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Nature ... tooth and claw


“The world is mud-luscious ... puddle-wonderful.”

e.e. cummings

The untamed sea let loose by the storm, even at low tide, crashed


with a thunderous roar as I walked the shore this week. Wild,

exhilarating wind whipped at my face. Muddy water sluiced over the

cliffs and ran into the sea. Scurrying sandpiper feet stitched the

smooth wet sand in quilt-like patterns even as the larger shorebirds


sat patiently faced south into the wind, smoothing ruffled feathers.

Two adult Brown Pelicans, their brown hind-necks bristling in the

wind, stood sentinel over mussel-encrusted rocks. They looked almost

haughty in their stance -- a far cry from the usual image of the

sometimes comical pelican. Aloof, they seemed not even to notice the

loud, foraging gulls nearby.

As storms continued to lash at all of Southern California, it

seemed somewhat haughty and aloof of me to revel in this weather. It


appeared somewhat crass to so thoroughly enjoy its wild tempo, to not

get caught up in knowledge of its destructive path. Yet I could not

help myself. In spite of the havoc caused by flooded freeways and

streets, landslides, and mud and water rushing through homes, I must

admit to being invigorated by the unleashed chaos.

Picture a bucolic nature with its calm pastoral settings and the

sense that all’s right with the world. This is what usually comes to

mind when someone says they love nature. I love nature. And while


there is much in the riot of color in spring’s flowers to endear

nature to all of our hearts, mine included, I love and honor the

other, violent side of nature as well.

When I leave the beach, bedraggled, wet, and waif-like, looking as

if I might have been plucked from the sea itself, I am beaming.

Filled with the glories of this wild nature, I can almost feel the

roar of the storm echoing powerfully within me. Amid all the chaos of

tornado watch and rushing mud, I cannot help but feel buoyant.

Often it seems that the greatest creative events come from the

chaos. And so, I suppose that this is why at these times of storm,

with torrential rains, funnel clouds, driving winds, thunder and

lightning, I feel so alive. It is as if something in me knows that

the unleashed power and beauty of the storm portends some unleashing

of creative energy. The passionate gusts of wind drive mixed rain and

sea-spray into my face with a sting that almost hurts and yet feels

invigorating and “right.”

Back home again from another “walk on the wild side” today, I am

cozy and warm in my aerie. Wind-driven rain lashes at the windows,

pelts the rooftop. As I look down the canyon to the sea I feel

removed and distant from the life of the turbulence. I have a

glorious view of the storm in full bloom, but something in me still

longs to be out in the fury itself.

When, later, the sun breaks through a light blue window in the

cloud cover out over the sea, it creates a shimmering silver ribbon,

a highway of light across the horizon. For the moment, the gnawing

wind and rain have stopped and the storm-beaten land rests. In this

brief respite, I can see how fresh and clear all will seem once the

last gray clouds spend themselves, washing clear the sky. The roar of

the pounding rain and surf, the thunder and lightning, the muddy

runoff will all subside, to be followed by a healing newness to


I am not without empathy for those suffering losses in the winter

storm. I hope they all can find some way to create anew out of the

chaos. And, while I am in love with this tempestuous weather, I can

well understand that others are not. As I write this I can hear one

group of these latter busily at work in the canyon. Chainsaws grind

loudly, accompanied by loud whistles and shouts as the city’s workers

strive to keep our roads clear. I thank them for this and wish them

all safe passage through their days.

Impressive and awesome to me, scary for others, the weather is

still just what it is -- the chaos of nature. For me, I’m off to pump

out the basement -- my own small bit of the chaos.

“Calms like sleep come upon landscapes, just as they do on people

and trees, and storms awaken them in the same way.” -- John Muir

* CHERRIL DOTY is a creative life coach and artist in love with

exploring the mysteries of life. You can reach her by e-mail at or by calling (949) 251-3883.