Another aspect of my political denouement is an incident last week that blew my mind. Actually, it was a series of seemingly disconnected bits that flowed together to a roaring epiphany so potent that it lifted the top of my head out, re-arranged the nicer bits, and discarded vast knotworks of memory and pain.
Why yes, you COULD accuse me of hyperbole on my best days (and this certainly isn't, though I have a lovely lunch that has improved my mood).
This happened last Wednesday afternoon. I was having lunch with Kim, so I met her at the house.
I realized that I had left the bird feeder empty for the third day in a row. I know many people think that assigning intelligence or awareness to animals is a conceit of humanity. I, on the other hand, think that to NOT do so is the greater sin, a self-centered game to avoid thinking too long on the implications of grading nature on a curve. After all, if animals have emotions and a sense of self, however that's defined, then the Vegan's look less crazy by the moment, and even the simplest of acts takes on the weight of assault and murder, or the support of same.
Where does the taking of a life, any life, fall on such a curve on sentience and emotion? Because no matter where you draw it, you're going to encounter religious wars and tyranny that will make the catholic church at its worst look like a kindly old relative. "Hey, uncle Torqumada, what have you brought me today?"*
But I (as usual and always) digress.
Regardless of how you view, I noticed that the birds were giving me looks that could be termed "dirty" by a guilty conscience. Since bird feeders aren't much in vogue in our neighborhood, I suspect we're the main source of food for a lot of little critters. As a result quite a few nests have sprung up in the surrounding trees, so I can all too easily imagine starving little chicks crying for food... and their parents are flying up to my back door, finding a good perching point, and staring at me.
So I trudged out and refilled the bird feeder. I also spotted one of the two squirrels (yes, I CAN tell them apart. It's not hard.) that liked to hang out and nibble on dried corn cobs, digging through the small pile of seed shells that inevitably forms under the feeder. So while I was putting away the remainder of the bag of bird seed, I snagged a new corn cob.
As I walked back to the tree, the squirrel beat a hasty retreat to the the Lemon tree by the feeder. Since this was the same squirrel that actually approached me not a month ago to demand an ear of corn, I figured he would jump down and do that now.
Instead, it ran up to the back fence. I thought he was heading back to his nest, but instead he strolled over to the peach tree** on the other side of the feeder. Still standing on the cross board on the other side of the fence, he leaned over and started fussing with one of the branches that came to just below the top of the fence. I thought he was going to come down to grab the corn.
What he WAS doing was picking one of the under-ripe peaches and eating it not 3 feet away from me, arms resting on the fence for all the world like he was leaning them against a table top, and ate the peach as I laughed and told him what a cheeky little bastard he was.
For how else could I read that but as "I don't need your stinking charity handouts -- I can fend for myself!" It also explained a really weird noise I've heard from time to time -- the sound of the squirrel's teeth grinding against the pit of the fruit.
As I stood there watching, birds started to fly up and yell at me for standing too close to the feeder. They finally decided I wasn't TOO much of a threat, and settled down to eat. It wasn't until they started flinging seed at me that I realized they were also getting territorial.
I don't know why, but I suddenly felt... connected, for lack of a better word, to the world around me.
This was only the first half of that epiphany -- the second half I'll be posting locked, but don't worry -- I'll likely be cross-posting it to fat_sex
(which should give you an idea to content, but only partly.)
* And, because it's now stuck in MY head, the response: "I brought you all an auto da fe!". Thanks a lot, Mel.
** At least I THINK it's a peach tree... this is the first year it's produced, the fruit isn't quite ripe yet,and my knowledge of botany isn't extensive enough to otherwise identify the tree. So sue me.