During my first month at Drake University, my roommates and I were faced with blank dormitory walls and bare wardrobe doors. We solved the problem when a poster-peddling salesman passed through Des Moines, bringing with him all the papery options a college student could dream about.
One of my roommate, an avid Barack Obama fan, purchased one of those weird red-and-blue photo negative prints with the word HOPE written across the bottom, as well as a life-size poster of the Beatles’ faces. I opted for something less creepy (Ringo’s eyes seem to follow me around the room) and brought home a thin green poster explaining the principles of Murphy’s Law.
Murphy’s Law, for those who haven’t heard, is a definitive explanation of everything. I really don’t understand how some sort of religious devotees have not rallied around this sacred document. Murphy’s Law provides all the guidance, support and suggestions that any faith strives to supply. Murphy’s Law even has a Golden Rule: “Whatever can go wrong, will go wrong.”
But it goes deeper than that! Murphy’s Law, like the Bible, Torah or Qur’an, tells you how to live your life without wrecking it, falling to temptation or being eaten by something.
For example, Murphy wisely advises his listeners to avoid potentially damaging themselves upon sharp objects when he says, “Never play leapfrog with a unicorn.” Brilliant.
But the Law I find to be sheer genius and most pertinent to this blog post: “Mother Nature is a bitch.”
It’s true, she really is, and don’t try to tell me otherwise. When I tried to return from Thanksgiving, I found the drive from my northern Minnesotan home invigorating; my car mate from Duluth, Amanda, and I remarked frequently about how wonderful interstate was, and how even driving back through the Twin Cities was uneventful.
And then we got into Iowa.
The snow began to get thicker. The traffic began to slow down to a crawl, and cars began to appear in the ditches. We nearly slid off the road, and so I slowed to 30 miles an hour and didn’t dare inch my 2006 Dodge Stratus up another notch.
We were 140 miles outside of Des Moines.
The tension became so thick in the car that we had to find creative ways to break it. We began to scream obscenities at passing four-wheel drive pickup trucks and laugh maniacally when we saw one in the ditch. We quickly developed a hatred of bridges and voiced our opinions vociferously before laughing at our language. Then it was back to the reality of glaring ice and flashing hazard lights.
Four hours after we crossed the Iowa border, I had to hand over the car keys to Amanda because I was shaking so badly. She took over for another two hours before I felt well enough, and we finally inched into Des Moines after spending nearly 11 hours in a car together.
EVERYBODY has a story like that one — an event that was wrecked by hail or a home demolished by a tornado or a cell phone ruined by rain. We’ve all got our reasons to despise the great matriarch of meteorological conditions.
So why is it that we still love her?
I remember the first time I got up early and watched the sun rise — it was part of a sixth-grade three-day camping trip, and we had to get up at 4 a.m. and hike to the top of what seemed an impossibly high hill to a fat 12 year old with short legs. I stared at the horizon intently; I had not woken up at 3:30 in the morning just to be looking at some rock when the sun popped out. The skyline went from black to purple, through every shade. I squinted, cleaned my glasses, held up my camera; it occurred to me that I had never seen the start of a sunrise; that I may have, in fact, never bothered to look up.
Then that first jolt of light burst across, into my face, into my memory -- beautiful, fantastic, almost primal in its simplicity.
Mother Nature is cruel, but she works in mysterious ways. Her positive machinations inspire us while her disasters bind humanity together. Amanda and I, for example, are still friends; we have a shared bond of that horrendous trip down I-35 and still travel together. Mother Nature gives us memories of peril and of wonder; she reminds us that we are human and mortal, and that we are part of the cycle of life and death.
It’s the not-so-good times that make the good times seems wonderful in Mother Nature. Most of us, then, feel a fierce desire to protect her.
Mother Nature may be crazy, but she’s also compassionate.
In my following blog posts, I will be exploring some of the unique Iowan methods used to honor her, such as the use of wind turbines and ethanol developments. I also hope to look at the aftermath of the flooding that occurred last year in Cedar Rapids — what happened to all that garbage that was dragged out? Thanks for taking some time to learn about me and my opinions on Mother Nature.
Keep it green —
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