“Do you know," Peter asked, "why swallows build in the eaves of houses? It is to listen to the stories.” ~ J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

2.09.2014

coexistence


window, pink.
from years ago.
it always reminds me of a church.

wait is a cruel thing.  yesterday i suddenly deep down understood the meaning of prey, from both sides of the word.  a dying squirrel, the sun setting in a gray sky, empty tree limbs, the silhouettes of red tailed hawks.  waiting.

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yesterday they were back, the hawks who call this neighborhood home.  they are a couple, and in truth it is wrong to say they were back - this is their territory, i just said they called it home; they no doubt have a nest nearby.  it's closer to truth to say they paid us another visit.  even closer to truth to say they were hungry and we have a yard full of fat squirrels.

yesterday's kill was not a clean one.  the hawk slammed into katie's window, dropping the squirrel under her stairs, at the bottom of the cherry laurel tree, alive, but badly injured.  had the squirrel been uninjured, just in shock, able to catch its breath and move on, it was a good place to be, impossible for a hawk to dive beneath.  but.  there is always a but.

the hawk moved from tree to tree, pear to oak to sweet gum, feathers alert and ruffled, and called her mate, who settled in the big oak in the side yard.  they would wait.  and when the time came, one or the other would sneak over, scoop up the squirrel and they would be gone.  we could feel their awful patience in the air, and at our feet, the squirrel, dying.  slowly.  at our feet.   between her door and mine.  not something we could ignore, the way people ignore deaths and suffering on the television news.  no other channel to switch to.  had katie's husband been home he would have quickly shot the squirrel, we knew that, and we knew it would be right, but he was out of town.

when texted, he replied shoot it.  air gun.  and so katie did.  it was not an easy thing, playing god.

we picked it up and offered it to the hawks.  laid it in the wide open part of the side yard and waited.  they acted like gods, and did so easily, awaiting our acknowledgment.  a gift.

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when i checked the definition of coexistence, i was surprised at the mention of the word peace.  to exist together in peace, always listed second, after to exist together at the same time.  looking further, i found merriam-webster's added words: to live in peace with each other especially as a matter of policy.  ah.  it does not come naturally.  it requires an agreement.  hence the not so peaceful nature of nature's coexistence.

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my cat has destroyed the cover of my greeny-blue chair.  at the time the destruction began, i still called her my mother's cat and we were figuring out our new life together, and screw it, it's just a chair, i thought.  i tried to stop her, but i wasn't letting her go outside by herself, and cats gotta scratch, and chairs can be recovered, and in less time than i expected the chair was claw poked and torn.  i tied an old baby blanket over the worst part and laughed it off and she and i continued building our relationship and figuring out the sharing of this space.  eventually - now so long ago that i can't even remember her as only an inside cat - she was allowed outside all by herself, and she found her way to maggie's favorite old scratching spot at the bottom of a pear tree next to the creek.  it must make the tree happy to have cats to scratch its itch.

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4 comments:

  1. it is good i am not a wildlife photographer. not that i am obcessed with squirrels. but i don't like hawks. the red tails here pluck the mourning doves straight out of the yard and i am saddened with their quick deaths. more saddened when i see only a pile of feathers. on TV when i watch the underdog weakened by the chase thru the deep snow, i know i could not bear witness to this death. when the baby elephant has lost its way and it will perish, i can barely stand it, knowing i would have to step in and right that wrong of nature. nature itself is often cruel. yes, i could not be a wildlife photographer.....

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  2. It is when we are witness to these everyday events in nature that we remember to embrace life with open arms...but soon after we drift back to our daily "things of importance" and the lessons of hawks and squirrels are left unattended.I wonder why we are constantly amazed that life can be cruel. Perhaps it is how we get through it...

    Victoria

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  3. the circle of life... it never gets any easier to watch, and I think, so much of the time, we pretend to ourselves that it isn't happening.

    having said that, you grow some big hawks down there! we have them in your yard all the time, but i've never seen them get anything larger than a mouse or a baby bird.

    we did have a similar squirrel incident involving naughty kitten, and even my husband wasn't able to put the poor things out if its misery. kudos to you ladies for taking care of things!

    and now you have me thinking about coexistence... and peace, and a whole bunch of other things. i love when you do that.

    xo

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    Replies
    1. the hawks here take half grown wild turkeys, baby (size of large chicken) cranes, and last summer attacked a full grown cat in the newly mown hay field. no, i do not like hawks...but i do know the furor of nature. it is simply hard to watch, even knowing it is what it is. Nature.

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