Sunday, August 31, 2014

The Year of No Summer

That's what I tell my friends as I am well into my second week, of my second month of living with SHINGLES.

I hope you never get it, but statistics say that 20% of people who have ever had Chicken Pox will get it, usually when we get as old as we are.

Chicken Pox normally goes away in a couple of weeks, but it leaves a virus in you body that is just waiting to attack. Not much you can do about it, but getting early treatment often shortens its duration. It sometimes mimics a heart attack. Those were my first symptoms,  but my Cardiologist was absent from class the day they discussed that in Medical school, so it was left to my wife Linda to diagnose my problem.  Delayed treatment is probably what has caused my Shingles to last so long.

Enough about me.

There once was a worldwide Year of No Summer.  It was 1816.

I don't recall ever reading or even hearing about it until I started feeling sorry for myself and began looking for others whose summer was ruined by Shingles.

This is how Wikipedia describes it:

The Year Without a Summer was an agricultural disaster. Historian John D. Post has called this, "the last great subsistence crisis in the Western world".[5] The unusual climatic aberrations of 1816 had the greatest effect on most of New EnglandAtlantic Canada, and parts of western Europe. Typically, the late spring and summer of central and northern New England and southeastern Canada are relatively stable: temperatures (average of both day and night) average between about 68 and 77°F (20 and 25°C) and rarely fall below 41°F (5°C). Summer snow is an extreme rarity.

North America

In the spring and summer of 1816, a persistent "dry fog" was observed in parts of the eastern U.S. The fog reddened and dimmed the sunlight, such that sunspots were visible to the naked eye. Neither wind nor rainfall dispersed the "fog". It has been characterized as a "stratospheric sulfate aerosol veil".[6]
At higher elevations, where farming was problematic in good years, the cooler climate did not quite support agriculture. In May 1816,[1] frost killed off most crops in the higher elevations of New England and New York. On June 4, frosts were reported as far south as northern Connecticut and the highlands of northwest New Jersey. [7] On June 6, snow fell in Albany, New York, and Dennysville, Maine.[8]
Many commented on the phenomenon. Sarah Snell Bryant, of CummingtonMassachusetts, wrote in her diary, "Weather backward."[9]
At the Church Family of Shakers in upstate New York, near New Lebanon, Nicholas Bennet wrote in May 1816, "all was froze" and the hills were "barren like winter." Temperatures went below freezing almost every day in May. The ground froze solid on June 9. On June 12, the Shakers had to replant crops destroyed by the cold. On July 7, it was so cold, everything had stopped growing. The Berkshire Hills had

frost again on August 23, as did much of the upper northeast .[10]
A Massachusetts historian summed up the disaster: "Severe frosts occurred every month; June 7th and 8th snow fell, and it was so cold that crops were cut down, even freezing the roots .... In the early Autumn when corn was in the milk it was so thoroughly frozen that it never ripened and was scarcely worth harvesting. Breadstuffs were scarce and prices high and the poorer class of people were often in straits for want of food. It must be remembered that the granaries of the great west had not then been opened to us by railroad communication, and people were obliged to rely upon their own resources or upon others in their immediate locality."[11]


Cool temperatures and heavy rains resulted in failed harvests in Britain and Ireland. Families in Wales travelled long distances as refugees, begging for food. Famine was prevalent in north and southwest Ireland, following the failure of wheat, oats, and potato harvests. In Germany, the crisis was severe; food prices rose sharply. With the cause of the problems unknown, people demonstrated in front of grain markets and bakeries, and later riotsarson, and looting took place in many European cities. It was the worst famine of 19th-century Europe.[8][14]
Again, according to Wikipedia,

The crop failures of the "Year without a Summer" may have helped shape the settling of the "American Heartland", as many thousands of people (particularly farm families who were wiped out by the event) left New England for what is now western and central New York and the Midwest (then the Northwest Territory) in search of a more hospitable climate, richer soil, and better growing conditions.[24]
According to historian L.D. Stillwell, Vermont alone experienced a drop between 10,000 and 15,000 people, erasing seven previous years of population growth.[5] Among those who left Vermont were the family of Joseph Smith, who moved from Sharon, Vermont, to Palmyra, New York.[25]This move precipitated the series of events that culminated in the publication of the Book of Mormon and the founding of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.[16]
In June 1816, "incessant rainfall" during that "wet, ungenial summer" forced Mary ShelleyJohn William Polidori, and their friends to stay indoors for much of their Swiss holiday. They decided to have a contest to see who could write the scariest story, leading Shelley to write Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus and Lord Byron to write "A Fragment", which Polidori later used as inspiration for The Vampyre[26] — a precursor to Dracula. In addition, Lord Byron was inspired to write a poem, "Darkness", at the same time.


I had a dream, which was not all a dream.
The bright sun was extinguish'd, and the stars
Did wander darkling in the eternal space,
Rayless, and pathless, and the icy earth
Swung blind and blackening in the moonless air;
Morn came and went—and came, and brought no day,
And men forgot their passions in the dread
Of this their desolation; and all hearts
Were chill'd into a selfish prayer for light:

Mount Tamboro Eruption
I believe the reason very few people have ever heard of the YEAR OF NO SUMMER is because for many years it was simply a WEATHER story.  It had to wait for fairly modern communications to learn that disastrous year was caused by the eruption of Mount Tamboro in Indonesia, the largest volcano eruption in recorded history. It killed over 90,000 people.
By the time the world found out, it was "old news."

I'm not trying to out scare any of those great story tellers of the 1800's but scientists who should know, say that Mount Tamboro could erupt again any day now.
It's already been rumbling for over a year.