Hot and bothered

How could another century of global warming change Portland? Here’s a hint — sell your skis
By SARA DONNELLY  |  May 31, 2006

APRIL 4, 2106 I’ve tried to sell Nana’s old cross-country skis for three months now and I still don’t have any takers. I’m not sure what the problem is. You can’t find these things anywhere —they’re antiques — and they’re so versatile. You can hang them on the wall, make fences with them, or use them to prop open doors. Hell, I even used the things to make a little bridge to the other side of street during last weekend’s mini-flood. Ben says I should go skiing on them, but he was just being a smart-ass. We haven’t had regular snow here in Portland for years. Last time we had a true snowstorm, more than a year ago, it was what the weatherman called a “climatic fluke,” kind of like what my grandmother says heat waves with temperatures above 86 used to be. Everything was covered in white and we all just stopped what we were doing and stood outside and looked. Ben commented on how it silenced everything, like throwing a blanket over the city. I told him to be quiet and enjoy it. Then he showed me how to do this thing he read about called a snow angel. I think he messed it up because it just looked like God had punched the front lawn.

APRIL 5, 2106 Since selling the skis has been such a failure, I’m not sure how I’ll buy Ben’s birthday present. And it’s a big deal because he’s turning 21 this year, which means we can finally talk about moving in together, and also because he’s been feeling really grumpy lately. Maybe it’s because his family just gave up the house on Falmouth Foreside, the huge one they’d lived in for three generations. Ben doesn’t want to get into it much, but he says the ground just disintegrated right out from underneath it. His insurance company says the ocean has risen about two feet since his great-grandparents bought the place in 2004. They told his family it’s because the polar ice caps are melting, and insurance companies don’t cover the effects of global warming. Ben’s family is selling the house for parts before the whole thing sinks into the ocean, since no one in their right mind would buy an actual beachfront anymore. Ben was going to inherit that house, but now his family’s moved to an apartment in the West End of Portland, far from the erosion at Falmouth Foreside and the frequent flooding on Commercial Street. Why people ever built houses that close to the ocean is beyond me.

APRIL 9, 2106 Nana and I had a fight today. I said I want to move out and live with Ben, and she freaked out. She said, “What’s the point of starting a new life and a family? It’s just getting hotter and hotter.” I thought it was kind of weird — that she was being way too emotional. I said I like things the way they are, pretty much, and I believe President George Bush V when he says we don’t really need the polar ice sheets anyway. He says there’s plenty of ice left and that global warming is just a natural fluctuation of climate. Besides, I told Nana, polar bears are mean and like to eat people just for fun so maybe they should lose some of the ice they live on. I was just kidding, but that’s when Nana lost it. She said average temperatures globally have gone up more than five degrees in her lifetime, like this is something I need to worry about!

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