I fell asleep thinking about two things:

1)The Sunshine Family

2) Global Warming

Why these two particular things?

Global warming because it was 65 degrees yesterday in the New England town where I live and it was 70 degrees (or more) in Boston.

On the news I saw that people were shopping on Newbury Street in shirt sleeves. Some in shorts. Allen heard a college-aged woman say something like, “Yeah, it’s global warming, but what are you going to do?” The newscasters were giddy with the warmth! People were dining at outdoor cafes! Everyone was smiling. This warmth seemed to represent a better world than your typical New England January does. One of freedom from the oppression of seasonal changes. One where you can roller-blade along the Charles with your shirt off. It’s all about personal comfort.

Why should we be punished by something so banal as winter? We deserve this warmth, don’t we?

You BET we deserve it! We have created it afterall.

It’s not normal for trees to be budding in January. I can’t imagine it’s healthy for them to be either. I don’t know what the temperature of the vernal pond on our property is but I wonder if it’s warm enough to breed mosquitoes?

Did I mention that my crocuses are popping out of the ground?

The Old Farmer’s Almanac for 2007 features an article entitled “The Good News About Climate Change.” Here’s what they say:

“Warmer Weather is Healthier.” Interesting. Have you noticed everyone is sick this year. Including me–right now?

“Warmer Temperatures Save Energy.” Yes, we are using fewer heating resources this winter–that’s for sure. But what about all of the energy usage for cooling in the brutally hot summers?

“Water is More Abundant.” Well okay, but when it’s flooding your house it’s not exactly a resource you want in abundance.

“Plants Thrive in Heat and C02.” I don’t quite know what to say about this one.

And my favorite: “Arctic Shipping Routes Will Save Time and Energy.” I’m not even joking that this is part of the article! I wish I was! Here’s a quote: “As the ice has melted, new opportunities have opened up.”

Instead of pleasing me–as the almanac urges–the warmth makes me gloomy, fearful. I worry over the ice caps melting and sea levels rising. I worry that we (especially those who are in coastal areas) are living on borrowed time. Already, the barrier island Allen and I used to live on has eroded year by year with harsh winter storms. If sea levels rise, I worry it will be one of those land masses that will be lost and the birds that migrate to the sanctuary there will find nowhere to breed.

Mostly, though I worry about the species that will become extinct–the plants and animals. The human life that will be lost–that is being lost already. The potential wars that dwindling resources may create.

And so we do our best to do our part: we recycle, we compost, we try not to overuse natural resources, we donate to become a zero carbon family. But it feels like an uphill battle–particularly when at one trip to the dump we see our fellow townsfolk lazily throwing their recyclable into the dumpster or we see people standing their cars at their mailboxes instead of walking down their driveways to get the mail.

If you are too lazy to walk your fat ass down the driveway, what do you care about global warming? Do you care at all?

I’m guessing no.

It’s not all gloom. I have many friends who feel as I do and I know they do their part but I also know that many people would rather toss a can out the window of their car (judging by the sides of the road I walk on) than recycle. And I know I’m not perfect. There are certainly things that I buy that maybe I shouldn’t or products I use that are more part of the problem rather than the solution. Yes, there are definitely times when I choose my comfort over the greater good, but I am always willing to do something, however small, to make a difference.

Okay, so what does this have to do with The Sunshine Family? What I comforted myself with last night is that I have to believe that any child who played with my beloved The Sunshine Family (which was apparently produced between 1974-1978)–a hippy-dippy, log-cabin living, clan–will feel the same way I do. I have to believe that at the very least this one group is a group of recyclers and C02 offsetters, of underusers and of believers in what science is telling us (and I also believe every generation must have some toy or book such as this one which will make them believe in helping to halt global warming).

Think about the world that created The Sunshine Family and the popularity of such shows as “Little House on the Prairie”? The circumstances? The horrors of the Vietnam war and the oil embargo may well have been an impetus for creating such a live-off-the-land crew, for teaching children about a happier, brighter, more environmentally-sound tomorrow.

Is life so different now than when I played with these dolls, so much better? Have I helped to make a difference? I wish I could say yes but I can’t. I feel that in many ways time has stood still. Yet I cling to the comfort that The Sunshine Family and their ilk gives me. I believe in their transformative powers. I know that they and those who follow them will do their very best to help turn the tide from now forward. I know you will, too.

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