Tuesday, May 24, 2016

The Power of Nature

We had the first thunderstorm of summer last night.  The wind howled, the rain came down in sheets, lightning flashed, and thunder rumbled.  When I awoke in the morning, the clouds were gone, the streets were wet, and most everything was still as-is.  It was a storm, but it wasn’t a bad one.

Today, I mowed the lawn (once the summer sun had dried up most of the rain) and I found a baby bird in the grass, likely having fallen from his nest in the overnight storm.  The bird was still alive and seemed to be doing well — and a few adult birds watched me as I neared the baby, so I hope the parents knew it was there.  I worried about the bird, of whether I should try to put it back in its nest, but the nest was too high and if those adult birds were its parents, then it had mom and dad watching after it still.  While I had gotten through the storm just fine, my feathered friend had not done so well.

The storms here in central Canada have certainly worsened with climate change.  There have always been violent storms when I was growing up, but the frequency and severity of these storms has increased in the last ten years or so.

I still remember the first time I saw a storm so violent that it had snapped trees in half and torn others straight out of the ground.  It wasn’t a tornado — we don’t get them here — it was just a violent storm.  When I realized that entire trees had been knocked over, I had gotten on my bike and went on a ride through the neighbourhood, assessing the damage.

Nowadays, a snapped tree means nothing.  Just last summer, a tree across the street from my house cracked and then split in half during a summer storm.  A couple trees down the street had fallen over, destroying fences.  I drove past them, barely giving them a second glance.

I think it’s easy to ignore the awesome power of nature, especially when we are comfy and cosy in our houses and apartments.  We barely notice nature unless it does something unexpectedly destructive.  Right now, huge swaths of Alberta (a province here in Canada) are still in flames.  Forest fires are burning even closer to home, with several running rampant in my province of Manitoba.

But as I sit, comfy and secure in my house, I can’t help but think of that bird, of how one strong gust turned its world upside down.  That one gust could have even ended the bird’s life — I will check on it tomorrow to see how it’s doing, if it’s even still alive.

When a thunderstorm happens, I love turning off all the lights, opening the curtains, and watching the violence of wind and rain.  I love the sound of heavy drops pelting the roof and windows.  Sometimes the brutality of nature can make me worried, even when I’m safely in my house.  After all, houses are never completely safe — the wildfires in Fort McMurray, Alberta, make that clear.  The falling trees after a violent storm show just how close people are from getting hurt in a storm, even if they’re in their houses.

But even in the fearsome violence of nature, there is life.  Even now, in the charred remains of the forests of Alberta, insects are hard at work, creating new life in the devastation.  Pinecones have opened and will soon being the process of growing into trees.  Animals will soon return.  Even in nature’s darkest hour, there is still life and activity.  There is beauty in destruction.  There is life in the aftermath of the power of nature.

And the next time we have a violent thunderstorm here, I’ll put on a pot of tea and snuggle up with my lover as we watch nature put on its spectacle.  I will worry about the roof and the windows, about the possibility of hail or heavy rain causing damage, of me being like that baby bird — helpless in the face of nature’s power.  But I will also get a thrill from the brilliant flashes of lighting and the wall-shaking rumble of thunder.  I’ll snuggle up close to my lover and we’ll cuddle.  Like the insects in the forest fires of Fort McMurray, my lover and I will be a spot of life and calm in a sea of nature’s chaos.



Cameron D. James is a writer of gay erotica and M/M erotic romance; his latest release is Seduced by My Best Friend’s Dad (co-written with Sandra Claire). He lives in Canada, is always crushing on Starbucks baristas, and has two rescue cats. To learn more about Cameron, visit http://www.camerondjames.com.

16 comments:

  1. What a heartfelt and moving post, Cameron. Well done.

    Could the Earth be fighting back? Rejecting a rampant cancer masquerading as a dominant species.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Earth could very well be fighting back -- or it could be that Earth simply doesn't recognize our self-imposed dominion over this planet. Nature is nature and will do what it wants, despite the best efforts of humanity to do otherwise. :)

      Delete
  2. The persistence of life after destruction is awe-inspiring. I visited Mt. St. Helens a year or so after it erupted, about the time they opened a crushed-cinder road to the top and allowed tourists to drive there. There were just a few signs of reviving life, but mostly the upper areas were barren. Now I see photos of luxuriant forest growth there. It's true, as you say, Cameron, that for some plants and animals periodic fires are a spur to new growth. Some plants like blueberry bushes move right into burned-over areas and thrive until other things like pine trees grow tall and crowd them out.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sometimes I wonder if our efforts to prevent natural disasters only end up making things worse. The burning and rebirthing of forests is a natural part of nature's cycle. Yet, anytime there's a forest fire, humanity interferes and tries to stop it as quickly as possible. Yes, stopping it will potentially save lives and humanity's infrastructure, but if we're too aggressive in stopping forest fires, we prevent old trees from burning to ash and creating fertile ground for new growth. Of course, it's not that simple, it never is -- some of these forest fires are started by human error (or human intention in some cases) and is not actually a part of a forest's natural cycle -- though the forest will always recover.

      Delete
  3. A lovely post, Cameron. I'm not sure I remembered you were Canadian. (Hopefully we all do know Alberta is a Canadian province...!)

    One thing about storms and other natural convulsions--they remind us how small we really are, how little we matter in the grand scheme of things. In a way I find that encouraging. We could disappear, but the world would heal itself and continue.

    Of course, we've done our share of inflicting damage. But we're just a blip in the life of the planet.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. ;) Maybe I should say "eh" more often and apologize online as frequently as I do in person. (This is not a sarcastic comment! I do say "eh" and "sorry" a lot! I don't say "no doot aboot it" though...)

      And, yup, nature just goes on. The burned out forests of Alberta will recover as part of their natural cycle. But the people who lived there will take far longer to fully recover -- and in some cases may never recover. The world will always go on, but humanity probably won't.

      Delete
  4. Cameron, that is a moving post. And the little videos some of my Facebook friends posted of the Fort McMurray fire are truly scary. There have also been wildfires here in the province of Saskatchewan (east of Alberta, west of Manitoba). Luckily, it's been raining here for a few days, which should help. Too much rain and wind can be destructive too, but at least water counteracts fire. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I didn't realize you were so close to me!

      And, yup, too much rain can be a bad thing too -- after all, I live in Winnipeg, which is at risk of flooding almost every year.

      Delete
    2. ...although that's technically from melting snow...

      Delete
  5. We raised our kids to believe, as we do, that there's nothing as soothing as the sound of raindrops on the tent over your head, or the fabric of our pop-up camper. We all love that sound. Now mind you, we've all been camping in places where the storms were so sudden and so severe, that we were evacuated, either to a brick "common" building, like a visitor's center; or we were told once to head down to the beach and lie down in the sand, to hope for the best. Wild storms, hail, and possible tornadoes are frightening even when you're safe in your house. When in a campground in a forest, in the middle of nowhere, they're twice as terrifying. But we all still love camping...and listening to the sound of raindrops overhead.

    BTW, we've never had the time to make it all the way up to Canada, though we've often headed up to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area of northern Minnesota. In fact we'll be spending a week up there this summer again. I joke that we're so far north up there, that if we canoe into a lake and spit, it'll probably land in Canadian waters. Only husband has a passport, so we're careful not to go too far north. We plan to explore our neighbor to the north someday. I hear the camping up there can be gorgeous.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm definitely not the best person to comment on camping -- I'm a city boy through and through. However, I've been told that camping in Banff National Park is amazing -- you're on the side of a mountain and you wake up to the most amazing view every morning.

      Delete
  6. And for those who want to enjoy the tourist attractions of Banff, Alberta, without roughing it at all, there is the Banff Springs Hotel, one of a series of Canadian Railway Hotels built in the early 20th century, all with distinct 19th-century architecture and lots of old-fashioned service and fine dining. My dream trip would be to travel across Canada, staying in these hotels from coast to coast. Here in Saskatchewan, there are 2 large towns or small cities, Regina and Saskatoon, each with a railway hotel (the Bessborough in Saskatoon, the Hotel Saskatchewan in Regina). I'm sure there is one in Winnipeg. These places serve as temporary royal residences whenever a member of the royal family comes to visit. (I believe the local Hotel Sask has a royal suite.)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That sounds like a dream vacation for me.

      Delete
    2. Hmm... my guess would be the Fort Garry Hotel -- across the street from the railway station and about as old. It's the most expensive hotel in the city.

      Delete
  7. "I will worry about the roof and the windows, about the possibility of hail or heavy rain causing damage, of me being like that baby bird — helpless in the face of nature’s power. But I will also get a thrill from the brilliant flashes of lighting and the wall-shaking rumble of thunder."

    Wow, Cameron. Absolutely gorgeous writing.

    ReplyDelete