I’m waiting for Sandy. She’s coming, probably on Monday, but you never can tell. The talking heads on television are waiting for her. They try to predict where she’s going to stop first. Some say she’ll start het tour in Delaware and move up to New York and then head for the Great Lakes. Some think she’ll kick off the festivities in the Long Island Sound area. There are a few who, in direct contradiction of the wise men say she’ll ignore us completely and visit Nova Scotia and the North Atlantic. I shouldn’t hope that she’ll storm through Long Island Sound, but I kind of like major events by Boss Mother Nature. She’s the booking agent for Sandy. She’s sent out Irene last year and spun a surprise in October when we were covered by a surprise winter storm. Still, a visit would be nice, if not only to break up what turned out to be a non-summer. Summer is the time for hurricanes. a violent break to over humid days and nights. A diversion from flirtatious rain events that drop by in the afternoon and leave before dinner. We had a dry summer and there weren’t a lot of flirtations. It lacked the bone dry heat that had you thanking God for the sprinkling of rain. There were none of them that I remember. The only reminders of the summer are stalks of tomato plants that never bore fruit because the sun and heat withered them before they could properly take root. We needed a hurricane, not another Katrina but a well-formed low pressure system, born in the Caribbean and gliding up the East Coast occasionally brushing the coast, teasing a hundred miles inland, kissing Southern New England and fading into the North Atlantic. On the outside we complain about the visitors from the South but those of us in New England secretly love a good Nor’Easter. It gives us a starting point for stories about survival and near misses. Something to talk about when the next one comes.this sentiment prevails during the warm months. Winter is another story for another time. Right now all the people who have been forewarned by the Weather Gurus are planning raids on the supermarket and hardware store. Non perishables, those items that languish while we shop for fresh goods are carried home and put in a place of honor where the owner can admire them and the owner’s foreknowledge. Senior citizens are bussed to the market and pick up bottles of water and cans of Campbell Chicken Noodle soup. They have the memories of storms past tangled up in the mesh of past and present. Those that can evoke images of past hurricanes take comfort in the fact that they won’t be left to the ministrations of their children but will huddle in the game room of a well-staffed retirement home. As they wait out the storm they’ll share common lore and compare the over- and under- protective offspring. Their children will plan and put faith in modern technology. They have the bottles of water and canned goods. They’re in a prominent container marked “Storm Supplies Do Not Use” It’s usually near the clothes dryer. Not for any good reason  other than it just seems the right place to put it. The children will hunker down with battery-powered radios, TVs and DVD players. they’ll complain about a power outage whose root cause is at some place in the city away from where they are. They would be less restive if an errant tree limb knocked down the power lines within walking distance of their homes. That way there would be tangible evidence of the shortcomings of the power company, not trimming every tree that could potentially knock down the power lines. Some speak of laying underground conduit to protect the lines from hazard but will scream the loudest when the cost is passed on to them.

Personally, hurricanes are a wonderful example of how we can prepare for natural disasters and still come up short. Or how we become attached to one plot of land and will rebuild no matter how many times the house is washed away by storm surges. Persistence to the point of stupidity is a human failing we admire as gumption in the face of everything nature can throw at us. It is best seen in the Midwest where tornadoes level entire communities. We rebuild. We don’t devote funds to improve the building materials instead we improve the warning system. We can go to ground more quickly. Let’s try to bring back the primal fear our forebears had of nature. Not ten generations back but a hundred. Get back to the point before we began to develope the ideas that led to our supposed mastery of nature. It sounds like a bad idea. Nurturing a fear? Yes, because we as a species have become so comfortable in our lives that we’ve reduced our threats to those perpetrated by our fellow humans. If you were to ask the average man in a “civilized” setting what he or she fears more, a ecoterrorists attack or a hurricane. Most will pick the human generated attack because we cannot wrap our minds arround the concept of nature wiping out a goodly part of the populace. You can blame and put a face on a ecoterrorist’s attack. A hurricane is an abstract that becomes frighteningly real. We’ve survived them in the past, we’ll survive the next one. This may seem healthy, but it is not. Our perceived dominance of nature has led to deforestation, overfishing, dependence on chemical solutions to problems and a smugness that is scary. We’re taught that we are the top of the food chain. Not so. We’re just another link in a continuous chain. Just because death by bear attack does not top the list of ways to die it doesn’t mean natural selection has been suspended.  We’ve taken over the position as top predator and top prey.

All I’m saying is we have progressed at a rate that has not allowed for our habitat to catch up. Nature is a slow process. All the money you donate to environmental charities is a band-aid on a sucking chest wound. You can sew up and connect the damaged parts but it will be a long time before all of the wounds are healed. We should fight diseases that ravage humankind but we should also slow down enough to let the world heal. This is a fool’s errand because religion has divorced from nature, our intellect outstrips our com mon sense and the belief that all progress is good dominates our marketplace. It’s time to think. Are  we going to be the most technologically advanced species to go extinct? If so spend the IRA. The kids can get along on their own. Who cares when the whole thing flushes we’ll be gone.


Support a food bank. Read to a kid or a senior. Be nice to someone you don’t like. Talk to your parents, if you can.

See you on Monday