In the 21st Century era of global warming, we must cherish our proximate ecologies
Some of you who read my ULTIMATE ERROR blog here regularly know about my modest cottage out here in unincorporated Osceola County, Florida, near the shores of East Lake Tohopekaliga. My old haunt with the loose floorboards and front porch with the creaky planks.
Since I was a young boy on my family’s dairy farm in central Wisconsin, I’ve been an early riser. Now, in my golden years, I’ve settled into an awakening hour of a comfortable 4:30. A sweet half-hour more than I was allowed in my cow-milking days!
It’s 4:34 a.m., and I’m at the stove already, pouring water into my trusty cast iron skillet, popping the blue flames up with a click, and setting the water down to boil. I’m one of those “coffee first” types.
A draft from the back of the cabin reminds me that it’s unseasonably chilly here in central Florida. Yeah, that coffee won’t be ready a minute too soon. You see, my skin has grown thin after living in the tropics for several decades. Fifties have me scurrying and searching for my sweater nowadays.
I grab my kitchen towel and grasp the handle of the iron skillet. The coffee grinds and hot water mixture produce a comforting, richly scented steam. I pour it over my stand-alone filter, and as usual a good third of it splashes onto the countertop. Just the cost of doing business, I suppose.
Mopping up the spilt coffee, I think of that tremendous operation in the gulf a few years back. Oil-eating microbes. Clever. Not so effective, though, in hindsight. That’s because of the dispersants ostensibly used to make the oil easier for the microbes to consume. The dispersants, experts believe, pulled a lot of the oil to the seafloor where neither microbes nor much else can get to it.
Well, for today, that’s enough about the Deepwater Horizon disaster. I’m taking my mug of hot coffee out to the front porch where I intend to enjoy this new day and its brisk dawn. The moment I crack the door open the chill air delivers the ever-pleasant bouquet of orange blossoms from the orchard across the way.
My steps on the porchboards are tentative. The cold weather contracts them and leaves them looser against one another. Well, in any case, I don’t want a mishap causing me to spill yet more of my precious beverage.
My upcoming novel, ULTIMATE ERROR, is about an oil-spill cleanup disaster. When the stakes are high—and for oil conglomerates the stakes are always high—fallible people sometimes feel that to make a hasty decision is okay… considering the circumstances. Dead roughnecks on the platform and the platform on fire in the Gulf of Mexico. News helicopters everywhere. Tens of thousands (later, over 3 million) barrels of crude pumping into the water from a broken wellhead. High stakes in just about anyone’s book.