Sunday, May 19, 1996
Memo to Ms. Nature: We surrender

BY LAURA PULFER
The Cincinnati Enquirer

We have really done it this time. She's thoroughly honked off, and we are paying the price. I'm speaking, of course, about Mother Nature, who appears to be bitterly angry. This seems more than just a bad mood, something bigger.

I think we're being punished.

Admittedly, I know less than nothing about global warming and cooling trends and barometric pressure and the ozone layer and Dopplers and storm systems and the greenhouse effect.

That is why God created men in bad sports coats with pointers and weather maps.

The only thing I know for sure is that I surrender. I give up. Unconditionally. Unilaterally. Without honor. Especially without honor.

What does she expect?

Does Mother Nature want us to save the Rain Forest? Does she think I'm using too much hairspray? Should I be driving a smaller car? Using less gasoline? Taking the bus? Carpooling?

Should I be giving more money to the Save the Snow Leopard Fund? Is there a whale out there I should be saving?

Should I chain myself to the bulldozer next time a developer starts taking out trees? How about snail darters? Do you suppose she's happy with the way that turned out?

Maybe I should nag my neighbors about recycling? Or pesticides? Whatever it is, I'll do it.

Because I'm sick of fighting.

Last winter was bad enough. Cold. Snow. More cold. More snow. Schools were canceled, meetings postponed. The power went out. Pipes froze. Roofs leaked. Some of them collapsed.

Interstate 75 was like a bumper car caravan. Potholes on Columbia Parkway sent hubcaps flying to Westwood.

Kentucky Gov. Paul Patton declared a state of emergency.

"If you've got those long underwear," said Diane Innes, meteorologist for the National Weather Service at Wilmington, in January, "now is the time to drag them out." Ha. Ha.

And, naturally, all of us did what one does during a snow emergency. We ran out and bought bread.

But at least we could look forward to spring. Tornadoes and record high winds.

Now it's rain. More rain. Roofs are leaking. Basements are flooded. It was the soggiest April on recond, followed by a May that has set everybody's teeth on edge. We've gotten more than 6 inches of rain, and we're only a little more than halfway through the month.

I'm not positive, but I think that I am growing moss on my south side. I know that my front yard is a bog and the backyard is probably going to be a mosquito ranch.

"We're more than 10 inches above normal (for the year) now," said Jeff Dobur, National Weather Service student trainee. "That's just horrific." At least the weather service has stopped making jokes.

This is not funny anymore. Sewers are clogged. Mud slides have closed streets and roads from Harrison to Anderson Township. Adams and Scioto counties have been declared state disaster areas.

How can we make up?

Racehorses were evacuated from River Downs. The Boy Scouts had to postpone their jamboree. Covington Landing was turning away diners who couldn't get up the gangplank.

When our food, our gambling and our Boy Scouts are at risk, it seems clear that something must be done.

How can we make it up to you, Mother Nature? Or would you prefer Ms. Nature? Your weathership? Queen of the Clouds? Princess of Precipitation? Ruler of the Rain? Chancellor of the low pressure system? How can we make amends? Whatever it is, we'll do it.

Otherwise, I think we all know what we can expect. Heat. More heat. Record heat. Heat with humidity. Sticky. One continuous bad hair day. Wet socks. Mildew. Great big bills for air conditioning. Cranky babies. Cranky adults.

Let's do it. Let's make peace. We have nothing left to lose but our planet.

Laura Pulfer's column appears in The Enquirer Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. Call 768-8393 or fax at 768-8340. She can be heard Monday mornings on WVXU-FM (91.7 MHz) and as a regular commentator on National Public Radio's Morning Edition.