Sunday, May 18, 2014

Live, and let live

Partly cloudy with the temperature over 70 degrees — Spring. Earlier today, while the sun was shining, one of our local bullsnakes was out sunning him(her?)self on the road. I'd rather s/he was chasing and catching pocket gophers but I'm hoping to spend part of the afternoon enjoying some sun so I suppose I can't begrudge the same to one of my fellow inhabitants of earth. Although I did disturb the snake enough that s/he decided to move on. I suspect that was probably just as well.

bullsnake sunning on the road
bullsnake sunning on the road            © harrington

Although I have fished since I was a youngster, and been a hunter most of my adult life, I have never understood why someone in a motor vehicle feels compelled to drive over a snake sunning itself or a turtle crossing the road. I'm not referring here to the occasional, accidental herpicide, but I've seen some drivers intentionally change course to run down an animal defenseless against an opponent that's encased in steel and weighs several tons. My cynical side is only too willing to consider such behavior indicative of a deep seated socio-pathology and reason enough for such people to spend eternity in the seventh circle of hell. This may mean I'll never become a great Buddhist. Anyhow, I think that the definition of "complete streets" should be broadened to include non-human users of our roadways in addition to "pedestrians, transit riders, bicyclists, and drivers." (Maybe I would make a great Buddhist after all.) Denise Levertov suggests that animals are a source of joy whose presence we should appreciate.

Come into Animal Presence

By Denise Levertov 

Come into animal presence.
No man is so guileless as
the serpent. The lonely white
rabbit on the roof is a star
twitching its ears at the rain.
The llama intricately
folding its hind legs to be seated
not disdains but mildly
disregards human approval.
What joy when the insouciant
armadillo glances at us and doesn't
quicken his trotting
across the track into the palm brush.

What is this joy? That no animal
falters, but knows what it must do?
That the snake has no blemish,
that the rabbit inspects his strange surroundings
in white star-silence? The llama
rests in dignity, the armadillo
has some intention to pursue in the palm-forest.
Those who were sacred have remained so,
holiness does not dissolve, it is a presence
of bronze, only the sight that saw it
faltered and turned from it.
An old joy returns in holy presence.

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