Why I Wrote this Book ...
“Shovelers Pond” announces a small sign stuck in among the horsetails and other weeds in the area that was a duck pond when I visited one chilly day last spring. Today it’s summer, 80 degrees. Last April the northern shovelers I watched feeding were temporary visitors, fueling up for migration to their breeding grounds in northeastern Washington and the Canadian Rockies. Now they are gone and so is their pond.
I’m trudging along the dusty gravel loop trail alongside the Center for Urban Horticulture at University of Washington in Seattle, searching for signs of change since I was here last. Blue flax flowers on tall spindly stems line the pathway. Part of that pathway runs under a platform supporting an osprey nest. The female doesn’t seem concerned about gawkers standing right under her nest where she feeds two scruffy juveniles. Lake Washington, about 200 yards away, is her fish market. A flash of yellow catches my eye—a common yellowthroat darts among the cattails on the edge of the lake. As I continue along the trail, a juvenile cottontail sticks his head out of the vegetation on the side of the trail, cautiously scanning the scene for coyotes, then scampers into the tall grass on the other side. By next spring that cottontail with be full grown. These seasonal changes are obvious.
Smaller changes are happening every moment. On one of my neighborhood walks, I realized that I wasn’t seeing as many white-crowned sparrows darting under bushes as I used to this time of year. Subtle changes like fewer of a species of bird I was used to seeing had alluded me. But an obvious one, like a pond disappearing, made me take notice. Because I live in the Pacific Northwest, I knew that this pond would make another appearance once fall rains began. However, I didn’t know if there was more pollution in the lake than last year or fewer bees than ten years ago.
In many parts of the world today, when a pond or lake disappears, it’s gone for good.
Drastic changes caused by drought are often permanent. Water is becoming more scarce, drought more frequent, storms more intense. Africa, the Middle East and even California and the Southwest here in North America have endured years of severe drought. These changes are obvious; other changes are also happening, but don’t get so much attention
I hope that reading Here Today, Gone Tomorrow will inspire you to become more aware of the natural environment in your backyard, your neighborhood, your town, and beyond. Climate change is already happening, even close to home.