Natural Wonder

Even while accepting the scope of tragedy unfolding all around us, I find signs of life crawling out from the shadows of cold fear. I seek to emulate the seeds unfurling from rain-drenched soil, spears of bulbs pushing up through their dark confines, and tree buds pulsing on knobby branches. Despite the grim world news, nature will not be denied her spring debut.

We retuned from five days of travel last Saturday night to find a host of fire engines blocking our street. It’s never good when the first glimpse of home is a scene from a disaster movie. For just an instant, my heart leaped into my throat even though my eyes told me this neighborhood catastrophe didn’t involve our own humble abode. But the mind can still play around with worst-case scenarios like natural gas leaks or 100-year floods, lit by the glow of flashing emergency lights.

In the days since, we have gawked in passing at the burned out shell down the street, a foreclosure that has sat empty for two years. It will no doubt be rebuilt after the bank collects the insurance, but this is still a nagging reminder of how vulnerable these suburban castles really are, and how fragile our human-built structures of wood and stone in contrast to nature’s spindly seedlings with wills of steel.

I admire and respect nature. And yes, I speak politely to plants. I thank the earth for its bounty (quietly, so I don’t freak people out) when I’m plundering it for my dinner. I struggle daily with the lawn service signs of suburban atrocities committed against field and flower, the pollution I generate as I heat up my morning coffee, and the carefully controlled gardens of artificial perfection we create at Mother Nature’s expense.

But after a week of earthquakes, tsunamis, nuclear meltdown and fires too close to home, I believe that she will have the last word.

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