Despite the belief of my sister's neighbor, who is "kind of different," the United States government does not control the weather. All those jet trails that crisscross South Dakota's expansive skies really are not part of an elaborate weather-manipulating grid that is managed from a secret bunker hidden somewhere in the Rocky Mountains.
I find it reassuring that we haven't yet managed to control the weather. It's a reminder that, no matter how high-tech and sophisticated we humans may be, we and the planet we inhabit are still subject to powers greater than ourselves.
Somehow, though, this philosophical point of view wasn't much comfort on Wednesday afternoon as we stood in the doorway watching a hailstorm pulverize our garden. It poured rain (I'm sure I saw a couple of Chihuahuas and a Siamese in there somewhere) for almost half an hour, and it hailed steadily for ten to fifteen minutes.
We could have gone kayaking down our driveway or in the fast-moving miniature river that flowed around the corner of our neighbor's house and filled the gully that separates the two properties. By the time the storm was over, our yard was covered with an inch of hail. Much of the grass was still white the next morning, and on Friday morning one shady spot still held a drift of hail several inches deep.
Of course, half a dozen destroyed tomato plants and a few stripped chokecherry bushes doesn't exactly count as a major life event. We weren't watching the destruction of crops we depended on for our livelihood or even a garden we were counting on to feed a family. The minor pang of a lost garden isn't anywhere close to the heartsick discouragement of a farmer who sees hail or wind pound a year's potential income into oblivion.
Still, the storm made me wish, for just a moment, that my sister's neighbor was right. Then I had a truly terrifying thought.
Maybe he is.
Maybe the government really is controlling the weather. You have to admit it's a bit odd that just around the curve, not 100 yards north of our house, there was hardly any hail at all. A paranoid person might find the apparent targeting of our property more than a little suspicious.
Do you suppose somebody in that secret weather-control bunker knows I voted Libertarian in the last election?