I believe in the power of nature. It’s power to create, destroy, and change the world, along with its power to change us. It can manipulate our schedules, actions, and emotions. Man has gained power over many things, but he could never gain control of nature. It is too awesome a power to be controlled, contained perhaps, but never completely controlled.
Our lives all revolve around the weather. It decides what time we will need to leave to get to work or school on time every morning. It influences what we wear, how we drive, and what we will do each day. If you turn on the television you can find half a dozen channels trying to predict what the weather will be like. Even how we feel can be influenced by the weather. If it’s raining someone might have a bad day, likewise if it’s warm and sunny, a person’s day could improve. Everyone has experienced weather that has amazed or shocked them in some way. I have had many experiences with the weather that have taught me to respect it, but at the same time enjoy it.
I remember when I went to Florida over the summer, soon after graduating high school, staying at a friend’s house. The house was on the coast, with a dock reaching out over the Gulf of Mexico. Every night my friends and I would all go out and fish off the dock, and every night there was a thunderstorm in the distance. There would always be ominous black clouds hovering far out over the water, threatening at any minute to turn at any gust of wind and come over and ruin our late night fishing. However the clouds would never move, just float in one spot until they dissipated. We would sit out every night watching and listening to them. The thunder sounded like it was tearing open the sky itself. The lightning produced a light show that only the greatest fireworks display could hope to even come close to. The tendrils of lightning would scatter across the dark sky trying to grab on to anything within reach. Each bolt lit up the surrounding area to look as bright at day time. The storm seemed like it wanted to provide contrast to the warm, clear evening where we were, by breaking the calm and silence. It was an astonishing sight to behold.
Another time when I saw nature in all of its glory was when I went camping in southern Kentucky in a place called Red River Gorge. The weather stations had predicted storms but my friends and I figured it was just some rain, no problem. Some rain was not all that nature had in store for us that night. By around 8:00 we had wind upwards of sixty miles per hour, making the rain come down nearly horizontally. Since our tents stood no chance in this, the owner of the campground allowed us to spend the night in his covered garage. Over the night we watched as nature unleashed its fury around us, breaking and uprooting trees, knocking down fence posts, carrying away anything it could get off the ground. The Red River itself doubled in depth and width over just a few hours, going from a calmly flowing river to raging rapids. It expanded past where we were originally going to put our tents for the night, but later decided against thankfully, engulfing anything on the ground around it. Sweeping away tree branches, rocks, and even the ground itself, the river ripped away huge chunks of loose earth and pounded them into dust, to be carried to some unknown location downstream. It was a harrowing experience but we managed to make it through the storm unscathed. The next morning we got to see the total extent of the damage. None of our tents were standing. They weren’t just toppled over; the metal rods supporting them had been bent and broken like twigs. The largest tent had been pulled from the ground, and we found it entangled in a tree a couple hundred feet away. The river had now receded back to within its normal boundaries. The ground around it now washed clean of any loose objects. This was only a small testament to what wind and water can do.
On the other side of the country, in Arizona, is one of the best examples of what wind and water can achieve over time, the Grand Canyon. The canyon is 277 miles long and over a mile deep. It was carved out by the Colorado River and wind over millions of years. It is hard to believe that water, something mild enough for us to drink, and wind, an unseen force made up of simply air, could erode away millions of tons of solid rock. Two things that normally seem harmless could create something so huge. It shows that the only difference between a gorge and a canyon is time.
Over time nature can change anything. Rainforests transform into deserts, plains to canyons, deserts become lakes. Mountains are pushed up towards the sky while the oceans get deeper. The climate of the earth is continually altered over time. Some areas are getting warmer, others cooler. The earth is dynamically changing all the time even though it may not be visible at a more local level all the time. The climate can even shift drastically over the course of a year in most places.
One such climate change was when it was cooling down in my hometown of Lexington Kentucky in 2003. It was right on the brink of freezing and we had what is referred to as an ice storm. Ice is not something that is often thought of as a destructive force. However in 2003 we learned how vicious ice can really be. It all started with a slight rain, which promptly froze when the water drops hit the ground, slowly building up a sheet of ice on everything. Each drop of rain added to the ice and the weight that was accumulating on everything. That extra weight was enough to bring down power lines, send tree limbs crashing through peoples’ roofs, making roads un-drivable. Over the next week, the air was filled with the sounds of trees and structures attempting to keep from collapsing on to whatever happened to be below them. I was looking out the back window when a power line gave way to the weight of the ice, and sent a brilliant shower of sparks cascading down onto the frozen grass below, before laying itself over top of a fence. Workers toiled to keep the roads clear of downed tree limbs and helped to extinguish fires caused by exposed power lines. The storm ended up putting some peoples’ power out for weeks and caused millions of dollars in damage.
Its experiences like these that teach us that nature can be beautiful, but at the same time extremely dangerous. Nature can either be a source of life for people on earth, or it can cause untold destruction to everything within its path. As people we need to respect the power of nature because it can do amazing things. We need to look upon nature, not with fear, but with caution and wonder. As long as humans exist our lives will revolve around nature and its effects on us, good or bad.