In case you have not already noticed, U.S. 1 now pays more attention than usual to residential real estate. In the past we have devoted at least two issues a year, in the spring and the fall, to surveys of housing for sale and for rent in our region. That will continue, but in the meantime we are paying more attention to the subject as part of our regular publication schedule.
Why not. For most of us our house is our single greatest financial asset, and it is one piece of our “portfolio” that always needs tending. In our small office alone we have colleagues currently contemplating an addition; overseeing a brand new basement under a 100-year-old house; installing crown molding in a three-story Victorian; wallpapering a finished basement in a suburban split level; planning a patio; and building a climate-controlled room in the basement for business archives.
Archives, of course, lead to old papers, and old papers make us think of clutter. Yes, all of us look forward to this week’s story by Kathleen McGinn Spring on the man who has made a business out of clearing out and organizing homeowner’s clutter. See page 54 of this issue.
When it comes to matters of the weather we may have the same predictive powers that Sports Illustrated has in picking winners of national championships. They put a team on the cover and it stands a good chance of suffering the “SI jinx.”
We run a story about the weather — as we did last week with Carolyn Foote Edelmann’s Interchange (our version of Op Ed) article on the unseasonably warm weather that preceded the spring equinox — and we immediately encounter some of the coldest days of the year. In the face of last week’s chilling winds, who wants to be Chicken Little and worry about global warming?
Well, a story in the April issue of the Smithsonian magazine — no Chicken Little — offers plenty of reason to worry. The story chronicles the plight of an Eskimo village on an island off Alaska that is falling into the ocean. The cause: Warmer weather over the past 30 years that has reduced 20 to 30 miles of hard sea ice to 6 or 7 miles. The ice formerly buffered the island from fall storms. Now sitting that much closer to open water, the village, Shishmaref, has been pummeled. Houses have been washed into the ocean.
The Arctic’s situation is exacerbated by the fact that, as ice and snow melt, newly exposed land and water absorb more sunlight and get warmer yet. Since the Arctic serves as an air conditioner for the rest of the earth, this is not good news for us in the lower 48. As the director of the Smithsonian’s Arctic Studies Center says of the 600 residents of the town, attempting to relocate to the mainland, “they are the canaries in the coal mine.”
Here in central New Jersey, as Edelmann reported in her column, the canaries might be the turtles that were lured out of the winter retreats during the January “spring” and ended up killed by a subsequent freeze. We will try to be mindful of nature’s signs, even as we hope for a warm day in April.