Recently, I watched two very different faces of Nature. I needed the reminder that Life is not one or the other, but both at the same time.
For the past couple of months I’ve had itinerant chickens hanging out down at my corral, a little black hen, and a colorful young rooster I’ve named, “Rudy.” Like other ‘ghetto’ birds in the past that have moved in as squatters, these two come-latelys are of unknown origin, opportunists ready to seize a good thing when they find it. Rudy quickly picked up on my twice-daily feeding schedule for donkeys and goats and now waits beside the path to the corral to lead the way when I appear with grain bowls in my arms.
The other day I was surprised to find a neighbor’s noisy flock of eight guineas waiting inside my corral when Rudy and I and my string of donkeys and goats walked in the gate. Rudy went straight for the guineas, who were all adult birds, each larger by a third than Rudy, and a flock of eight!
He was outgunned and outmanned at the Tomé Corral! I watched, fascinated, as one of the guineas fluffed out into an attack pose then raced to flog Rudy. The young rooster puffed his feathers out for all they were worth and leaped up to meet the attacker with feet, spurs, and beak flying. The nimbler rooster got the best of it, the guinea retreated, only to lower its head, fluff out into its attack pose again, and charge Rudy.
The little rooster and guinea fought three or four rounds, but it ended without serious damage, three rounds to one going to Rudy. The guineas raced off in a wild clamor back across the irrigation ditch and Rudy came into the barn with a noticeable strut.
Territory and ‘turf’ are serious business in Nature– and generally non-negotiable. Guineas and chickens know it. Donkeys and goats know it. Scotties know it. Humans do too. We speak of “market share,” but business is not about sharing; it’s about cornering one’s market and so running ‘guineas’ out of town!
But there is another side to Nature. The sweet and winsome and refreshing side I saw in a short Internet video sent to me by Oklahoma Scottie Rescue devotee, Bonnie Parker. It’s a video of baby goats playing, their wild antics set to background music of a familiar Christmas song. Here’s the URL address so you can pull up the video on YouTube and watch it. Be sure to turn your sound speakers on to watch it . . . http://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/b4_EdJ-XkUA?rel=0
Tooth and claw competition is real in Life. But so are compassion, play, and laughter.
The recent massacre at an elementary school is frightening reminder how fragile goodness is, how in a playground of children’s laughter the demonic in the human heart can surface causing incalculable pain. Two faces of Nature.
Each of us enters life carrying a demon and an angel. Life is not all one or the other, nor are we. But we have choices. It’s up to us to manifest our demon or our angel by our choices and our character.
Mr. Rogers in his TV ‘neighborhood’ used to teach children that in every crisis, every bad thing that happens, there are always people who try to help. He taught his little ones to “always look for the helpers.”
That’s sage counsel for seniors, too.
May this season of good will remind us Life does not have to be ruthless, that love is the resource in life that actually increases when shared. May we be in our corner of life part of the solution, not part of the problem, one of Life’s angels who show up to help.
Truth is, in the human soul at the end, only love matters.
Joseph Harvill, publisher Great Scots Magazine