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Friday, October 21, 2011

The Year Without a Summer

The Year Without a Summer caused snow in the summer, clouds, too much rain, frost late in the spring and early in the fall. Crops failed. It happened in the US as well as Europe. It could happen again. Bear with me, please.

Percy Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft (soon to be Shelley), and Lord Byron, Dr. Polidori and others were staying in and were held hostage, housebound, by the rainy weather. They loved the outdoors and nature. Being of a privileged class, they could indulge themselves at their whims.  They amused themselves this one night by telling ghost stories and were spurred by a challenge to each write one. A rainy evening was the genesis of Frankenstein, The Vampyre, and Dracula (taken from The Vampyre. We owe much of our rich literary history to The Year Without a Summer.

Are you confused? I hate history and most of what I know is directly linked with literature. Having over 33 classes (over 100 hours) in literature, I managed to learn some history. That is how 1066 and 1588 are so firmly ensconced in my brain.

The Year Without a Summer was directly connected to the the eruption of Mt. Tambora in Indonesia in 1815. Check it out. They tell it better than I.

Read about the coldest decade on earth in the last 500 years. A possible earthquake elsewhere, evidence of which is borne out by scientific studies, along with the 1815 eruption of Mt. Tambora in Indonesia caused the summer of 1816 to prove disastrous for the Northern Hemisphere and earned the decade the distinction of being the coldest decade for the last 500 years.

If you think that global warming is a hoax or if you think the government will take care of us, think again. The government, working with more efficiency than we have ever seen, cannot stop another summer like 1816. Only a 3 degree drop in temperature almost destroyed us. The loss of one summer's crops would leave us with the same famines, crop failure, epidemics, and malnutrition experienced in 1816. As nations, we may have more stored, but we have even more people and services to lose.

Can you control your oil usage? Yes. But, will you? Can you quit wasting food? Yes, but will you? That is all rhetorical. Neither of those two steps you might take can prevent calamity in your house. Moving on. But, can you prevent a volcanic eruption? No. Can you prevent or even mitigate low solar activity? No. You cannot prevent another event like two powerful volcanic eruptions coupled with low solar activity, the likes of which we have not since seen, much less coupled. However, food storage, preparations for other essentials, and a little self-sufficiency can mitigate the effects on you and your family.

I don't mean to be an alarmist, but a post elsewhere started me thinking about Shelley, Byron, Claire, Dr. Polidori, and Mary Wollstonecraft. Of course, stream of consciousness took me back to class and discussions, most of which I remembered well, but until just now did not connect all the dots between my English studies and preparing for a food catastrophe. See? Grad school prepared me for this discussion. LOL. Plus, the American Romantic poets and the American Transcendentalists are my favorites in literature.

Those of you are complaining about rain spoiling your eventual harvest can at least find food elsewhere. There were no grocery stores in 1816. I realize that not all of us can prepare for every event in our lives, but think harder about what you can do.

Prices, Mormons, food riots, 1991
Prices for oats rose by five times the price the year before. Joseph Smith left New York and the Book of Mormon was written. Food riots broke out in England. The 1991 eruption of Mt. Pinatuba in the Philipines had a similar effect in the Northwestern US.

Poverty Summer
If you are an artist or scientist or into animal husbandry, check out this  article from Wikipedia. You will be surprised how our lives were changed.

Your turn
We are taught to prepare for floods, armed invasion, peak oil, collapse of social order, others seizing our food, GMO seeds, medical crises in stressful situations, putting up food, and bugging out. All these things may be just the thing you need in a year like 1816. But, have you ever heard of or read much about The Year Without a Summer? Can you see how a year's worth of food might be the least you should have on hand?


  1. Well written and probing questions.

    I have heard of Year Without Summer but in a larger context regarding the last Little Ice Age. If you want to read a good book that would help a great deal as far as still being able to garden in a year (or several years) without summer-read Carol Deppes "The Resilient Gardener".
    Its a straight to the point approach. I have had online arguments with people who say that this method is not feasible and then these people point to "Gardening When It Matters" which is not a beginners book by any means and doesn't deal with this matter at all.
    Seriously, borrow Deppes book from a library. She deals with these issues head on.

    A years worth of food is good if you can follow it through with skills and knowledge and by being able to adapt. For example, without summer you won't have tomatoes but hey, you can have an entire host of cold weather crops.Or you can grow in an unheated greenhouse, cold frames, indoors. Save seeds. That is just as important as saving food.

  2. Nicely thought out and good points you made.

    Winter is coming and I get to start out from scratch.

    What I had stored I left for the guy that bought my trailer, it had been gone through pretty much anyways.

    I talked to the new wife and she finally came on board but we are only going to be moving two house holds into this place for six months and then find a home.
    When we do, We will get serious about this.
    Right now there are some serious sales going on and I absolutely think they will just keep going.
    Corporate America is finally finding out that the cash flow has stopped.

    Sorry I ticked ya off about that crack about Nancy Grace but, hey, I am an Ornery Bastard.

  3. Ornery Bastard, I was just voicing my objection. I cannot afford them, but five gallon buckets outfitted with gamma lids seems the way to store things not already canned. They won't break or need really special handling. I understand how it is, trying to move twice. You cannot really prepare a garden either.

  4. LindaM,
    I will check on that book. Books. Thanks for the suggestion. Oh, my house would become my greenhouse if that were the only way to get fresh tomatoes. Not everything is possible for everyone. But, everyone can do something! Yes, I should have mentioned the Little Ice Age! Shelley and Byron are more my Besides, this was the culmination of three extraordinary events, not a normal Ice Age.

    I imagination any greenhouse would be fair game in the neighborhood!

  5. Linda - thanks for pointing this post out to me. i promise to come and check all of your posts that i have missed in the last few days - but this post was especially helpful. thank you my dear friend.

    and thank you for all of your sage advice and wisdom over the past few days - it has meant the world to me. and thank you for your support this past few days - you really called it when you said i was in shock. the nurse on the phone said the same thing.

    this post has been printed. i will re-read it over and over. thank you for such a warning. if we have ample warning - we can prepare. and those who don't prepare are fools.

    we are not fools, my friend. and we thank you for the warning, the advice and the support.

    i wish there was a grander way to say thank you. because i would say it that way. for now - all i can say is thank you.

    from the bottom of my heart.

    your friend,

  6. kymber,
    Even those who consider preparing are mentally far ahead of people who think "nothing will happen." Nominal preparation is even better, but the prepared Mormons will have us all put to shame. Okay, maybe you and kymber and LindaM and Wendy, most on my blog roll will be well-prepared. When I start calling names, I will forget people at this time of the morning!

    Just get better, the both of you. The posts will be there for a long time.

  7. kymber, you are to my mistake in last comment.


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