I can hear them, but I can’t see them -- a flock of snow geese flying through the morning fog. I can’t see past the birch tree in the back yard, but I can hear the pop-pop-pop of the hunters’ guns.
Yesterday I was walking along the road, and a sparkling red SUV came to a stop near me. The driver rolled down the window to speak. She was very pretty and so was her companion.
“Are they allowed to hunt snow geese?” she asked me. “Yes, they are,” I replied with a big, toothy smile. I felt like an ambassador of the NRA sent to explain the facts of life to urban visitors.
“Yes, we, that is the human race, have been hunting water fowl, such as the snow geese, since the dawn of time, for many thousands of years, using shotguns and other implements.”
I might have said that, but the sparkling red SUV had driven off, I could heard them tut-tut-tutting about those poor little snow geese getting shot at. Pretty ladies, though. I’ve always liked pretty ladies.
Pop-pop-pop. It gets annoying after a while. Some hunters are so dumb that they can’t tell the difference between a snow goose and a house. I live here -- in this house in the middle of the field
You could put giant letters on your house that spells H-O-U-S-E, but that wouldn’t help.
Hunting season goes on for several months, and then the hunters go home, the human ones. But the coyotes and eagles continue. It’s serious. They get hungry and a snow goose is a meal.
I hardly see the coyotes, they move around more at night. But the eagles perch at the top of the cottonwood tree in the back yard.
It’s a very tall tree. Eagle eyes can see for miles. It’s not sport. They’re not looking for a fair fight, but scan for the wounded, aged, or sickly birds.
I look for a bird out there in the field, amid a thousand snow geese, but this one bird is hobbling, as if something were wrong.
The eagle saw that bird too, before I did, and that crippled goose will not live out the day.
I can walk in the field the next day and find the feathered remains. That’s how it goes.
Eagles are inspiring, but for them it just gets cold and windy sitting up there on the top of the tree. They’re not trying to impress anyone, they’re just looking for their next meal and hoping to stay alive until spring.
Tourists pull their cars to the side of the road, and take photos of the eagles in the tree tops. They are part of nature too, human nature.
We humans bring justice to nature. It could be our defining quality, compared to other creatures.
We instinctively recoil at the unfairness of the eagle’s predation, saying, “Pick on somebody your own size.”
From a sense of justice comes law and government and the whole shebang, with me walking by the side of the road, and the ladies in the sparkling red SUV, and the hunters going pop-pop-pop.
All trying to decide what is fair, and doing it poorly, but it is our Star-Trek human prime directive. Be fair.
FOLDING SWEATERS. As I have declined the social ramble and spent more time on the farm these past few weeks, I did something I have never done before in my life. I folded my sweaters.
I have a nice collection -- a maroon Pendleton sweater that is so thick and warm, I can’t even wear unless it’s bitter cold.
I have two light merino wool sweaters. My daughter helped me find them at the thrift store. I didn’t know about merino wool -- it’s extra warm.
I have two light-weight cotton sweaters, one maroon and one baby-blue. I bought them two years ago at Target for $10 each.
Then the red cotton sweater and the cashmere -- which I mentioned in the previous issue of Frog Hospital.
And, my 100 percent cotton, No Logo, earth green XL sweatshirt.
I had my sweaters all jammed into a shelf on top of a rack of clothes in my closet. But I took them all out on Sunday, and folded them in the proper manner, and placed them back on the shelf.
Why did I do this? It seemed to mark a change in my life, a beginning which I have hoped for, a new direction.
This may not seem important. Very little of what I do is important. I want my life to be interesting and meaningful. But I can’t think of anything that’s important about it, except that my niece Rosie in Colorado is hoping that her husband Travis will come from Iraq for Christmas. That’s important.