Thomas Wolfe once wrote a novel titled "You Can’t Go Home Again," and with the horrible heat wave going on in Southwest Texas right now, that’s how I feel. In his poem "The Death of the Hired Man," Robert Frost wrote, "Home is where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in." I feel that way about San Antonio, but it looks as if climate change may have taken that option away from me.
That’s what climate change has brought us to–areas in the US (and all over the world) that will soon no longer be viable places to live. When your family and so many of your friends live in one of these places, the tragedy becomes a personal one. If the heat wave continues much longer, the reservoirs that feed most of the large cities in Texas will evaporate and these cities will have to be conserve water, stop watering their lawns, and then–if the heat continues–people will have to evacuate their homes.
San Antonio has an aquifer system (a series of underground caves that collect and hold rainwater), but with no rain the aquifer may empty. There were water restrictions every year we lived there, and I suspect they must be draconian now. Your lawn can turn yellow, your roses can die, but if you and your children have nothing to drink, you have no choice but to leave.
The cities of Texas, like cities across the country, have neighborhoods filled with abandoned houses due to the foreclosures of the economic crisis. If these places experience water shortages, they will become filled with new "ghost" neighborhoods, like the abandoned ghost towns of the past. When driving from city to city in Texas, you pass many of these ghost towns, filled with boarded-up stores and empty homes, usually abandoned because local ranching and farming became no longer productive, so people moved on. I shudder to think how many more of them there may be in the future.
Could Dallas, Houston or Austin become the first huge "ghost cities?" Alas, only time will tell.
As I write this, we are listening to Christmas music, because Whitley is writing a Christmas book for a publisher in the UK. Meanwhile, hummingbirds fight over the feeder on our balcony. It’s strange to be emotionally plunged into the Christmas season while it’s still summer–I keep having moments of panic, when I think, "Wait–I haven’t started my Christmas SHOPPING yet!" We often go back to San Antonio for Christmas to have dinner at the big old family house in the country, but I wonder if we soon won’t be able to go home again.
When I recovered from my stroke 7 years ago, the first thing I wanted to do was return to our friends and family there. We eventually moved on to California, but that home was something I could always count on being there for me, so it makes me very sad that this possibility has now been taken away. And I’m sure I’m not alone–the same thing will happen, and is happening, to many other people too.
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