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Omaha, Nebraska, United States
I am more and more convinced that most congregations die from a staggering lack of imagination. Let's change that. Drop me a line on email or leave a comment if you have thoughts on God, Jesus, congregations, the church or whatever.... I look forward to our conversations.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Climate change and rhubarb

I love rhubarb pies, and strawberry rhubarb with my mom's homemade crust, made with lard, is about as good as it gets.  Turns out, however, that you need cold weather for rhubarb to grow. That could be a problem.

One of the things we have noticed in our move to Omaha is that the winters don't get too cold. (Remember, our previous homes were in Chicago, Minneapolis, and Bismarck. Omaha is as far south as we have ever been.) We like this warmer winter thing. I shoveled just twice last year, and one time I could have used a broom. Warmer winters work well for our aging bodies.

Yesterday, the Camaro said 100 degrees as we made our way to the movie SnowPiercer. This movie takes place on a train that travels around Europe, it is a self-contained ecosystem, and carries the only humans left after an ecological disaster.  I kept thinking about my rhubarb.

Even here in Omaha, rhubarb needs to go dormant in order to keep its tart taste. Rhubarb is kind of finicky when it comes to climates, but once it finds the right climate--you can't get ride of the stuff. It's rhubarb jam and pies for everybody!! If you've ever bought rhubarb in say, November, you notice how much sweeter it is than the stalks from your garden. Apparently some cultures force their rhubarb to grow so that its cultivates a sweeter, less tart, flavor. For me, if I want something sweet, I'll eat a strawberry...I want my rhubarb to pucker my face.

In the world of the Snowpiercer, my tart rhubarb doesn't exist. Sweet maybe, but not the tart stuff that makes for incredible pies. Since I live in the land of climate change "deniers" I am not sure sure what exactly is happening to our climate. Weather, I can experience, but climate seems a bit vague. I have no doubt that 7 billion people have an impact upon our climate. You'd be a lousy systems theorist to think that 7 billion of anything wouldn't have an impact upon a system. And the impact is probably as negative as it is positive. But either way, there is probably little doubt that the climate is changing...what that means is up for debate?

I've written many times over the past 6 years on this blog for Christian congregations to take the lead in ecological conservation. I believe for every dollar a congregation donates to a social service agency it should donate a dollar to a conservation or artistic non-profit as well. But the doctrine that creation, including climate, is a gift from God does not allow us to negate our stewardship in this climate we call Earth (third rock from the sun.)

Maybe the rhubarb being grown in gardens all across this globe don't really care about climate change? Maybe they are happy being grown in hothouses to be sweeter, and in being so garner a larger market share from berries and mangoes? Maybe it was never supposed to be tart in the first place, but it adapted that way because of where it first landed? (Interestingly, it doesn't seem to be native to the US.) I don't know...

But I did plant rhubarb this year. This plant is a lesson in patience. It will take a couple of years for this rhubarb to be ready to eat. One little plant I have I thought never even made the transplant, but then one day I say a tiny leaf peaking though, and voila! I have two beginning to establish. Who knows in two years if we'll even be living in this house? Or living at all? There's a lot of weather between July 2014 and July 2016.

And do you want to know something even weirder about rhubarb? If it gets too cold, the poison in the leaves leeches into the stalk, and the rhubarb then becomes toxic to humans. In the Snowpiercer world any rhubarb you found would kill you. So it needs cold, but not too much...kind of like a good Riesling.  This is what I wonder: is "climate" an excuse to change or to avoid change? It's the "change" that's interesting, the climate is whatever it is. And when the change causes rhubarbs and strawberries to taste the same, I will be sad;  because, if you've ever had the bitter-sweet, flaky-crusted strawberry rhubarb pie, you know the definition of harmony. You know delicious. And you'll know that change wasn't for the better...God promises me to "Fear Not" change, but that doesn't mean I have to like it; or, for that matter, I shouldn't plant a garden to try and slow the change down.
  (my rhubarb patch this morning.)

May your tables be full, and your conversations be true.

1 comment:

Steve Finnell said...
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