The Last Cold Front

“Man, the weather is changing a hell of a lot faster than the models predicted. Two years ago, I was among those saying we wouldn’t see a sea level increase by three feet until 2100.” Angus McCutcheon’s leathery face was the picture of worry. His mop of red hair, streaked with ample amounts of grey, clung to his sweaty scalp. He glanced at the mirror on the wall and saw a much older man than he thought he’d see.  His blue eyes, almost buried behind massive brown wrinkles of skin, turned and squinted at the computer screen.

Shelly Thumb nodded. “It’s gettin’ damn near scary, Angus. Crops are the shits.  And I don’t know where we’re gonna get our water if the reservoirs keep on like they’re doin’ of late. Priest Lake has gone totally dry. Did you know that?”

Just as Angus started to acknowledge Shelly’s bleak assessment, an alert from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration popped on his computer screen. A cold front over central Alberta, Canada, has begun to move south. Expect it to bring cooler temperatures to eastern Washington state and western Montana over the next twenty-four to forty-eight hours. Temperatures behind the front could drop to the middle seventies briefly. Nighttime lows will return to the mid-eighties after the front’s passage. Daytime highs could return to near one hundred by Tuesday.

Angus sighed as he read the alert. “I’d hate to own land on the coast and watch it disappear beneath the waves. But it’s really not much better here, is it? I mean, we’re seeing the collapse of farming right before our eyes. What are you and Jack gonna do if we don’t get rain?”

“We’re gonna do what everybody else is gonna do. We’re gonna die. People around here say  “at least folks on the coast have water,” like it’s some kind of salvation. But for cripe’s sake, it’s salt water. We’re all up shit creek. Do the NOAA predictions give you any hope, Angus?”

“I’m afraid not. But I’m excited that this alert talks about a ‘cold front.’ I haven’t seen them use those words in weeks. Maybe that’s a sign.”

The following Tuesday, NOAA issued another alert. In the absence of atmospheric evidence suggesting the development of future cold fronts, NOAA has suspended announcements about cold fronts moving south from Canada. Henceforth, NOAA announcements will focus on the effects of waves of warmer air moving northward.


About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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4 Responses to The Last Cold Front

  1. Great to hear from you, Don! I’d love to know your blog(s) so I can read your writing. As for influence, almost everyone I read influences me in one way or another. Some of my favorites, and the ones whose writing I think influences my writing (whether visibly or not) include Annie Proulx, Larry McMurtry…ach, who am I kidding…literally every book I read by almost every author. How about you?

  2. I’m working on it, Pauline!

  3. Don Hancock says:

    Hi John. Had insomnia last night and googling old teachers, bosses etc. ran across your blog. I’m all for this blogging for old men like us. I did a lot about childhood memories several years ago. I’ll be checking in from time to time. In this dialogue you may be writing in the genre of dystopia. Do you have novelists who have influenced your writing? Don.

  4. Another book or at least short story in the making. Do it, John!

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