The Mood of Mother Nature, Part II
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I don't know about you, but these days, every time I walk outside, I wonder if the weather looks, well, natural. Is the sky a little pale? The morning too warm? I glance up at the haze hanging eastward toward the hills, and I ask, is that the regular haze, or has something gone awry? Sure, we're heading into a drought, but is it a natural drought?
Me, I read the papers. I saw that movie with Al Gore. And I worry if like some neglected girlfriend, Mother Nature may be really pissed off. I mean for years, we didn't respond to her silly needs and endless complaints. Then we stopped calling altogether. Now, who knows, maybe she's taking some ridiculous revenge.
Last week, the Urban Man headed up to the mountains to look for Mother Nature and try to gauge her mood. This week I may actually have spotted her, right on the palisades in Santa Monica.
I was out for a stroll on one more inappropriately sunny March day. There I was, looking out at a fog bank over the ocean and longing for rain.
Now, you may wonder why I even care about the weather when I work in a sealed high rise. Why I worry about drought when some guys in orange overalls pipe my water in from ...somewhere. Don't I have automatic sprinklers for my lawn?
And of course you're right. I can't explain my interest exactly. Probably some nostalgic fixation.
Anyway, all of a sudden I think I may have sighted Mother Nature right there on the grass--barefoot and strangely beautiful at middle-age. She is, as I imagined her, raven-haired with a streak of gray. Okay, it could be just one more homeless woman camping on the Palisades, but she does have a fresh flower stuck behind her ear, and yes, she looks pretty annoyed. Indeed, she seems to be glaring at me.
You know how it is, when years after you've dumped a girlfriend you think you spot her in a crowd? You're not sure it's her, but you're afraid that maybe even now she'll make a scene. You recall her old thunder. You say,"How did I ever put up with those hurricanes and humid afternoons? The perpetual uncertainty of her pleasure? Mother Nature was so unpredictable. That's why I dropped her. That's why I bought that climate-controlled automobile."
But now here she is, probably back to complain about CO2 emissions, groundwater pollution...yadda, yadda, yadda.
My first instinct is to turn away, but then that old nostalgia kicks in. I notice how a certain poetry hangs about her anger. I recall Titania in A Midsummer Night's Dream. Shakespeare didn't know much about global warming, but he knew plenty about nature goddesses, and in the play, when Titania feels neglected, the weather does go all wrong. She says:
"...The human mortals want their winter here;
No night is now with hymn or carol blest:
Therefore the moon, the governess of floods,
Pale in her anger, washes all the air
That rheumatic diseases do abound:
And through this distemperature we see
The seasons alter..."
Yeah, like all gorgeous women, Nature was always trouble. How could our love have lasted?
Still, you may say, the Urban Man should have offered her a couple bucks and asked for a little rain--maybe an inch or so before summer hits. But sorry... I offered no bribes.
I figured that if she was just another homeless woman, I'd look like a fool. And if she really were Mother Nature, a couple bucks might just make her even more pissed off.
No, like most, I thought: better to keep ignoring the old girl, and hope she disappears for good. I mean, we've been doing so well without her.
Copyright © 2007 Marc Porter Zasada. All Rights Reserved.
Image: Detail from Titania & Bottom by Henry Fuselli, circa 1790, now in the Tate Gallery, London
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