Slice of Life

Ma Nature can be such a jokester

ktanner@thetribunenews.comSeptember 26, 2013 

Kathe Tanner

Mother Nature has a truly bizarre sense of humor and timing.

For instance, on Friday, the Cambria Community Services District Board of Directors — faced with diminishing water levels in municipal wells — voted unanimously to tell its customers they could no longer use water from the tap to irrigate their prized petunias, lawns, vegetable gardens or other plantings.

Other restrictions already are in place and more could be ahead. Unless you’ve been living in a cave, there’s no real surprise there, but still. …

Want a dose of irony? The day after the district vote — just as scarecrow sculptors began setting up their hundreds of mostly non-waterproof displays for a monthlong festival — Ma Nature conjured up a surprise: A splash of rain.

Eeek! Scarecrow installers grabbed trash bags and covers to keep the drizzle off of their whimsical sculptures, which then looked like ghostly creatures draped in filmy shrouds of white, gray and dark green plastic.

By day’s end, the air was rinsed clean and the dust had settled, but our Top of the World rain gauge had captured a mere 0.09 inches of rain. It wasn’t enough to end the drought or dry spell, of course. Not even really a good drink for our parched gardens and yards.

There was, however, sufficient drizzle to thoroughly scruffy up the car I’d washed two days earlier and to add not-so-artistic streaks to our windows that Andy Loveless had so laboriously cleaned the previous Monday.

So that rain probably was our fault, folks. I do believe some human actions that are meant to be beneficial often produce unintended but predictably depressing results.

For instance, do I even allow myself to think about a flat tire? Nope. I’m getting nervous just keying in the phrase.

Stock up on pricey cold stuff? Seafood, steak and Häagen Dazs, maybe? Wait for it: The refrigerator compressor will go pfffffst, or there’ll be a loooonnnnggg power failure, triggering an instant block party.

You finally purchased that new computer or smartphone? Count on it, a replacement model will be released within the next week. It’ll be faster, smaller, lighter and less expensive, and probably come with hefty rebates. And if you order it by mail, it will be obsolete before it’s delivered.

You get the picture. Fates do conspire against us. And Mother Nature can be a real mean player in that cycle.

Why can’t she just be a nice mommy, balance out the rain and drought a bit? Maybe say in her sweet, Glinda-like voice, “A little rain here, a little shower over there. Ooops, no more for you right now, no, no! You’ve already had enough. Children, go and play. But mercy, it’s dry over there, so I’ll send a storm or two, but we’ll make the rainfall gentle so it will soak in, not run off.”

But no. I suspect instead that Ma’s fussing, fretting and mumbling swear phrases under her breezes … er … breath:

“Oh dear, oh dear! So much pollution in my oceans and my air … they’re burning all my oil when they could be using my wind instead … cutting down my trees, ruining my habitat, ignoring the warming of my climate. They’re even killing off some of my favorite creatures, the ones I love much more than mere humans. And all that trash! Wherever do they get so much? No, mankind hasn’t been very nice to me.”

She adds a Wicked Witch of the West cackle, “so why should I …”

Payback’s a son-of-a-gun, isn’t it?

Outlandish anthropomorphism? Maybe so. But maybe not.

Tribune and Cambrian reporter Kathe Tanner’s “Slice of Life” column appears biweekly. Read her tweets at @cambriareporter.

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