Mother Nature has mind of her own

Years ago there was a commercial that said, “It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature” followed by a catastrophe. Actually, fooling Mother Nature is a fool’s errand — it can’t be done.

That’s why country people are inveterate weather watchers. I grew up in the drought times of the 1950s. When the earth was brown and dry and people were hiring airplanes to sprinkle dry ice in spindly clouds to make it rain, my cowboy dad said, “We’re not running this outfit. God is. He probably knows something we don’t — like maybe rain falling now might cause worse problems, like a zillion grasshoppers.”

Rain isn’t always gentle, either. A cotton farmer friend in west Texas sat in his pickup at the edge of a field watching and listening as a hailstorm destroyed his cotton crop and severely damaged his pickup. When we asked him what he planned for the next year’s growing season he said, with a lopsided grin, “I’m gonna plant as much cotton as I can.”

When we put water gaps across arroyos, Mother Nature is good at washing them away. We put them back up again. That’s just the way it is.

Sometimes (not often) we humans manage to come out even in our relationship with the natural world.

One summer a hailstorm hit our northeastern New Mexico area. It was one of those where the hailstones were golf ball size, the trees along the river were stripped of their leaves, house roofs were badly damaged. Every motor vehicle within a 20-mile radius that was out in the open got broken windshields, cracked headlights, bodies covered with dents.

I had a red 1957 Chevrolet. It got damaged. Some of my friends also had nifty vehicles. After the insurance adjusters finished their work (for those of us who had insurance) we began having a good time.

The insurance company gave us money and we were told to tend to the repairs ourselves. I only got the worst dents fixed, then spent the rest of the money on fender skirts, rear seat radio speakers, a power radio antenna, padding for the dashboard. What fun!

My friends’ vehicles also received snazzy fix-ups — except for Phillip. His car had been safely in the barn by his house during the storm, so it had no dents at all. He absolutely turned green as he watched us spend money recklessly on totally unnecessary — but insanely nifty — upgrades to our cars.

Phillip closely examined my car’s dents one afternoon. The next day he showed up with his car covered with dents much like mine.

His insurance adjuster pointed out that a bunch of dents all the same size was not typical hail damage. Poor Phillip had to drive that dented car for a long time.

Later, he admitted to me he’d found a ball-peen hammer and given his car the “hail damage” himself.

That experience taught us that once in awhile we can come close to getting even with Mother Nature, but it’s impossible for humans to reproduce her benefits (rain) or her calamities (hailstorms).