Take Me Out of the Ball Game
By Jenn Weinshenker
I was watching satellite images of the currents of air circulating around the earth. Like you do. When I realized the currents of air were swirling around and through the planet horizontally and vertically all of the time. The wind never stops moving around the planet, ever. Then I understood it: I could picture it in my mind, how it took less than two weeks for some of the ash from when Mt. St. Helens erupted back in 1980 to land right back where it had started where the eruption had taken place, back on Mt. St. Helens. Yeah.
So, being a child born in the awakening of nuclear power and technology and remembering the sounds of bombers flying overhead when the Cuban Missile Crisis was blowing in from the ocean I naturally wondered: if an atomic bomb goes off in warfare would the radiation it releases travel all across the planet and affect a lot more than just the area they had intended to destroy? Wow…that was some pretty amazing stuff. The haze of delusional isolationism began to clear. The abstract sense of connectedness I felt but could not explain dissolved. I could see clearly now. A primal scream broke the silence. I declared in all of my glory that I was the center of all being but the sound was hollow and vacant. It wasnt true. The air had cleared.
I became fascinated by these satellite images and realized when the temperatures dropped here in Chicago, it was because the cold arctic winds were blowing down on us. So the earth wobbles then, I thought. Which was pretty funny, considering my ability to balance is increasingly more and more of a challenge every day.
I could barely hold onto the planet with all of the strength my feet could muster. So the currents of air, while still moving in a circle around the planet usually move from our west to east and the currents of air also move up and down across the surface of the planet. Again, some would look at me and scratch their heads as if to say, poor little puddin head, shes just a little, slow. Of course the earth moves that way. But I had never quite pictured this in my mind so clearly before. Not really.
I began to notice trends. In the fall and winter the cold air from the arctic moves further south and in the spring it seems that the air moving from the south to the north is stronger. When a hurricane from the ocean spins up the eastern seaboard it smells different than when the Gulf is kickin up her salty feet. When we start getting storms that are on the fringe of these atmospheric conflicts, these hots and colds, these fast and slows, these cloud ripples in the atmosphere and the weather turns volatile. When these warm temperatures and the wind and rain come up this far north you can feel it. You can feel it in your joints and bones. You can smell it and tell how far inland the storm is likely to go just by the strength of it. Or how many days it might last by how slow the storm front is moving. But no matter how hard the wind blows, with the current or against it, one thing always happens, the current continues to flow, horizontally and vertically, all of the time. The air keeps going round and round and now and then it goes up and down.
It is a force of nature. We cant control it.
Or can we?
So I started thinking about a baseball. And how if a pitcher throws it one way it might curve or a fast pitch could mean nothings going to stop it because it’s comin full force right atcha. But then I started to think: The winds are stronger, the hurricanes stronger, the tornadoes stronger and the overall average of our temperature is higher on the planet these days. The ice caps are melting and floods are getting stronger. What does this all mean? Could I learn something new from these satellite images?
And then it came to me.
I imagined a ball; like a tennis ball. The fuzz being the life that cushions our delightfully spinning, wobbly planet we call home.
Then I thought of the deforestation and wondered how taking trees off the planet could affect the global climate. And then I realized that if I had a baseball, and I affixed all kinds of knobbly dealeos to it and pins and toothpicks and sand and then I threw it real fast, would the axis of the spin change if I took some of the mass away from its surface? What about if I took off everything? Would the velocity of the spin of my baseball lessen or grow faster? What if I changed the density of my baseball and put holes in it? What if I stuck lots of different nails into my baseball? And maybe if I took something solid out, like some stuffing out of the ball when I removed a nail from the hole — does that mean the hole drilled into my little baseball leaves behind a permanent vacancy? What will fill those empty spaces? We know eventually something will. What will happen to the surface of our planet and the flow of water as gravity causes the earth to collapse until it rests of the shoulders of its very own core?
Hm. How can I stop this ca-razy ride?
I wondered about all of that for a while and thought, if you yank out trees from the ground and clear-cut huge areas of trees: would this affect the way the wind blows around the planet? I pictured that goofy baseball again and realized that wind will go the way of least resistance. Water and air do the same thing.
Is it possible that these eventual strips of bare land may become huge wind alleys across the planet? Causing erosion and the spread of pollution through them? And maybe changing how much the earth wobbles in the process? Arent these problems — if they are problems — too big for my pea-brain to understand? Too big for my poor two hands to change?
And then I thought maybe being an even more attentive gardener is something I could do. Maybe picking up a book or watching a program on organic gardening and learning a few things about planting trees would be a good way to invest my time and money. Maybe if I have an abundance of Maple saplings I could give some away to a neighbor or a wildlife preserve or a school or park.
Maybe we could all do this instead of chopping up or burning small trees. Maybe we could share them. Maybe on Earth Day we could meet in the streets and share bundles of small trees, wrapped in a little earth and moist paper. Wouldnt that be cool? People could trade trees and just give to each other for the joy of it. What a cool thing to do on Earth Day. I feel like starting a trend.
I realized when I was thinking about all of this that these problems are big. But even if I couldnt get my mind around them, I could still do something good. I could plant a tree. We could all pull together and take a positive step into a new direction that could just maybe, make a difference. Earth Day or any day could be a great day to share something groovy growing in your yard.
Go White Sox.
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2009 Jenn Weinshenker. All Rights Reserved.