Insulting the Pacific

January 22, 2012

In what appears to be a seasonal rite the Pacific Ocean once again is responding to insults hurled at its salty and bountiful self in the previous months by folk who annually forget that the Pacific has a long and vengeful memory. The Pacific takes its revenge on all of us unilaterally without regard for the relative or complete innocence of some who must suffer with the guilty. It is easy for the Pacific to hurl small parts of its volume into Oregon at any interval and any velocity it prefers, to flood, harass and generally disrupt the smooth flow of life. To which insults irresponsibly delivered by which individual we shall never know. Perhaps we should blame TV meteorologists, whose daft, hyperbolic and fearful response to a two millimeter change in barometric pressure five hundred miles to the west of our coast may have caught the attention of our neighboring giant.  Or, perhaps those noisy and rude young men in their F-Whatever fighter planes roaring up and down the coastline at and above the speed of sound before returning for lunch at the Air National Guard base at Portland Airport should be more careful. But more likely it is ourselves in our daily groans and gripes, our poorly educated response to nature and the reality of our slender tenure on this land, our arrogance and assumptions that we control anything that might just irritate the ocean upon which we utterly depend for our lives.

So we should take care to regulate our impudence. We should take care not to enrage our ocean any more than is necessary for life to survive in the Pacific NW.  We should take its angry aqueous caress in our stride, on a glistening metaphorical chin, less we become as unlucky as an earlier civilization that once flourished far to the south of us. A civilization that did not take heed, insulted its ocean daily, fervently, and perforce paid the price of becoming the minuscule population of a once fertile land, now called the Atacama Desert. Yes, finally the ocean returned the accumulated insults completely, and ignored that land entirely and forever, and yet laps its coast mockingly.

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