Non Harming & Country Animals

I do my best to follow a “do no harm” way of life. I shoo spiders and other bugs out doors, I watch where I walk and I have a great respect for nature but my recent move back  to country living is testing  this resolve.

Take the kamikaze chipmunks who race across the road in front of my car on the drive to work in the morning. They are so small and fast. I would never be able to stop my car in time. I feel horrible the whole day if I hit one or see a flattened body on the road from my rear view mirror. Then there are the deer who at dawn and dusk cross the road or jump up from road side ditches. I now mind  the time of day and slow down where I know they might be crossing. So far no car and animal contact.

Coyote “the trickster” gives me the finger at least once a week. Never at the same time of day and never in the same place. It’s usually within a kilometer or two. He is just standing there as I come around the winding corner. He makes eye contact and then bounds off.

The funniest event was yesterday at a friends acreage. Pack rats had been visiting the newly replaced sweat lodge and leaving their horrendous urinary scent on the new coverings and flooring. She had already trapped one and another was in the trap when we arrived. I thought pack rats were like squirrels and if you trapped one you had to take it on a long trip at least 20k and over water or it would return home. That’s okay by me but she wanted him to be expedited. She suggested drowning him in the wheelbarrow filled with water. Well it was her house.

My husband filled the wheelbarrow with water. I turned around and moved away covering my dog’s ears lest she would hear the screams. The only scream I hear was the expletive from my husband and I turned around to see the pack rat, soaking wet jumping from the wheelbarrow. I guess the door on the wooden trap floated and gave him his escape.

My dog was right after him as he ran under the concrete walkway. She doesn’t subscribe to my do no harm philosophy. Prey is prey, and fun!

I guess it was not his turn that day. It took me back to the insightful Mary Oliver poem below. I read it often when I need to understand that I am not in control.

“Maker of All Things, Even Healings”

All night
under the pines
the fox
moves through the darkness
with a mouthful of teeth
and a reputation for death
which it deserves.
In the spicy
villages of the mice
he is famous,
his nose
in the grass
is like an earthquake,
his feet
on the path
is a message so absolute
that the mouse, hearing it,
makes himself
as small as he can
as he sits silent
or, trembling, goes on
hunting among the grasses
for the ripe seeds.

Maker of All Things,
including appetite,
including stealth,
including the fear that makes
all of us, sometime or other,
flee for the sake
of our small and precious lives,
let me abide in your shadow–
let me hold on
to the edge of your robe
as you determine
what you must let be lost
and what will be saved.

Mary Oliver



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