Archive for February, 2006

Thrill of the Hunt

Saturday, February 4th, 2006

In writing a description of the event for the Second Saturday at McNary National Wildlife Refuge I emphasized the wonder of owl vision. A live owl will attend the event and demonstrate its ability to turn its head one hundred eighty degrees – like having eyes in the back of its head. Actually as if it would wring its own neck. Oh, oh, that dragged me into the dangerous old person realm of reminiscing.

You’ve heard the expression “I’d like to wring your neck” and I wondered
if that came from the long ago necessity regarding the killing of chickens.
Supposedly a chicken was killed by a person wringing its neck. From one
who had to kill a lot of chickens – and I wouldn’t think of cooking one
alive but we had to eat – I thought of the gruesome task; one I have not
had to do for fifty years. And it occurred to me that if folks had to
kill their own meat – or even dress a chicken (that means defeather it
which is not only tedious work but is time spent in odious proximity of
a dead carcass) they might not eat as heartily and endanger their health.

It’s true that eating beef is more dangerous to health than eating chicken
but I am pretty certain that very few folks would kill the cow for a steak
or hamburger. I never had the need or the opportunity. When I lived on
a farm we never ate beef. It was too expensive. A cow gave milk for cash
or went to the stockyards for cash that we could use to buy flour or sugar
or shoes or such necessary items we couldn’t produce ourselves.

Oh, mighty hunters still go out every autumn to shoot deer or moose or elk and perhaps even eat some of the flesh or organs of those wild animals. But the trip is for the thrill of the hunt because meat they do not need. Grocery stores are stocked with the flesh of a variety of animals which one can obtain for money. No bloody mess, no death involved. And the cooks only have to fry or bake or boil or burn or whatever it takes to please the family’s pallet.

Well, that’s not quite true. There is death involved. But I did not
intend for this to be a gruesome tirade. I am happy I do not have to go
about killing animals any more just because I need my protein. These days
cooking is quick and easy. (One could eat the animal raw, but even then
it would be easier to eat if it is dead, I think.)

My message is: if you are aware of history and reality, you probably will not eat too much. But do not let this stop you from eating altogether. That is also dangerous to your health.

What Invisible Wind?

Wednesday, February 1st, 2006

“Who has seen the wind? Neither you nor I” wrote a perceptive woman poet a century ago – still a truism. Evidence of its presence is another thing. Newest invisible technology showed us immediate results of terrible winds passing with the hurricane Katrina in the Gulf Coast last year and others across the continent and the world. I remember a narrow swath of large trees knocked hither and yon in northern Minnesota decades ago by a tornado cutting what in hindsight appeared to be a capricious meandering path through small towns and wooded countryside.

The wind across the desert here in central Washington state whips sand into our faces when we struggle from our cars to shopping malls. The amount of soil moved by those winds often prompts highway closures because visibility is nearly zero and wind velocity overturns sizeable trailers and small cars. On my curbside the wind overturned my garbage can – a fifty gallon sturdy plastic container filled with garden debris and some household garbage – scattering small boxes eastward down the street. I rushed out to collect the scraps and right the container before the pickup vehicle arrived.

With the sun rising higher the wind seems to have bated. Warm sunny February weather, not in the past showing such mildness, is quite welcome, leaving fingers itching to dislodge last year’s dead growth from among sprouting early violets and daffodils. I have much extra cleaning in the yard, picking up twigs and pine cones felled by the early morning wind. Considering the aftermath I face is hardly worth pondering when realizing what others face after the onslaught of other winds at other times in other places.

“Who has seen the wind?” Who indeed? Does it matter? Oh yes. It as much of the unseen as that which we visibly encounter that shapes our lives. The brain stores all we learn from experience, all we accept via television, our friends, our family, and gives us the ability to live our own lives, shaping our actions and decisions, making our dearest dreams – or fears – come true.