আপডেট: ফেব্রুয়ারি ২৫, ২০২০
NASHVILLE — In Mississippi, power was out for days. In Alabama, schools opened late because of torrential rains. In Tennessee, houses slid from their foundations and tumbled into the Tennessee River. In Kentucky, heavy rains triggered a rock slide that derailed a train carrying ethanol,
and the spilled fuel set the Big Sandy River on fire. All across the South this year, flooding has been nothing less than Shakespearean, even biblical, the kind of weather that comes from a human challenge to the divine order.
I don’t actually believe the Almighty dispenses weather to punish bad behavior, but if I did, I’d have a good idea whose behavior might have triggered it.
It rained here the day the Senate voted to acquit the president of the United States of wrongdoing even as many of them publicly admitted he had done wrong. It rained here the night the president pretended to be an environmentalist during the State of the Union address. It rained the morning he
turned the lovely, bipartisan National Prayer Breakfast into a partisan rant and when, later that day, he continued ranting in a profanity-laced news conference televised live from the East Room of the White House.
It didn’t rain the following day — the day the president fired Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a decorated Iraq war veteran on the National Security Council staff, for testifying in the House impeachment hearings — but it snowed very briefly, and then the snow melted into the swamp that has become the entire South this abysmally rainy winter.
By now it’s clear that there can be no more talk of draining the swamp. The literal waters are rising, and the president of the United States is a figurative one-man swamp of corruption.
Paying attention to what is happening in Washington is a form of self-torment so reality altering that it should be regulated as a Schedule IV drug. I pay attention because that’s what responsible people do, but I sometimes wonder how much longer I can continue to follow the national news and
not descend into a kind of despair that might as well be called madness. Already there are days when I’m one click away from becoming Lear on the heath, raging into the storm. There are days when it feels like the apocalypse is already here.
Except it isn’t, not really. Not yet. One day when the relentless rains let up for a bit, I went to the park an hour before sunset to walk on the muddy trails and take a break from the bad news. The woods were as lovely as they ever are after a rain: the creeks full of rushing water, the gray bark of the fallen trees slick with moss. Above the trail, the limbs of the living trees creaked in
ri wind, the kind of sound that makes your heart ache for reasons too far beyond words to explain. Though the forest understory is already beginning to green up, weeks too soon, the towhees scratching for insects stirring in what’s left of last fall’s leaves were not in any way sorry about the early arrival of spring.