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Tuesday, January 20, 2015


donkey jen

It is a moderate time of winter this week. A few days of sunlight and cold. The sun makes the cold feel better than cold under dark clouds. By chance, I saw a weather report for the next week. It looks like every day above freezing and every night below freezing. It's not bad. The floor is not quite so cold. After maybe four winters with two bird feeders, the bird community has worked out a flow that works for all concerned. Blue jays, one black and white woodpecker with red on top of its head, and other big birds go to one feeder. Chickadees dart in for a seed between the big birds. Snowbirds, nuthatches, chickadees, the smaller birds use the other feeder. Cardinals go to both. The birds have an understanding among themselves, something like the way animals of the African plain gather around a watering hole in peace. The family of red squirrels that live in the pines around the house use the feeder the small birds go to. Gray squirrels from the trees across the road use the one the big birds go to. The squirrels don't take everything. They eat what they want and go on. I throw seeds on the ground for the squirrels so they won't go to the feeders so much. They're not a problem, but the birds have to wait when a squirrel is at the feeder. I see the birds in peace with each other, the whole variety of birds, big to small. The blue jays are not aggressive with the smaller birds. They wait their turn when another bird is at the feeder. They perch on the rhododendron branches waiting for next opening. They live in peace. The feeders are the communal station for nearby birds. The hawks know the feeders are here. Among the tree limbs and rhododendron is not an easy place for a hawk to maneuver. They wait outside the grove of trees to nail birds coming and going. I suspect one is living in a grove of white pines up the hill behind the house. I hear it from time to time. I've seen a sparrow hawk fly in here, but it didn't do any good. The birds scattered. The hawk had no reason to wait, perched on the bird feeder, and flew. 

donkey jack

At first, I didn't like the idea of the hawks invading my bird sanctuary. It wasn't long before I caught on. The feeding station is here to feed hawks too. They're birds, they live here, it's communal, they're welcome. They're part of the balance. I once saw a Cooper's hawk land just beyond the window, a big bird with impressive wingspan. It looked in the window, saw me and flew. A red tail lives nearby. I see it sometimes sit on a wire or sail by. It is Justin's hunting buddy. When he was using his tree stand, he said the red tail would fly up and perch on a branch uncannily close to him. Soon after, a deer would appear. He learned the hawk knew he was hunting. The boom of the rifle did not make the bird fly. It stayed in place, just a few feet away. The hawk knew Justin was a predator too, who went after the big animals the hawk couldn't handle. The hawk knows Justin's truck. I think of the thousands of years the Indians lived in peace with mountain lions, rattlesnakes, bears, wolves. Europeans discovered the world was round and went looking for gold. The age of discovery on one hand---the age of genocide on the other. They not only annihilated Indian civilization on two continents, but killed about everything else too. Killing became American tradition unto an attitude pervasive all my life I trained self away from: if it's living, kill it. Buffalo Bill's genocide of the plains buffalo made his name, got him fame and fortune, ostensibly to starve the Indians into submission. Someone I know heard something on the deck in the night. It was a possum. He went and got his gun and shot it. And I say within, Wha? I wanted to say, It was only passing through. He knew. Something to kill. Easy target. Hear the gun go boom. Nailed the sucker. Good shot. By this time in the life, I have emotional, as well as physical, reactions I suppress from view hearing somebody tell about killing something. I'm not a good actor.

donkeys and their shadows

I've noticed my hunting friends like to watch my face while they tell me about a kill. I do my best to keep a poker face, which gives me away. I've heard some stories that make me want to cry. The hardest time I had keeping reaction from showing in my face was the time my friend Jr told me about shooting a hoot-owl out of a tree at a hundred yards, watching my face to see me hold it. One of the great ironies of my life came the night of the morning Jr left the body. Parking at home, when I opened the car door to get out, I heard a hoot-owl in a tree so close my first thought was, why didn't you fly when the car drove up? Next thought, It's Jr telling me he's all right, saying hi and thank you. I wondered why he chose an owl to speak through. At the house I looked up owl in Jamie Sams' book, Medicine Cards. I already knew the wisdom part, but wanted to see what else the book had to say. Owl fit Jr. He was the one I call the only man I've known all along the way who had true wisdom. I found the owl is also the deceiver. It flies on silent feathers and sees the unknown. Both these aspects of owl point particularly at Jr. I was not the only one who knew him to see the deceiver, but knew I was the only one to see his wisdom. I mentioned to two of his friends of many years, separately, a few weeks after he'd been gone, "Jr was the only man I've ever known I'd say without hesitation had wisdom, the real deal." I knew neither one would allow him wiser than themselves. Also knew neither one would see wisdom in him or anywhere else. It's a bible word with no meaning in the now, like prophet or king. It's not a word you hear much on tv. Both men without much school education, though both with PhDs and post-docs in experience, answered after a pause of a few seconds in the same words, "Jr did have some wisdom about him." I took it for affirmative, knowing neither one had seen wisdom in Jr, consciously, and knew both had seen it unconsciously. I wanted to bring it into their consideration to add a new dimension to their memory of Jr.

found on a maple

I personally do not like guns, though had two that were given to me, didn't want either one. After several years of catching dust, I gave them away to get them out of the house. I'm of the belief that guns attract guns. I also believe I'd rather be killed than kill, though haven't had a chance to test it and don't want the chance. I do not believe I'm safer with a gun. A possum wants to sleep under the house, you're welcome. A coon wants to eat leftovers at a bird feeder in the night, you, too, are welcome. It's communal. Coyotes come around in the night, I don't need to kill them. I step outside and yell big and loud, GIT. The giant's left his barn. The coyotes leave. My reputation as a human precedes me. Everything is afraid of humans. The animals left in the wild tell their babies the humans can kill you just by seeing you, they go boom and you're dead. A wild animal weaned by its mother cannot be tamed. A wild animal brought up from birth by humans is easily tamed; it hasn't been trained by mother who knows to avoid humans, rule number one in the wild. They'll kill you just for living. American cops kill three people a day, one of them an unarmed black man, woman or child. It's not safe to be a human in America either. Then we have the homicides and all the other -cides. My way in this world is to go in peace. Merely having a gun in my mind is not peace. Some friends taught me to fill half gallon plastic fruit juice jugs with water and blow them away. I had a .45 that shot magnum hollow points. I went out one day and blew holes in a few. Never touched it again. Hot dang, blew up a plastic bottle. I liked the balance of the weight in my hand. I liked the feeling of power when it went boom. OK, I experienced it, now what? I'm suspicious of "power" so readily available. As for the balance, a brush feels better in my hand. I'm of the belief that guns, like money, create more problems than they solve. A gun is an instrument of hate. I don't trust hate either.    

yard art


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