Winter storms can strike anywhere, and there will always be forest fires. But last month's earthquake reminded us that just as there are regional differences in terms of cuisine or accents, so it is with natural disasters as well.
Hurricanes. Tornadoes. Earthquakes. Take your pick. Most of the country already has, and is either reconciled or acclimated to that choice. People in Kansas will say that they couldn't live in earthquake country and many of us simply state that we couldn't live in Kansas. Pick your location, pick your poison.
An old convention refers to the natural world as "Mother Nature" and these events are proof that she likes to rearrange things: an altered coastline, uprooted trees, and in the case of an earthquake, one more step in a lurching, incremental remodeling job that lasts for eons.
Hurricanes have life spans, and so we put a human face to them, giving them names. At their most massive they are an invading continent of clouds that roars in, teaching us that what we see as sturdy-brick and mortar, wood and nail-are no match for an alliance of wind and water.
Tornadoes display nature at its most arbitrary and random: an unscathed house sits right across the street from the wreckage of another. Anonymous and capricious, they demonstrate the power to be found by focusing just a fraction of the energy that surrounds us.