Don Williams
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Don Williams is a prize-winning columnist, blogger, fiction writer, sometime TV commentator, and is the founder and editor emeritus of New Millennium Writings, an annual anthology of stories, essays and poems. His awards include a National Endowment for the Humanities Journalism Fellowship at the University of Michigan, a Golden Presscard Award from Sigma Delta Chi Society of Professional Journalists, a best Commentary Award from SDC, Best Feature Writing from the Associated Press Tennessee Managing Editors, the Malcolm Law Journalism Prize from the Associated Press, Best Non-Deadline Reporting from the United Press International, Best Novel Excerpt from the Knoxville Writers Guild, a Peacemaker Award from the Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance, five Writer of the Month Awards from the Scripps Howard Newspaper chain, and many others. In 2011 he was inducted into the East Tennessee Writers Hall of Fame. His 2005 book of journalism, Heroes, Sheroes and Zeroes is under revision for a second printing, and he is at work on a novel and a book of journalism. His columns appear at and have been featured at many other well-known websites. To run his column, gratis, at your website, post this link to a dedicated spot: Need a speaker, panelist, tv commentator or teacher for your group or to lead a writing workshop, in your town? Email

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An Interview With Mother Nature, Fresh Off Chasing Away Bush
(Copyright by Don Williams, All rights reserved   05/06/2005)

Should we all wish you a happy Mother's Day, come Sunday, given that you're the ultimate mother?

I'll leave that to you, child. Some regard me as synonymous with Mother Earth, but she's actually my older sister. Do take care when personifying either of us. Certain fundamentalists don't take kindly to that practice in spite of their own tendency to personify deities. Take Yaweh, for example, a most disagreeable character.

So I've read.

Also, careful not to gild the lily. I'm not as sweet and gentle as I'm often depicted on Hallmark cards—all butterflies and bees, birds' nests and trees. I have my darker moments.

Speaking of which, did you really chase the President from the Smoky Mountains on Earth Day?

Well, that's been exaggerated I should say.

Really? An eyewitness told me the sky darkened and thunderbolts began flying, as if on command.

I did put on quite a show, now that you mention it, tried to make it look like the end of the world and all.

What made you so angry?

As many have said, recently, “You can't fool Mother Nature.” The Shrub was messing with me outrageously—trying to sugarcoat what the gang running things now has been doing to me.

Which is?

Where do I begin, Child? Chemicals are spoiling my circulation, bulldozers and dynamite are blemishing my skin. You're taxing my lungs in cutting down rainforests. You're ruining my figure with your mountaintop removal and so forth. I'm getting an outrageous sunburn since you've begun destroying the ozone layer. My animal critters are disappearing at a faster rate than anytime in the past 65 million years. I've been running a high temperature for decades, and all your litter is giving me an outrageous case of dandruff.

The last time we spoke you were discussing the differences between Democrats and Republicans when it came to your well-being.

Yes, one must acknowledge that, speaking historically, Republicans have done as much as Democrats to nurture me. Teddy Roosevelt's conservation practices were quite ground-breaking, so to speak, but it doesn't stop there. Richard Nixon was quite kind to me, save for defoliating certain regions of Southeast Asia. Most presidents since your much-maligned Jimmy Carter have ignored me. Mr. Reagan, ever so chivalrous to mortal women, was quite rude to me actually. Practically his first act was to take down the solar panels Jimmy had installed atop the White House. What a slap in the face. Clinton did scarcely better. Still, they all tower above the Shrub. Rather than rescuing or conserving my resources, his energy bill accelerates my sad fall by guiding billions of dollars to major oil companies who are selling me out like a street floozy.

What about your experiences in Tennessee?

I've seldom been so humiliated. The litter is atrocious. I'm not speaking merely of burger-wrappers and beer cans. I'm talking everything from car tires to refrigerators, from televisions to sofas in my creeks and hollows.

Yes, that is terrible.

Still, that's mostly cosmetic. The real horrors are in your choked air and polluted waters, your loss of habitat, your runaway road building, your urban sprawl, your nuclear industries, which could one day turn East Tennessee into the great destroyer of humankind. I'm relieved that defense plants appear to be turning away from using depleted uranium to make super-hardened missile casings, such as those employed in both Gulf wars. They tend to atomize on impact. Other progress has been made here and there, but not enough to offset so many insults.

Who's to blame?

Speaking generally, there's an arrogance at play--hinted at in some of your scriptures--that touts man's dominion over me. Some misinterpret that as a call for domination, if not the ruination of all that I am. But between you and me, it isn't going to happen.

Why not?

Let me put it this way, should I be compelled to shrug your species off one day it would be sad, but as I meant to suggest by my little demonstration two weeks ago, when you mess with Mother Nature you risk reaping the whirlwind.