Inexplicably, the birdhouse -- with itty bitty eggs in a full, cozy nest -- has been abandoned. A. and I are truly befuddled. The male sparrow always kept an eye on us when we were doingyardwork in the front, but he didn't seem anxious. We all cohabited in the front yard for weeks, each minding our own business. Why did they leave? Did a
I know I am secretly worried that our activities around the birdhouse may have driven them off,and I have a hunch A. feels the same way. Randomly, while in the middle of a project, A. will pause, look up and ask aloud: "I wonder why they left? I really wish I knew." I feel tremendously guilty that my insistence on living so close to that birdhouse drove them away. I know this reaction is a tad ridiculous and a bit melodramatic, but it is how I feel.
I feel the same way -- that my insistence on living the particular way I do on this land and in this landscape has destructive consequences on our non-human neighbors -- every single time I see a dead (or, worse, injured) animal on the side of the road. My insistence that there be a road right here, right now, and that I have unlimited access to a vehicle that can (should?) travel upwards of 70 miles per hour endangers these non-human neighbors who are simply trying to live. They aren't asking for much. They are trying to find food, water, care for their young. They generally respect our space though we don't return the courtesy.
Does the highway I travel to town have to be right here? Right in the path of that mama and baby fox? That antelope? Raccoon? Badger? Snake? Isn't there a better way?
Frequently, sometimes daily, I experience this crisis of a lack of imagination and guilt. There has to be a better way for all of us to live together.
(Personally and on a super nerdy note: I think overcoming the bifurcated paradigm of Us/Them is the place to start, but that is kind of a Big Thought. I my mind is wee little. So, that's all I have to say about that.)
A. takes this even further, or at least, differently. (I think. This is what I understand him to think and feel and I am (foolishly?) carrying on with sharing it anyway. I know I won't do so with the eloquence or subtly his thoughts require, but here I am - typing away anyway. Maybe I'll ask him to guest post about his thoughts, but I don't think he will go for it.)
My understanding is that A. does not think that when it comes down to the right to life of a human or an animal that the human automatically trumps the animal. Think that through for a bit, follow this train of thought through to some of the logical extensions and you will start to understand the daily quandaries and struggles A. finds himself in. At times, with every detail of our daily lives. I don't say that with sarcasism. I say that with awe and respect. The philosophic battles can be mighty, indeed. It also gives some insight into just how seriously and carefully he takes hunting. It is not a carefree jaunt in the woods for this man.
(Also, how thoughtful, generous and just all-around-amazing is this guy? Holy hell, I love him. Also, he not a brooding party-pooper. He is a helluva lot of fun to be around. No, really!)
A few weeks ago, A. drove by a female antelope that had been seriously wounded by a vehicle not long before A. passed her. He called me after he had pulled her off the road. He didn't have anything with him to take her out of her misery (which, though the compassionate thing to do, I think it is illegal). He was very upset. (A. doesn't get hysterical or anything, but you can just tell when he is upset. It is gut-wrenching.) He said she was hurt, frightened and screaming. It was him relaying to me that she was screaming that stuck. That he was there, wanting nothing more than to help her, hearing her scream. God. I have real, full tears in my eyes as I type this.
He was on his way to a class and couldn't stay any longer and he was going to be out of cell phone range within a mile or two. He asked me to contact the highway patrol or game and fish department so they could come help her (kill her). He gave me his location with the mile marker and highway.
I made the call. The highway patrol contacted the area's Game and Fish warden and they tended to her immediately.
It took days for A. to come back from that strange, distant funk he gets in when he encounters something like that. In his words, "It is one of those things that never leaves you, you know? I'll just always carry that with me."
I carry all of this with me when I gaze through my kitchen window, out on the silent birdhouse.