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Donna Barker

A healthy respect for Mother Nature

Alex Trebek, host of the Jeopardy television game show, once said “If you can’t be in awe of Mother Nature, there’s something wrong with you.”

But sometimes I think it’s easier to appreciate Mother Nature when you’re a kid.

I remember those days, long ago, when I was a girl growing up in Tiskilwa, how I marveled at the beauty and power of what I would call Mother Nature. Each winter, it seemed like we got several feet of snow and could always count on snow days from school. I loved those blizzard-like days.

I also remember being fascinated by thunderstorms and lightning, by the pounding rain of spring and summer. I remember the excitement and challenge of living life without electricity when a power outage occurred. One year, I remember standing in my upstairs bedroom and watching the great flood waters coming down our hillside road.

Though not understanding it at all, I remember being amazed at the power and force of Mother Nature.

As an adult, I still enjoy watching Mother Nature flex her muscles, but I’m so much more aware of the hardships which can come with that show of force.

I now think about the expense of keeping furnaces running during bitterly cold winters, of trying to maneuver a car on ice-covered roads, of taxpayer expense for plowing roads. I think about potential problems and expense caused by power outages.

About three hours into last week’s 12-hour power outage in my hometown, I started to think about the cost of replacing the food in the refrigerator and freezer, if necessary. I thought about potential flooded basements. I thought about the physical discomfort of having a house that was too muggy and too hot.

But even with those more “grown-up” considerations, I still have a bit of child within me and couldn’t help but think about that spirit of determination and strength that we all tend to display as we rise up to meet the challenges that are brought to us, whether by the weather, Mother Nature or whomever.

For my husband and me, rising up to meet the challenge of last week’s power outage meant getting up every hour on the hour to fill our gas-operated generator that kept our sump pump going and our basement dry. We hadn’t been up every hour on the hour for a long time … basically since never.

But even then, my husband looked on the bright side of things. Not only were we thankful to have that generator to protect our basement and belongings, but getting up every hour through the night reminded him of when our kids were babies and we were up all night with them. Somehow just remembering those precious days with babies made last week’s overnight challenge a little bit lighter for me.

In retrospect, I think it’s probably good every once in a while to not just appreciate the beauty of nature, but also to respect its power over us. We may think we are very much in control of our lives, and we are in many ways, but we still have to take notice and remember we aren’t in control of Mother Nature.

And that can be an awe-inspiring thought.

Shaw Media Staff Writer Donna Barker can be reached at dbarker@bcrnews.com.