Rachel’s Climate Story




Ohio 44417

How are you sensing climate change?

Ohio was home for the first eighteen years of my life. Since leaving it, however, it has become refuge. During the pandemic, after first taking sanctuary with my boyfriend’s family in Massachusetts, I fled from Philadelphia to Ohio. When the stresses of my Ivy League classes become too strong, I return to Ohio. And when natural disasters plague whatever coastal city I eventually move to in my career, I will flee back to Ohio. Stable, sheltered, safe Ohio. When I make Ohio this refuge in this mind, however, I imagine it as unchanging. Like a desert oasis, it seems magical in its consistency. It is a single inert image in my mind—a photo, not a video. A memory. This is a disservice to the verdant life that lives and dies there every day. It is also a disservice to the way that my small corner of rural Ohio is not the same Ohio I remember. It has changed over time. Snow comes at different times at home now. There’s rarely a white Christmas anymore, but almost always a white Easter. It often snows on my mother’s birthday in late April. Sometimes, it snows on my birthday in late May. This is even despite the lake effect of Lake Erie adding more snow to our region. The fruit trees in our backyard are killed off by the late frosts. It decimates bug populations. Somehow, though, every year is a record year for ticks. I pull them off our pets nearly every day that I’m home. Now there are heat waves in the summer, too. There are ninety-degree days in Ohio every week, it seems. I don’t know if it used to be like this, but if so, it didn’t feel as insufferable. I feel driven inside, hiding from the heat, even as the air-conditioned house is too cold. The air is a heavier kind of hot, it seems. The weight of the reason why it’s so warm is literally weighing on the air. I am scared by the changes of Ohio, perhaps for selfish reasons. I always imagined it as an untouchable refuge to flee back to, if some plight were to befall the rest of America. There are few natural disasters besides blizzards, access to fresh water, and a stable climate. I’m from a very rural, very tiny area—so the security threats that might afflict New York, Washington D.C, or Los Angeles always felt far away. But climate change can still reach me in Ohio, despite my best efforts. Even so, though, it doesn’t show its change as much as other places. The heat is hot, but manageable; it hasn’t killed anyone yet. The cold is cold, but familiar for the winter climate. And still, when my parents talk about moving, I panic. Where will I go when the world gets worse?

How do these changes make you feel?

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Farmdale, OH 44417, USA

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