Last week the blistering heat and humidity sent my husband and me packing for the beach with our grandkids, who had come for a visit. I cautioned everyone to bring a sweatshirt, just in case. And sure enough, it was overcast, very cool, and windy when we got there. That didn’t keep the kids out of the water, though. They rode the waves until their lips were quite blue. (A grandparent’s measure of just how cold kids are.) I donned my sweatshirt and stood close to the water line to keep an eye on them.
I became mesmerized by the waves as they swelled out near the buoy in the water some distance away and eventually crashed against the sand near where I stood. I thought about the crazy weather we’d been having—a record drought in America’s heartland and unbearable heat around here that could turn on a dime and have you in a sweatshirt in minutes. My reverie was broken by a stray wave of icy water that broke against my knees and sent me lurching backward. I realized the tide was on its way in, and that each wave was getting progressively closer to where I was standing. I took a few steps back, to be just beyond the reach of the water. And it occurred to me—the change in our climate is like that. You can stand there in awe, watching the changes all around you, yet not realize anything is actually changing—until the waves start knocking against your knees.