Sunday, April 09, 2006

Nature is not on our side

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.

The electrical meter was removed weeks ago by the power company, sad evidence of how life here has changed. But to a butterfly-to-be, it’s just another place to closet up for the metamorphosis.

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.”


Mark Folse said...

I hope my wife, living in NOLA away from us for months until school ends, will find some comfort in the explosion of sunflowers erupting around the city.

They are a common site on the roadside in North Dakota, where they are grown commercially and seeds drift or fly off trucks.

(Hint: if you are wondering, as one blogger did, what those Giant Mutant Dandelion Things growing in your yard are, they are almost certainly sunflowers.)

Marco said...

Nature rejoices in Nature
Nature Subdues Nature
Nature Rules Over Nature

Anonymous said...

LOL. Picks us up and shakes us like a snowglobe. I hope the butterflies emerge before the demo guys arrive. *sigh*

My Word Verification is "nfeel" - that about sums it up.

Mr. Clio said...

BTW, nice new look, Tim. Same smart, humane voice.

Anonymous said...

Tim, you are the best! Honest, realistic, able to see both the long, hard road ahead and the beauty that is sometimes beside that road.
Can't wait to see you in a few weeks at Jazzfest!

Tim said...

sophmom, Yes, I'm worried about the butterflies getting out before the demo. My Darling Wife tells me they will emerge in less than 2 weeks, depending on the temperature.

mr. clio, Thanks! Blogger lost my template, so I'm still putting it back together. The blog links will be back soon.

jane, That's me, your friendly neighborhood Atheist. It's nice to know you read this foolishness. My work schedule will probably only allow me to go to Jazz Fest for one day, April 30, so I should be able to see Elvis Costello. Looking forward to seeing you, too.



Marco said...

I should have added that though Nature is what it is (a mother), man is what caused the flooding.
Like the new look. You article in the TP was written with a lot of emotion. It takes a steady hand and heart to write like that after what you and your family have endured. Like the new look.

GentillyGirl said...

I was at our house last week rescuing some paintings and programs. Sitting on the porch I noticed the Monarchs fluttering near my trailer. I broke into tears.

There are cocoons all over my once beautiful gardens. Life does go on, as shall we.

Glad to see you back Tim!


Laurie said...

Beautiful post and beautiful blog. I love the new look!