The Bored God of Hurricanes
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Today, on the first anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, we have the dubious pleasure of interviewing another bored god. Please give a panicked and traumatized welcome to Huracan, bored god of hurricanes to the ancient Mesoamerican people.
Anne: Well, I guess we now know where the word "hurricane" comes from.
Huracan: Just like possum, raccoon, Potomac, and cocoa. Whenever Europeans didn't have a name for something in the New World, they asked the aboriginal praise and worship teams. Then the Europeans went ahead and spelled the names any old way. You should just see some of the old spellings of "raccoon."
Anne: Huracan, you're one of the most destructive gods at work on the planet. Doesn't that bother you?
Huracan: Of course it does! And I'll quickly add, lest you get all pompous about your species, I've been dissatisfied with my working conditions since long before Homo sapiens came to feel my wrath. Do you think it's any fun killing Florida panthers and Carolina parakeets and passenger pigeons and ghost orchids?
Anne: As long as I'm getting pompous, I'll point out that you've wreaked havoc in Appalachia plenty of times. Hurricane Agnes of 1972 comes to mind. And Hurricane Floyd.
Huracan: Lots of water coming from the sky and falling onto sloping surfaces. Yeah, flash floods. They weren't as bad until your species came along and cut down all the trees.
Anne: Point taken. So, Huracan, if gods are all-powerful, how come you are allowed to pack such a punch and cause so much pain? Can't you just stand up to your superiors and tell them to stuff it?
Huracan: Alas, no. Can Prometheus call off that bird that eats his guts every day?
Anne: Then what can we do to appease you?
Huracan: I'll tell you what doesn't work. Throwing gold and virgins into the ocean. Some praise and worship teams have tried that.
Anne: Eeeeesh. Pass.
Huracan: Know what else doesn't work?
Anne: I'm guessing the efforts of the Army Corps of Engineers to build bulwarks against your might?
Huracan: Absolutely correct. Sky Woman created barrier islands with high dunes along the Atlantic coast to protect the inland from hurricanes. She created the swampy, mosquito-infested, perennially flooded Mississippi delta to suck up as much excess water as possible. So what do humans do? They get cocky, pull down the dunes and build casinos. Erect levies and dig canals. Frankly, it makes about as much sense as the virgins and gold.
Anne: So you're saying there are parts of America where nothing should be built at all, like the Florida Keys, the Everglades, the Gulf Coast, and the barrier islands? Wow. That's stretching it even for a tree-hugger like me. Where would all the people live?
Huracan: You asked me how to blunt the force of my wrath. I create hurricanes. I'm not an urban planner.
Anne: I'm afraid to ask about your future.
Huracan: As well you should be, my pretty. The soup I'm stirring seems to be getting warmer all the time. It's getting easier and easier to craft big ones and launch them. I don't feel good about it. But I can't think for the human race. You've got to get smart yourselves about what you can and can't control. When I get up a good head of steam, no man-made levy's gonna hold up. Sorry, but that's the way it is.
Anne: So you're saying it's the will of God when these disasters happen.
Huracan: I'm not saying that at all. For the love of manatees! It's not the will of God. It's the whim of the weather. I work with the raw materials I'm given, and send the product on down the line. What happens in the aftermath depends on how your species handles it.
Anne: We don't generally handle it too well.
Huracan: Neither did the Aztecs, if it's any consolation.
Anne: Huracan, it's been interesting talking to you, but given the fact that I'm only 50 miles from the Atlantic coast, and the last time you dropped by you pulled up trees and shut down the main street of my town for a week, I'm going to say I hope I don't see you soon.
Huracan: If your people could turn down the temperature under the Atlantic soup, I might have to struggle more to whip up big ones.
Anne: I don't have much confidence that the Army Corps of Engineers will figure out how to do that.
THE MERLIN OF BERKELEY SPRINGS