy.

Sunday, I was back in the full flowering glory of spring, and I was happy too. Who is to say that’s not time travel.  Certainly not me.

 

 

It’s September. There’s hope.

daffodilIn the Midwest where I grew up, we looked forward to spring. One of my most vivid movie memories as a child (second perhaps only to my sheer terror at the wicked witch of the west and her flying monkeys) was a scene from Dr. Zhivago. After endless footage of snow and ice, the daffodils burst onto the screen and even a little girl could feel the hope in their bright yellow blossoms.  Ahhhh …. sunshine. Warmth.

And then I moved to the south. Now when the days begin to grow longer and the daffodils start to bloom, a sad resignation sets in.  Soon it will be summer and the windows will have to be kept closed and everything in my yard will wither and I’ll have to get up at 6 a.m. to go for a walk. Sigh ……

First I think that July is the worst, because you know this is going to go on yet for a really long time.  Then I think that August is even worse because it’s been incredibly hot for ever and it’s still going to be incredibly hot for a very long time.

autumnThen September comes. They days are shorter but it is still every bit as muggy as it was three months ago.  However, September brings something new.  Sooner or later, sometime during the month, there is going to be at least one cool evening, one time to sit out on the porch, one night to sleep with the window open. You don’t know when it will come, and it probably won’t be until late in the month, but it is coming.

We’re still a long way away from November, when we in Houston will have what passes for autumn if we’re lucky. Trees will turn and breezes will blow and for a few months we will get to eat out on the deck, just like the people in Moscow do in the summer.

It’s nice that where ever you live, there is hope.