Sunday, July 23, 2023

The sky is so blue and I am not a coastal grandmother

Let me tell you about the sky first. How amazingly blue it is after several days of smoky white. I take a picture so I will remember to never again take the air for granted. But here I am, already forgetting,

preoccupied with trip-planning, the wedding of my son and his lovely fiancĂ© and who will watch the anxious dog and how many days should I take off from work and what should I wear. The wedding will be held in a beach-y location, so I am thinking, something... beachy? 

I discuss this at length with my way more fashion-aware daughter, joking when I ask her if there is such a look as "Diane Keaton in the movie Something's Gotta Give." I am picturing crisp linen or flowy flowery fabric. Or maybe this is more like "Meryl Streep in the movie It's Complicated"?  

Funnily enough, my daughter knows exactly what I mean. It turns out I have stumbled upon a style called "Coastal Grandmother." I am embarrassed to tell you how much time I spend scrolling around online researching this new-to-me aesthetic, wondering if I can pull it off, considering that I am neither coastal nor grandmother. 

But back to the hazy sky,

and how our phones ping us now when there's an air quality alert. "Poor," it announces one day. The next, "Unhealthy." As routine as checking to see if rain's on the way and should we grab an umbrella. Look at us, adapting, 

and aren't we the frogs sitting in the slowly warming warming water. In a book I just read about climate change, The Parrot and the Igloo, the author David Lipsky talks about the frog-sitting-in-water analogy. If you don't remember this story, it goes like this: Throw a frog into boiling water and it will immediately jump out. 

But turn up the heat slowly, and the frog will stay there and cook to death.  

The story, the author points out, gets it wrong. If you throw a frog into boiling water, it dies. A frog in warming water hops out, because frogs do that. They move. Humans are the ones who sit around, blink their irritated eyes against the murky white sky, and go on about their business. 

In our defense, what are we supposed to do? The author has no answers. I finished reading the book on a "Very Unhealthy" air quality day, and thought, Welp, we're screwed. 

My son calls and I forget to run my coastal grandmother wedding attire idea by him. I suspect that he will be fine with whatever I decide to wear. Instead, we talk about a meal he and his fiancĂ© had recently, a visit to a farm in the area where they live, an invitation to anyone who is "hungry for any reason." 

The owner doesn't charge for the food. Anyone can show up to pick, to eat. The farmer's mission is to practice radical generosity, to share what he has with his neighbors in our climate tipping world. It occurs to me that I am hungry for that. 

Today the air quality is "Fair," and I wish you could see how blue the sky is and how beautiful. I promise I won't forget. I won't. 


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