Weather…or not

Persimmon Tree: An Online Magazine of the Arts by Women Over Sixty
“Short Takes”
Spring 2023

By Kathryn Taylor

Wind whips around our weeping cherry tree, a tree already attacked by fungus that has been boring into the base. Now these strange new blasts bear down on it. The arborist warns the tree will soon be unstable. I weep for the birds that roost in its slender limbs, for the squirrels that scurry up and down its weakened trunk in their endless games of tag. I will miss the fragile pink veil that appears every spring.

Easter in Hollidaysburg will always be in April. Never mind the liturgical calendar. In the soft breeze, the daffodils danced at the edge of the beds bordering the front walk where my sister and I posed for pictures. Little girls in pearl grey suits, white ankle socks, shiny black shoes. Now, Easter can feel like February or July. We could be shoveling snow or seeking shade under the bur oak that shouldn’t even be in leaf yet.

Apples are available all winter now. What happened to apple season? What happened to the months with only red delicious in the bins, and we just left them there. Now all year long we see Pink Lady, Honey Crisp, even Stayman Winesap, which used to be local only to eastern seaboard, and then only for a month or two. How are growers doing this?

Tornadoes tore a trail through South Jersey farms and up into the Philadelphia suburbs. They flattened a new development and demolished a family farm that had served up fresh produce for generations. One lone silo was left behind. The cats and I had cowered under the hall stairs as the monster moved past just a few miles northeast of us. Tornadoes are not just in Kansas anymore.

Hurricane warnings were rare in Hollidaysburg. Maybe once in late summer the local Channel 6 newscast from Johnstown would make our parents worry. I remember once biking home from the swimming pool, pedaling fast because the wind had kicked up and it had started to sprinkle. But that was it. Hollidaysburg had no battered shoreline, no thrashing harbor, no palm trees bending in the wind. The names sometimes didn’t get to the middle of the alphabet. Now hurricanes happen everywhere all the time. The names run out of the Roman alphabet and start in on the Greek.

England, that green and pleasant land, is now not so green or pleasant. Floods stall train lines from Stowe-on-the-Wold into Oxford. Offices in London close through lengthy heatwaves. No air-conditioning. Verdant fields now vacant. We haven’t been back in years. Maybe we should just leave our memories alone.

Rain comes down not in sheets but in heavy suffocating blankets. A stream cascades down the brick steps to the patio, already ankle-deep in water. The newly-planted roses would be water-logged, if they hadn’t already been scorched by the preceding ten days of 102° temperatures. We give up.