Man vs. nature: The road to victory

Nature makes no mistakes, and that is humanity’s cross to bear.

We left for an impromptu drive through Lewis County on Saturday. We simply set out for a nifty-sounding place, Rainbow Falls State Park, after closing our eyes and pointing at the map.

Massive flooding ripped the area along the Chehalis River this past December. A sign posted almost halfway up a utility pole on Highway 6 marked the water’s highest level during the floods.

The front-page aerial photo from local newspaper The Chronicle came to mind: A man in a canoe, paddling past an Interstate 5 exit sign for Pe Ell.

I nearly drowned in the thought of all that water overhead as we drove along the two-lane highway.

In the river rested sections of crackled bridges and chunks of road. Barn rooftops wilted atop piles of rubble, while most houses gleamed with new paint.

At least eight people died in the disaster. News sources also reported on millions of dollars worth of damage. Volunteers and residents continue to clean up, while rising fuel prices only compound the costs.

We filled the gas tank with liquid gold at a stop in Pe Ell, a tiny town whose Texaco station profanely declared $4.22 a gallon.

Rural residents rack up more mileage while racing between nearby towns and jobs. City folks can at least fall back on public transportation if gas prices exceed what people are willing to pay. Mind you, rural drivers typically skip the Prius in favor of something with more muscle. That’s partly because of necessity, as a pumped-up Ford truck can potentially save people from nature-related jams — a far cry from a traffic-choked street.

On our trip through rural Washington, we cut up Highway 101. The logged patches of land repulsed us at first sight. Splintered stumps regularly interrupted the flow of trees. A faded sign by timber giant Weyerhaeuser marked several re-planted sections of forest, previously maimed for humanity’s sake.

The scene strayed from beautiful, but reminded us of a necessary evil.

This entire scenario, from flooding to gasoline to logging, points to one word: Damage. It’s what nature and man love to inflict upon each other, depending on whose point of view you take. Our newly-minted green mindset stems from saving money, but also from fearing Mother Nature’s wrath: She lurks around every corner like always, yet we feel she’ll spank us especially hard because we didn’t keep her house clean enough.

The green movement will not right any wrongs, but merely cushion the blows from an opponent certain to outlast us all.

Mirror editor Andy Hobbs: editor@fedwaymirror.com.

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