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Plan B

Are you prepared?

The clothesline, which I consider one of the sustainable wonders of the world.

Plan a parade in Chesapeake Country, and odds are it will be rained on.
    How many times did you fall back to Plan B this weekend? Did your picnic stay al fresco? Did your crab feast rush inside? Did thunderstorms cancel your day at the pool? Keep your boating dreams high and dry?
    Do fish bite in the rain?
    Living as we do in the age of wacky weather, we’re getting used to settling down to Plan B.
    In some areas of life, I’m well prepared.
    I can turn a crab feast indoors on a dime.
    On the day the electricity fails, grandson Jack will certainly have used up the reserve power of the little MacBook Air I’m writing on this morning. Nonetheless, I’m prepared. Plan B is the cute little Olivetti Lettera 32 portable typewriter that saw Annapolis Art Things owner Laurie Nolan through college. Laurie has passed the lovely little machine in its zippered carrying case on to me, and I’m grateful. It’s in fine working order, and the keyboard has an easy touch. When my computer powers down, I won’t be wordless.
    Of course if the power goes out indefinitely, all our computers will be as silent as the obsolete TRS-80 that’s part of my collection of machines that enabled us in olden days.
    I’ve already turned to Plan B for dry clothes, in which I include not only laundry but also the couple of changes of clothes per person soaked in every day’s downpours, plus towels to dry the usually wet dog. Plan B is the clothes dryer.
    Plan A is the clothesline, which I consider one of the sustainable wonders of the world. Mine snapped on Sunday when a waterlogged limb fell on it from high above. (A second reason to fall back on Plan B is the wren now nesting in my clothespin bag.)
    I don’t have a Plan B to fall back on if the rains — and my downhill slope — topple the giant soft maple tree that dropped the limb. So I depend on prayer and magical thinking to forestall that catastrophe. The tree I’m offering in its stead is a once-beautiful native red cedar whose enormous root ball has been tilted partly out of the earth by earlier rains. There’ll be a big noise but no big deal when it falls, for all it will hit is the corpse of the once-adjacent giant black cherry that fell this February.
    The sad truth is that my supply of Plan Bs is pretty short.
    Weather extremes are the new normal. Here it’s flood. There it’s the fire that consumed 19 Hotshot firefighters. Elsewhere it’s drought or temperature rise or seawater climb. Whatever it is, wherever you are, you feel a little more vulnerable, and that bit of unease urges you to take stock of your own resources.
    Zombie invasions don’t worry me, but I do fear the collapse of Earth’s natural resources under the weight of our dependence.
    Even Max Brooks, who has zombies on the mind, rates the contamination of water resources that invasion would bring as worse than the bite of a zombie.
    You don’t have to take my word for it. You can read it yourself in New York Times’ Magazine of Sunday, June 23.
    At my house, that Plan B is filling the big bathtub. We draw water from our own well, but our pump is electric, so we well users are no more or less vulnerable than people who draw public water.
    For big problems, my Plan Bs depend on the kindness and cleverness of strangers: big-thinking engineers.
    I’d have had no Plan B if my septic system failed before the Flush Tax funded innovative thinking in aid of Bay restoration.
    As I wrote last week, the rains of this summer convince me we need a Rain Tax plus property-by-property interventions to fix our storm water runoff. On that score, my household needs Plans C, D and E — and maybe a few more.
    I have smart friends who are reducing their taking of finite resources by digging geothermal wells or erecting windmills. My sustainability IQ isn’t as high as theirs; they’re up there with Mensa.
    So interdependence is my theme this Independence Day. I celebrate the vast power we create together to cope with the world as we find it today.
    Which is not to say that in my spare time I’m averse to beating the Summertime Blues. On that theme, we’re offering some very good ideas this issue.

Sandra Olivetti Martin
Editor and publisher; [email protected]