This was not a normal winter. It rained and rained and rained. It was grey, grey, grey. Gale force winds blew in from the ocean, not once but many times. Several of my shutters were shattered. An olive tree fell in my garden. I pruned the dead leaves from its branches and had it hauled away. I am still in the process of pulling out a large number of plants that did not survive an unusual number of very cold days.
The soil is so saturated that streams are running where they have never been seen before, the land gives way, and boulders come crashing down the mountainsides. I have decided to remove all of my traditional shutters rather than repair them–as it is becoming clear that no shutters will survive the winds that will blow over our island in the coming years.
They say that we used to have strong gale winds of about 50 miles per hour once a year. Now we have hurricane force winds of 70 miles per hour several times each winter. I once read that Lesbos has the largest number of sunny days of all the Greek islands. We often sit out of doors wearing light jackets in the middle of winter. This year we did not.
My response to the long winter that has only just begun to give way was to stay inside. Though I said I was mildly depressed, I think deep down I was sad and angry.
Changes in the weather are normal and natural phenomena. But it is becoming increasingly evident that the changes we now experiencing are not. Climate experts tell us that because of the carbon we have released into the atmosphere of our planet, we will experience more and more extreme weather conditions.
I have noticed a decline in bees and butterflies in my garden in recent years. So far this spring there are almost none. This is not the result of global climate change, but of our failure to heed the warnings of Rachel Carson to stop poisoning the environment with pesticides.
The house martins have returned. I hear their liquid chatter as they fly above me. Freesias and irises are about to come into bloom. Pale pink, almost white petaled flowers are opening on the quince tree. Red leaves are budding on the pomegranate trees. The Judas tree burst into deep pink blossom overnight. Spring is a time of rebirth and renewal. This year is no exception.
Spring has also brought an increase in the arrival of refugees fleeing war in Syria and Afghanistan to our island. People discuss what will happen to them, but no one is talking about ending war.
Although spring is coming, it is hard for me to rejoice today. Human beings seem to be hell bent on destroying life. Right now I am holding back tears and screams because I fear that if I let them out, they will not stop.
Postscript: I will find the strength to rejoice in the regeneration of life and to redouble my commitment to save what can be saved–because we must.
Carol leads the life-transforming Goddess Pilgrimage to Crete (facebook and twitter)–space available on the spring and fall 2015 tours. Carol’s books include She Who Changes and and Rebirth of the Goddess; with Judith Plaskow, the widely-used anthologies Womanspirit Rising and Weaving the Visions; and forthcoming next year, Goddess and God in the World: Conversations in Embodied Theology. Photo of Carol by Maureen Murdock.