Ophelia and Arabeth

It’s always a delight when friends get together and dine.

Arabeth, one of our more recent foxen, recently graced us by accepting our dinner invitation. She was shortly joined by Ophelia, one of our longtime resident opossum.

It’s wonderful (and wise) that two such different beasties commingle so easily.… Read the rest

It’s always a delight when friends get together and dine.

Arabeth, one of our more recent foxen, recently graced us by accepting our dinner invitation. She was shortly joined by Ophelia, one of our longtime resident opossum.

It’s wonderful (and wise) that two such different beasties commingle so easily.

You’ll notice Arabeth’s concern isn’t Ophelia, it is us.

Humans, you know…

I’ve lived among them many years. Years longer than an individual fox or opossum could. I still don’t understand them.

Given a full table, given more food than they could comfortable eat, some humans will keep others away, forcefully if need be. They won’t even offer the remains to those who are recognizably hungry.

A table so full you can’t possibly eat it all, so plentiful you have no need to store it, and you won’t share?

No wonder The Old Ones are cautious.

 

Violetta and Chrysanthe

In the dark of night

As the moon rises

As the birds quiet

When only the owls

are heard discussing

the day’s events,

In the silence that ensues

The Old Ones come

To remind us

They were here before us

And they will be here after

Read the rest

In the dark of night

As the moon rises

As the birds quiet

When only the owls

are heard discussing

the day’s events,

In the silence that ensues

The Old Ones come

To remind us

They were here before us

And they will be here after

Nothing Ever Dies of Old Age in The Wild

I’m sitting on my backporch working. When the warmer weather hits, this is where I spend most of my time. I can see the woods behind our house, feel the sun on my bones, watch the bluejays, robins, orioles, cardinals, hummingbirds, nuthatches, morning doves, pigeons, squirrels, chipmunks and other assorted backyard denizens at the birdbaths, feeders and water buckets we leave out for those I call The Old Ones.… Read the rest

I’m sitting on my backporch working. When the warmer weather hits, this is where I spend most of my time. I can see the woods behind our house, feel the sun on my bones, watch the bluejays, robins, orioles, cardinals, hummingbirds, nuthatches, morning doves, pigeons, squirrels, chipmunks and other assorted backyard denizens at the birdbaths, feeders and water buckets we leave out for those I call The Old Ones.

I call animals The Old Ones because of my time studying anthropology. All the aboriginal peoples I’ve studied have views of wildlife that differ from those of most modern people and aboriginal views have rubbed off on me. Case in point, I’ve made friends with several generations of raccoons, turkeys, deer, skunks, opossum, woodchucks, beavers, fox and owl over the years. You can see many of them under WildLife.

Even with the animals I’m friendly with, I still know they are wild. Many take food from my hand but none of them are tame, none are domesticated. They are wild.

One of the rules of The Wild is that nothing dies of old age in The Wild. It just doesn’t happen. Animals grow old, grow tired, can’t move as quickly, can’t move as well, get injured, can’t get at whatever seed or bread or foodstuffs they can find and, in the end, even predators become prey.

Sam the Hawk

 
Even in my little backyard, backing up to many woodland acres, I’ve occasionally seen scatterings of feathers where Sam and Aris, our mated hawks, have caught something too slow at the feeders, and seen the remains of chipmunks, voles and mice in Bart the Owl’s pellets.

Bart the Owl

 
Because I work quietly and prefer to listen to the sounds of The Wild (and sometimes Bach) the animals tend to ignore me. Sometimes all those around the feeders and water buckets will jump and flee and I’ll catch site of Reynard’s (a male fox) bushy red tail as he hurries back into deeper cover. I know he and his mate have kits to feed and don’t begrudge him his time hunting in my yard.

But today I noticed a pigeon hopping among the flock that visits our feeders. Definitely hopping, not just oddly walking. I stared and noticed this pigeon had one leg, hence the hop. But there was something else odd.

There was something strange in its tail feathers. It could still fly. It was a little awkward getting airborne, true, but it could still take flight when the others scattered. It was one of the last to leave the ground, though.

I stared then picked up some binoculars I keep beside me on the table. The strange thing in its tail feathers was its other leg. Broken, twisted, how it got pegged in that position I don’t know.

I know animals can feel pain. I’ve read the studies. I know. I also noticed that the male pigeons, the ones perpetually strutting and harassing the females at their seeds, were leaving this one alone. If anything, they knocked it over in their quest to show their plumage to some other female.

This wounded pigeon would flap its wings and get back up. Sometimes that broken leg would get in the way of the wings and the pigeon would open its beak to make a sound I could not hear.

But my ears are not those of Reynard who has kits to feed.

And suddenly the other pigeons scattered, the chipmunks dashed into their holes, the squirrels scurried up their trees, the bluejays and robins and orioles and cardinals and others went to each and every compass point.

And Reynard stopped to look at me, the pigeon in his jaws, its one good leg still kicking, its head still bobbing, its beak still open making sounds I could not hear.

Reynard bowed his head, turned and trotted into the wood. I, transfixed, had stopped breathing but for how long I didn’t know. My chest was tight. I was sickened and relieved and had not moved.

A moment later and the wildlife returned. My breathe relaxed. I turned back to my computer and started to write.


This post originally appeared on the now defunct An Economy of Meaning blog and was reprinted on Discover The Practice.

DeHavilland

Velda‘s mate, Dehavilland, has been out and about lately.

They were out together, yipping quietly to let each other know where they were, also to let their kits – we haven’t seen them yet – know where their parents are and even though not in their presence, still to listen and obey.… Read the rest

Velda‘s mate, Dehavilland, has been out and about lately.

They were out together, yipping quietly to let each other know where they were, also to let their kits – we haven’t seen them yet – know where their parents are and even though not in their presence, still to listen and obey.

Ah, The Wild…

Things are so different in The Wild.

Rarely…check that. I’ve never seen human parents as genuinely concerned for their children’s development as parents of The Wild.

To say it’s a completely different mindset is to say water isn’t fire. Well, duh!

Parental care in The Wild doesn’t care about property rites, transmission of wealth, so on and so forth. No human concerns here. All there is is “I’ll do the best I can preparing you for your life without me, because my time is few and you will live after I’m gone. I will prepare you so you can share this message with your children. If I’ve parented well and you’ve learned well, you’ll have children and share this message with them.”

Velda the Fox

We have friends.

They are gracious and loving, never overstaying their welcome.

Some are unsure of their welcome, though.

We do what we can to let them know our joy at their presence, our happiness at their arrival.

But their history with others…flavors their relationship with us.… Read the rest

We have friends.

They are gracious and loving, never overstaying their welcome.

Some are unsure of their welcome, though.

We do what we can to let them know our joy at their presence, our happiness at their arrival.

But their history with others…flavors their relationship with us.

We don’t blame them. If enough Italians hurt you, you become wary of Italians. If enough Londoners hurt you, you become wary of Londoners. Doesn’t really matter if it’s Chinese, Germans, Jews, Muslims, Christians, Aboriginals, doctors, lawyers, teachers, butchers, bakers, candlestick makers, …

So The Foxen are wary of us.

We give them time.

A chance to learn our voices, our scents, our ways.

We endeavor to be to them as we wish them to be to us; giving, sharing, caring, loving.

Slowly, they learn that we, at least, are not like others who look like us.

Wish all things could be that way.