On this clear evening the last bird songs that mark the end of the day can be heard in the tree tops at the edge of the forest as the remaining light dwindles in the western sky. The day struggles to hold on while the murk of night captures the sky like dark ink mixing into clear water. Twilight lingers but for a few moments; so filled on this day with natural wonder that this short time seems eternal.
As the light fades crickets began to chirp; reflecting cool temperatures their rhythmic sounds are slow and set far apart. The dark silhouette of bats swooping about on the immediate horizon in pursuit of insects for forage attracts my attention for a moment. Their movements, suddenly angular and precise, reflect their amazing ability to change direction at a moment’s notice; such amazing athleticism that can be witnessed every night in the warmer months. At quite a distance to the south a barred out hoots repeatedly, perhaps looking for company. Other barred owls do not answer his call. The brook can still be heard in the distance as endless water splashes over smooth rocks measuring the passing of time in both seconds and eons. It is but a brief moment when much looks out of focus; an instant when contrasts are not so evident.
Taking all of this in I’m lost in momentary thought. Today I witnessed a gray squirrel get picked off by a red tail hawk. I didn’t know whether to morn for the squirrel or rejoice for the hawk. So it is in the natural world. Death begets life. Over and over again, death begets life.
I am reminded about a conversation I had with someone not too long ago. She was shocked that I fish and hunt for food. I am not a trophy fisherman or hunter. I fish and hunt for food. So it has been for generations and generations in my family. We see ourselves as part of the natural world. The woman who questioned the ethics of hunting expressed that humans should have evolved beyond hunting. Taking life was a bad thing even if for sustenance. She offered me some alternatives. Transitioning to becoming a vegetarian was the primary option. My critic seemed rather annoyed with me, as if her position was more valid than mine.
I wanted to ask her if she did not like plants. She was willing to kill them, or at least parts of them, for her own sustenance. I decided that response would sound trite and snide so I deferred to silence. Actually, I had a funny picture in my head. In my mind I was wearing a baseball cap that said “Plants Have Feelings Too” and carrying a sign that said “Save the Carrot”.
Plants are living, viable entities. They deserve as much respect as any other form of life. This living planet is comprised of many different types of life. All are equal. All are interdependent. All are a part of the whole; a necessary component of Gaia. Of course, that is just one person’s opinion.
Still, her course of questioning bothered me. Am I savage? Uncaring? A part of the problem, rather than the solution? From her perspective, perhaps, yes, I am all of the above.
Nonetheless, I see myself as being part of the natural world; part of the normal cycles of life (and death). I do not celebrate death or killing. I am greatly thankful for the sustenance that other forms of life, both plant and animal, give me. I cannot live without them. Borrowing from some Native American and eastern philosophies, perhaps we should look at the natural world and her natural cycles as something that is beautiful. Perhaps there is no good or bad to these natural cycles. Perhaps there is just life; the life of one living organism-the planet earth. Perhaps we all have a purpose in this complicated matrix.
But still I wonder. I must also respect her point of view, just as I hope she respects my thoughts. Mutual respect can be the door that opens up new horizons.
The twilight gone my vision is nearly completely obscured as near total darkness shrouds my surroundings. I listen to the distinctive sounds of the night; tree frogs, crickets, and a coyote’s mournful call on the top of a nearby mountain. The coyote yips and howls. It is likely thankful for a fresh catch. Perhaps her young will survive as a result of this feat.
Long after I put myself to rest this evening the night will yield to the first crack of dawn. The morning twilight will appear. Images not clearly seen during the night will sharpen as eastern light hails over the horizon. Each morning brings new clarity.
Written for www.wildramblings.com in August of 2009