Nature does not care. If we learn nothing else from the destruction Katrina delivered upon New Orleans and South Louisiana, it must be this.
Up until a few months ago, New Orleans was teeming with biological activities of many kinds. Humans, of course, were the dominant influence on the landscape. But there were plenty of trees in this urban forest. Gardens and lawns, domestic animals and wild squirrels and birds as well.
When the water was finally pumped away, the landscape revealed was drastically changed.
But as the expression goes, “Nature abhors a vacuum.” Where humans once reigned, mold and fungus moved right on in our domestic castles. Where carefully planned gardens and tidy lawns once covered the land, a chaotic quilt of wildflowers and weeds blankets over all.
Life, once removed and destroyed, has returned.
Nature does not care. To her, the world is just one big snow-globe of life. Every now and then, she shakes it violently just for the heck of it.
There’s a good reason the moral way of treating animals is known as “humane.” Left to the ways of nature, there is tremendous suffering in the animal kingdom. We humans, and perhaps some few other species, actually care.
Before I drive off every reader with these philosophical musings, let me get to the point of this blog: I was at my fatally damaged house today admiring the butterflies.
My Darling Wife had always made sure we had plenty of milkweed in our garden. It’s the food of choice for Monarchs, she taught me. Well, since Katrina, the milkweed has been growing like, well, weeds. And the Monarchs are taking full advantage of it.
Fat little caterpillars are abundant. When they’ve gorged their chubby black and yellow striped bodies to the point of bursting, they climb to some convenient place and hang to become chrysalides. I was at the house today, and I counted 10 of the little green sacks with gold buttons.
The lawn and the garden are overgrown and out of control. The house is ransacked by floodwater. But nature does not care.
We, too, are working through the changes in our lives. Many of us are hanging in the “J” position right now, waiting to emerge from the pupa stage, hoping for the best.
We know that nature is not on our side—nature is on no one’s side because she’s perfectly indifferent. It’s up to us to make this happen. It’s going to be up to us to make it work. We have to care.
And it won’t be easy, because if there’s one thing I’ve learned about “Mother Nature, it’s that she really is a “mother.”