These days we're made to fear so much. First it was fear of terrorism in general. Then it was the fear of terrorists with box cutters. Then terrorists with box cutters and dirty bombs. And then terrorists with box cutters and dirty bombs and anthrax. Now we're back to terrorism in general. Damn terrorists!
But our daily dose of fear doesn't end with the terrorists. There's the fear that gasoline prices will reach $4 ... $5 ... $6 a gallon or more. There's the fear that interest rates will go sky high. The fear that widespread inflation will return. The fear that the guy coughing across the aisle on your flight to Cleveland is carrying TB. The fear that global warming will alter the world climate. And of course, the fear that an asteroid will strike the earth, wiping out everything except the cockroaches and the horseshoe crabs and the Loch Ness Monster.
Now our fears have spread to the food supply. There's the fear of eating bad meat from a mad cow. Or the fear of getting a bad head of lettuce. Or a bad can of dog food. Or a bad jar of peanut butter. And there's always the fear of red tide tainting the shellfish. It causes one to question if tree bark is still safe to eat? I think that's all that's left, tree bark and perhaps the odd pinecone from time to time ... although they are a little dry ... you might want to wash it down with a gallon of water.
And what of the water? There's always the lurking fear that the water supply will go bad. Any manner of bacteria can get into the local reservoir or aquifer. Heck, the water supply could even be poisoned by terrorists. Oh great, now we've come full circle back to terrorism again! Damn terrorists!
But you don't need to look to gasoline prices, or global warming, or mad cows, or red tide, or the aquifer to receive your daily rationing of fear. Nowadays, all you need do is simply turn on the TV and watch the local weather forecast. In fact, in the spectrum of fearful things -- from an asteroid hitting the earth to eating a bad peanut butter and fluff sandwich -- I admit that I fear weather the most.
These days we are made to fear the weather. We seem to constantly hear about floods in one part of the country and wildfires due to lack of rain in another part. Tornados seem to be everywhere ... and golf ball size hail, and lightning strikes, and there's always the fear of a Category 5 hurricane. Good God, weather was never this crazy when I was a kid. Could it be that the End of Days has finally arrived and that we are currently living during the time of the Apocalypse as foretold in the Book of Revelations? Is it true that the Four Horsemen are saddling up? God, I hope so!
Even on a crystal clear day we are led to believe that at any moment some form of meteorological death could rain down from the skies upon our eggshell heads. It's enough to make me remain indoors permanently ... but then again, how would I get my daily supplement of tree bark?! It's a tough decision, die of starvation or die from a lightning strike. (I think I'd choose death by peanut butter and fluff myself!)
I know what you're saying - "Jack, get a grip, it's not that bad."
My rebuttal to that line of thinking would be a resounding, "Oh, yeah!!"
To back up my argument, I ask you to watch the local weather forecast some evening. Pay attention to the buzzwords they use. The forecast may be bright and sunny, with only a 30% chance of rain near the end of the week, but you'll receive that weather report from the meteorologists of "Storm Team 5" (Channel 5 - WCVB) as if at any moment a surprise hurricane could pounce upon us. Channel 6 out of Rhode Island (WLNE) uses the term "Storm Tracker" for their weather. Meanwhile, Channel 7 (WHDH) uses "Storm Scan." I wonder what's better in times of inclement weather, a "storm tracker" or a "storm scan"? (Personally, I prefer an umbrella.)
So here I sit at the keyboard, gazing out a westward facing window in the direction of Kelleys Bay, watching the clouds rolling in from the north. They're gray clouds ... holding torrents of rain, no doubt. Or perhaps golf ball size hail. Or perhaps even a tornado or two. And one can never rule out a rogue* hurricane suddenly forming over Follins Pond.
Gee, all this sky watching has made me hungry. I wonder if it's safe to run outside for a pinecone or two?!
*PS: A "rogue" hurricane is a mischievous, destructive storm, while a "rouge" hurricane is one reddish in color, most likely due to a buildup of ferric oxide. (Damn spell check!)