You, Me, the Birds, and Bees
Living among nature, you understand the value of life.
In the morning fog, I can still hear her, slowly wading from the island to the tall grasses along the lake’s bank. I know, from past years, the doe has given birth on the island, and somewhere amongst the overgrowth and brush, a fawn hides there, surrounded by a protective moat of water.
Unless predators want to go for a swim, the fawn is safe — at least until it grows strong and tall enough to wade to the mainland. Right now, I can picture it curled up in the safety of the shade, and I will keep watch from the back porch, waiting for it to emerge from its hidden home to drink at the water’s edge.
I smile to myself, admiring the mother’s instinct, knowing the fawn is safe from coyotes, safe from the equipment that will soon cut down the hay in the fields.
The softshell turtle in the lake did not lay her eggs on the island. Her eggs need warmth and light and were laid and buried on the west bank of the water. I found the remains of those eggs, dug up and chewed open by a skunk or coon. It’s such a shame the island doesn’t provide the environment the eggs need to hatch.
A local rabbit dug a burrow in the middle of the garden, filling it with the down of her own fur. Surrounded by a fence, the garden plot is a safer space than most, however, even buried and hidden beneath more fur and grasses beyond the notice of the human eye, the nest was not hidden from our beagle’s nose. Mattie found the nest immediately, and though not interested in any destruction or dinner, she made a game of poking the tiny bunnies with her nose to make them squeak.
Their eyes were not yet open, and the dog’s activities drew the interest of the cat. I stopped following the bunnies’ story after that. In some ways, I still have a city girl heart. I understand the concept of survival of the fittest, but often I do not care to witness the lives of the “unfit.”
However, I am the protector of chickens. I love my four hens and let them free-range during the day. I know that opossum, skunks, and raccoons are bad news for chickens. One evening, as the hens gathered near their pen at the end of the day, I spied a shadow moving through the hayfield like a shark through the ocean. Assuming it was a raccoon, I headed into the tall grasses to shoo it away from the hen house.
I was about 12 feet away when I realized it was an all-black skunk with white Groucho Marx eyebrows. I immediately turned tail and headed back to the house. Skunks dig up yellow jacket nests in the ground. We allow them space and life here because we prefer the skunks over yellow jackets.
And of course, the battle of the boring bees has begun. I have my traps hung and spray all the unwanted boreholes with WD-40. Some people caulk them shut, some people stuff the holes with whatever is handy. Some people keep tennis rackets at hand and use the bees as tennis balls.
On a recent weekend overnight in the Rosedale area, I heard three whippoorwills in conversation, a special treat. A recently transplanted city girl told me, “Yeah, you people get excited about things like that.”
And I think, that’s the core difference between city mice and country mice. City mice don’t care about skunks or whippoorwills or deer giving birth on an island. They don’t care because they don’t see these critters as neighbors, and don’t see them as signs of a healthy environment. Don’t see them as connected - coons to turtle eggs, skunks to yellow jackets, deer to whippoorwills.
They do not see or even make note of the critters and are not impressed by these creations of God. They cannot be still long enough to feel the respite and comfort of exposure to and immersion in the world of nature. They are human-centric, and barely acknowledge the other creatures we share this world with.
On my way to work one morning, I saw what I first thought was an injured buzzard hopping off the road. It wasn’t until I passed the creature that I realized, it was an injured eagle. It hurt my heart, and I spent 20 minutes of my work morning finding out how to contact a local DNR officer. I pray for box turtles daily for God to help them make it across the road without getting smashed. One smashed box turtle ends a potential 80-year box turtle production line. Generations and generations of turtles that now will never exist.
We people get excited about such things, but we also get upset about such things. It would offend me to let that eagle suffer along the road and get slammed by a car or truck. It hurts my heart to see smashed box turtles knowing that hundreds of future turtles will now not exist.
When you live amongst nature, you celebrate, assist, allow and mourn with nature’s way. You worry about eagles and turtles on the road, waterfowl poisoned by lead fishing weights, and you celebrate the wisdom of giving birth on an island.
It is clear to me that the powerful in our nation do not value our lives and well-being as long as they make money. If they feel this way about humans, imagine how little they care about box turtles, fawns, and skunks with Groucho Marx eyebrows.
I find it interesting how folks get (rightfully) outraged about mass shootings, but not mountaintop removal, Frankenfoods, and opioid addiction. These are all symptoms of the same root cause — as long as someone powerful is making money they don’t care who dies. Children, siblings, parents, turtles, skunks, fawns.
So many are concerned about the war in Ukraine but don’t realize our own leadership has been waging war on us for years. If you ever witness a mountaintop removal project, see the studies of long-term GMO ingestion, the treat-the-symptom-not-the-cause methods of Western medicine, then you know how little humans and nature are valued.
We are collateral damage, killed, or sickened for the cause. Just like the animals who lose their homes, water, food sources, and safety.
Yes. We get “excited” about such things as birds and bees and box turtles. When you live amongst nature, you understand that we are all commodities and incidentals, and we are all in this together.