We backtracked again this week. Warm winds and rain erased what progress we’d made on winter in the city. The air crackled with the sound of climate records breaking. This Southerly wind kindly keeps my next-door neighbor’s weed smoke in his apartment. Conversely, when the North wind blows the smoke of his homegrown jane through our shared wall, I’ll wake in the night and wonder how well it really erases his memories of Vietnam. Every building has its own indoor weather system: its cold windows and drafty electrical outlets, convecting plumes of heat bubbling against the ceiling, high pressure rooms that force air masses into lower pressure rooms, air leaking upwards past the damper of an old fireplace. In the absence of clouds, visual or olfactory, I can barely sense the air moving around our apartment. I open the front door to take out the trash and fresh air plunges inward from the pumping motion of the door. Back out in the public weather, I shuffle carefully across the parking lot’s ice field. Gravel has sunk into the compacted ice during a warm spell and refrozen, providing no traction there at the bottom. Over by the dumpster, the ground is a red mess of rowanberries left behind by a flock of waxwings. I missed my window for making jam this year. This Mountain Ash is an impressively versatile and resilient tree. If we ever get more snow, the plowman will leave a pile there that a moose will climb and eat what the birds left behind. If the snow fails to come, well, in a few months the tree will just bud and bloom again.
Jessica Cherry, PhD is a scientist, writer, and commercial pilot living in Anchorage and Fairbanks.