Type: RamsayWrites

Too hot. Too soon.

It feels we just skipped from winter to summer. But is this one swallow or is it a trend? Will shoulder seasons like spring and fall now last a couple of weeks, then be swallowed up whole by their extreme siblings? Will we all be forced to take up extreme lifestyles in order to weather The New Weather? It feels that way. But before all that, here’s what’s hot this weekend.

M’aidez! M’aidez!!

As a kid, I thought pilots in trouble screamed this from their cockpit to mark May Day, the start of summer in Europe on May 1, halfway between the spring solstice of March 21 and the summer solstice of June 21. That’s absurd, you say. But no more so than Vladimir Putin using next Monday to celebrate his..uh..victory over Ukraine.

May 9th is Victory Day in Russia, marking the date in 1945 when the Nazis surrendered to Soviet troops in Berlin. Red Square is awash in strutting troops, guided missiles and tanks galore. This May, though, not so much. They’re all needed at the front. But reality plays no role here: Putin may use the parade to announce the start of the real war against Ukraine.

Silent Spring

Sixty years ago, a retired marine biologist with the US Fish and Wildlife Service wrote a book about how the pesticide DDT seemed to be upending the natural order of things. Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring was the first book to examine humankind’s impact on nature. and sparked the global environmental movement. Silent Spring is still in print today, and as one critic said: “Her lyrical writing rendered her not a mere translator of the natural world, but an alchemist transmuting the steel of science into the gold of wonder.” Here she is now with a timely reminder that our days could be short here, so let’s not make this the last of our springs.

The ice is melting on Georgian Bay

Enough to get the kayaks out of the garage onto the dock and into the water. Thus begins our annual rite of spring.

As Andy Grove, the co-founder of Intel, noted, “When spring comes, snow melts first at the periphery, because that’s where it’s most exposed”. This may seem dead-cert obvious, both in business and in kayaking. But it really says to not just keep your eyes on the bullseye, but on the edges, where real change begins. Happy paddling with these little waves from that very place.

A Slap in the Face

My wife says don’t plant anything in Ontario until the May 24th weekend. But the impulse to declare winter over (spring officially started last week) lies deep within us. Why else would we worship cherry blossom season when the blossoms are covered in ice?  At least they tell the truth on Fogo Island: “Pack Ice Season follows winter, bringing multi-year sparkling ice floes to surround our shores.” Meanwhile, here in Toronto, it’s still a Hobson’s Choice: the parka or the chilly walk.

But these should warm you up:

“I used to be snow white, but then I drifted.”

Winter will repeat Mae West’s great line on Sunday when spring officially begins. But ‘official’ and ‘real’ are two different things, as Mr. Putin teaches us. So if the US Senate can vote unanimously to make daylight savings time permanent, and winter’s relation to snow grows colder every year, who are we not to drift? The falcon cannot see the falconer; things fall apart, the weather centre cannot hold.

Meanwhile, elsewhere in our world…

We interrupt this pogrom…

..to bring you odd news from its edges, like the Queen’s State Dinner for Vladimir Putin.; the collapse of Russian oligarchs’ wealth in the past two weeks; Malcolm Muggeridge on how Stalin engineered a famine in Ukraine in 1932; plus how to be an instant-soldier; and finally, the original Nurnberg indictments against the Nazis now that the International Criminal Court is opening a war-crimes investigation against Russia.

Meanwhile, in the world outside Ukraine..……

“I need ammunition. Not a ride.”

With those six words, President Volodymyr Zelensky has become the unlikeliest of war leaders. Before rising within 48 hours to be the most instantly known and lionized politician, he sang and danced and did the voiceover for Paddington Bear. But the real scale of his transformation is chronicled in this wonderful Atlantic piece, Meanwhile, if you just can’t let go, here’s an app to help you track oligarchs’ private jets; plus a daily assessment from the Institute for the Study of War;  plus the chorus of the Metropolitan Opera singing the Ukraine national anthem; and a chart on how much NATO countries spend on defense.

Is the cavalry coming?

During Hurricane Katrina in 2005, many New Orleanians fled to the Louisiana Superdome which was high and dry. They waited for help to come, and waited, and waited, and waited for the police, EMS, the National Guard. “When’s the cavalry coming?” they asked. The sad, tragic truth is, the cavalry never came.

Ottawans could be forgiven for feeling the same way. It’s not that the cavalry doesn’t exist. It’s that it doesn’t do anything, or hasn’t yet.  Time will tell us why the police in so many cities across Canada didn’t act.

For now, I’ll rely on Samuel Johnson’s letter to Lord Chesterfield who had refused to help Johnson finance his Dictionary of the English Language, until it was nearly finished and Johnson didn’t need support: “Is not a patron, my Lord, one who looks with unconcern on a man struggling for life in the water, and when he has reached ground encumbers him with help?”

So now…this weekend’s Omnium-Gatherum.

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