I sit in our front-yard gazebo and watch night turn into dawn, sipping coffee and listening to the surrounding sounds of birds, bugs and whatever. Chewy, the puppy who is all-too-quickly growing into dog, searches the two-acre front yard to just the right place to deposit her morning’s offerings.

Nature has a way of giving those of us who get lost in our own self-importance some much-needed humility. Nature goes on, despite our best efforts to interrupt its flow and balance. We keep animals as pets yet those same animals are better equipped to deal with nature than we.

Over on Goose Creek, my friend Fred First frets about the growing threat of a bird flu pandemic that he feels could wipe out about 50 percent of an unprepared human population. I tease him about it, saying he should put on a tri-cornered hat, grab a lantern and ride a horse through the county shouting “the flu birds are coming, the flu birds are coming,” but Fred is a biologist who understands this stuff better than I. As AIDS proved over the last 30 years, all the humans and all the medical science in the world can lose out in a war against the tiniest germ or virus.

That theme surfaced this year in director Steven Spielberg’s remake of H.G. Wells’ classic sci-fi horror tale War of the Worlds where an invading aliens handily defeat the armies of the world before falling prey to germs that we, over centuries, had built up immunity against.

As humans who, incorrectly, feel superior to other species inhabiting this earth, we view threats most often from other humans. Presidents may spend billions fighting a war on terror but government funding to find a cure for AIDS still calls far short of needs. The Department of Homeland Security wants all of us to stock up on duct tape and canned food but will the Center for Disease Control have enough flu vaccine on hand to immunize Americans this year?

I sip my coffee and watch the day emerge. The cool, crisp air is clear, another triumph of nature who, somehow, manages to overcome our attempts to clog it with hydrocarbons and other lung-choking crud.

Chewy yelps as a bug she chases turns and fights back, inflicting a sting that sends her scampering back to the gazebo so the human can protect her from the big, bad bug.

I laugh. Nature wins again. She usually does. And, in the end, she will have the last laugh.