Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Nature of Nature


I grew up at the edge of tornado country. In rural Southern Indiana most springs small tornados touched down somewhere within easy driving distance so that I remember Sunday drives to see areas of damage, in most cases downed threes and a few roofs without their shingles. My impression was that tornadoes were a kind of natural entertainment. In something of that attitude I have been following the posts of a tornado watcher -- see my side bar -- and feeling amazed at the odd beauty of cloud formations and funnels those rather foolish hobbyists photograph.

The last few weeks, and especially the last couple of days, I've realized that tornadoes are definitely anything but entertainment. The devastation in various towns and cities, and now in Joplin, Missouri is truly terrifying. The terror at both the destructive power and the unpredictability, the suddenness of these occurrences. Most of the time we go about our lives grumbling at the inconvenience of a rainy day when we wanted to be outside or the discomfort of winter cold and snow removal. We expect our homes which are often expensive and much loved by us, to shelter us from the majority of physical discomforts nature can bring. When a home -- even a six story hospital -- can be destroyed in a matter of minutes we have to wake up and consider that nature cannot be shut out easily. Being forced out of our complacency is a difficult and uncomfortable thing but sometimes broadening our point of view is a balance we need in order to think about what is truly important and about ourselves as small beings in a great web of nature which can be both wonderfully benign and delightful or suddenly terrifying and able to overpower all of our constructions.

1 comment:

FOLKWAYS NOTEBOOK said...

June -- I'm having similar thoughts as the words in your great post.

As our population expands there is more of a likelihood of devastating tornadoes. Where once a tornado came down and danced across a field -- now with development we see populated areas blown to pieces.

The people in MO and OKLA that have lost everything -- they seem to realize that pure survival is enough under these horrific conditions.

-- barbara