Sunday, August 3, 2014

Life and Death in Nature

I’ve always been a “nature lover”, I guess. How can one NOT be? All of creation is so amazing, given that Our Creator is beyond amazing.

And yet, of course, “nature” as we experience it is not perfect, because it is a part of the fallen world. I remember in one of the latter Narnia books where the end of Narnia is described, and a new Narnia emerges that is even more truly Narnia. Everything is more vibrant, more real.

But here, I am stuck with the current version of nature. And it is not always pretty. Two examples come to mind:

You can see little downy tufts on its head. 
We have had a lot of birds around our property this year. I shared with you about the doves, I think, and they have continued their presence. There may have been more nests and babies, but they seem to be very secretive, so I’m not sure where the nests might be.

The robins, however, are not secretive. One clutch of robin eggs hatched, and the babies learned to fly and left the nest. And then it appeared that the mother was still using the nest; a quick trip to Google revealed that robins can have more than one clutch of eggs in a season. This one clearly did.

And unlike the doves, the robin babies are quite raucous at feeding time. You’d think there were a dozen babies in that nest, as opposed to the 2 or 3 that actually hatched there. But it seems to me that the robin babies are prone to leaving the nest a little too early. One year, we found a couple of dead ones on the ground – either they fell out, or were pushed out, but they were very immature and surely hadn’t tried to fly.

This year, though, I watched as one clutch of robin babies grew, and were fed, and their downy heads became feathered, and they sat on the edge of the nest. Then they tried to fly. They weren’t very good at it. They’d get a foot or so off the ground and then perch on a step or a fence rail. Since I was aware of them, I kept the dogs in the back yard, separated from the baby birds in the front yard. I gave the babies several days to figure out the mechanics of efficient flight.

But apparently I didn’t give them long enough. A few days later, one of the dogs paused in her generally preferred activity of chasing the tennis ball to chase a baby bird instead. The baby didn’t get far off the ground, and didn’t fly very fast, and the dog caught it, though she seemed a little confused as to what she might do with this moving object! The other dog joined her, and though I yelled and ran to rescue the baby, I was too late. It made me sad.

But…that’s “nature.”

A healthy doe and fawns from a previous year
The other example is occurred during my Rosary walk the other day. I noticed a doe and two fawns very close to the road. They had been bedded down in the sagebrush, and my passing by had disturbed them enough to rouse them. But as I paused to take a photo, I noticed that the doe seemed to be limping. Then I saw that she was actually dragging her right rear leg behind her, and what I guess would be called the hock (I’m not up on deer anatomy!) was quite noticeably swollen…as in HUGE.  As I stood there watching, she became more nervous and tried to increase her pace away from me; at that point she could only use three legs. I suppose her leg was either broken or dislocated. Or both.

That made me sad, too. It’s so easy to anthropomorphize! But I do hope the doe is able to resist death for a while so that the two fawns can receive as much sustenance and protection from her as possible.

Life goes on. Death ensues.

Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me.

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