December in the rainforest in the Pacific Northwest consists of liquid sunshine, monochromatic grey skies and gun metal coloured water. People wear clothes from the same palette – shades of grey and black – and my mental state around this time of year reflects the weather and the clothes. Having a couple of beers with my friend, and sometimes mentor, Camp, is one of the week’s highlights, even though we mostly dredge through the most recent slew of bad news, politics and pet peeves. No different this time. It’s raining, the choppy grey water is mirroring the low hanging clouds and dusk is only a slight change from the rest of the day. I was early at our usual table, and to while away the wait I swiped through some news clips on my silly phone. Camp showed up soon thereafter, shook the water from his coat and hat and sat down with a contended sigh.
‘Good day at the store?’ I asked, trying to strike a jovial mood.
‘Not really, the weather just keeps people inside but then Sally checked the books and pointed out that last year was no different at this time. It’s the anticipation of the big Christmas rush that keeps me awake at night. This is the time of year which keeps the leaky boat of the bookstore enterprise afloat. Well, what is the good news this time? I saw you pawing your phone when I came in. Anything interesting?’
‘I just had a look at the headlines about the recent climate change conference in Madrid. Over 27’000 representatives from over 200 countries converged in Madrid for a conference marked by squabbling and deferrals that marked little progress. If each one of them incurred about $ 4000 in expenses on average, flights, hotels etc. then that comes to a tidy $ 108’000’000. ‘A sad splutter’ one headline read. Alden Meyer, a scientist, pointed to the disconnect between what the science requires and what the climate negotiations are delivering in terms of meaningful action.’
‘Yeah, and it looks like the biggest emitters like the US and Brazil are the least concerned. Jay Bolsonaro wants to know if there is a resolution to reforest Europe. Or are they just going to keep bothering Brazil.’
‘The Madrid conference, COP25, demonstrated the collective ambition fatigue of the world’s largest greenhouse gas emitters,’ somebody said and I tend to agree.’
‘What other goodies did old Santa bring us for this jolly season,’ Camp said, trying to raise the feel-good level of our little beer conference.
‘Well we have the Impeachment drama coming to your living-room. A favorite holiday spectacle I’m sure and let’s not forget Brexit, supported by a historical majority of British citizens who elected a real chump as their prime minister to lead them out of the UN family into isolation and exile.’
‘Ok, here are some good news, just to add a little cheer to the season,’ Camp said. ‘Muriel, Sophie and I have decided to take a holiday after Christmas, close the store for week.’
‘Oh great. You mean like a real holiday with no work, no commitments?’
‘Yep, something like that. We’re going to Mexico City where Muriel has a high-school friend. She invited us to stay with her and we’ll be tourists, see some museums, the Frida Kahlo House, the pyramids. We’ll be gone from the third until the tenth of January.’
‘Wow, that sounds wonderful. Clare and I are off to Lisbon, Portugal, right after Christmas,’ I said. ‘To meet up with my sister for New Years.
‘I guess that means we’ll miss a couple of Thirsty Thursdays.’
‘I hear you’re both going on holidays,’ Vicky said as she replaced our empties.
‘That’s right. How about you. Any plans to get away”
‘I’ll be working the holidays. It’s where the money is and maybe I can convince Jason, my boyfriend, to take me out snow shoeing on Dakota Ridge. I’d like that.’
‘Snow shoeing eh,’ Camp said. ‘That’s walking in the snow with tennis rackets on your feet. I remember that. I did it once.’
‘No, these are lightweight aluminum framed snowshoes with adjustable rachet bindings. We’ve come a long way in the snow shoe department since 1970.’
‘Feliz Navidad!’ I said, raising my glass.
‘And the best of the season!’ Camp cheered.