Saturday, October 07, 2006

You're not the boss of me

Last night at work, I was startled by a heavy bout of thunder. I hadn't expected rain, really. It had been cloudy off and on all day and had sprinkled a few times as I was working my way around Tempe's streets on my bike, but no really storm. Until last night. Thunder, lightning, wind and a good deal of precipitation. I sat by the window and watched as I sipped a cup tea and checked eBay for the average selling prices of some items I am considering selling.

After a time, I had to move in order to do the bit of work actually required of me on my overnight shifts. And I didn't think about the storm anymore. When I went out into the back yard this morning, though, the sight of the patio table and umbrella, tossed aside by the night's wind, led me to look around a bit more and think.

We have had fewer rainstorms this year than in years past, but it seems that when they have come, they have been much more, shall we say, "productive." I have seen entire streets turned into rivers, impassable save for a raft, or the fool in the Hummer, who tries to ford the stream and gets his fifteen minutes by being broadcast repeatedly one the five, six, nine, ten and eleven o'clock news broadcasts.

On my trip home, I was deluged, along with my fellow commuters, by the rain that fell this morning. As I watched the average speed driven fall by at least ten miles per hour, if not more, it got me thinking about how many things in nature are beyond our control and affect our lives.

The storm this morning was nothing compared to the hurricanes that come on a regular basis. Katrina was just a year ago, but still it's effects permeate New Orleans. Of more personal impact to me, Hurricane Mitch hit Honduras and surrounding countries in 1998, almost ten years ago, but there is still evidence of the sheer destructive power it brought with it.

There are countless storms that buffet different parts of the world on a daily, weekly, monthly and yearly basis. In addition to the storms, there are earthquakes, avalanches, volcanoes, tornadoes and other events which make the Bible so much fun to read.

It seems, at times, like the Earth is trying like hell to get rid of us. Roiling about, trying to dislodge the tick that is humanity and has burrowed itself into Gaia's skin. We strive to develop materials and designs which will withstand the onslaught of torrential fury that is leveled against us. We create buildings that will ride out the most tumultuous earthquake, we fortify our defenses against the floods that follow the rains and hurricanes, we build fake trailer parks to fool the tornadoes. Okay, not really, but you get the picture.

But no matter what brilliant advances we make in our attempts to weather the storm, we still take our losses, in lives as well as in property and money, with each shake of Mother Earth to dislodge us.

Every so often, we get a little reminder of who is REALLY in charge here.