samedi, octobre 14, 2006

Hunting and Havens

I live in an area where hunting is a part of normal life (for humans, and, I suppose, for birds of prey). It used to be, a friend of mine tells me, that the local public schools were on holiday the first day of hunting season-maybe now that's what they call an "in service day." When I run down past the lake in the increasingly chilly and dark afternoons, I often encounter archers or men in camouflage carrying shotguns. Although I am aware than about 40 percent of American householders own guns, I still feel a shiver of fear when I run past the hunters. Donning my perkiest smile, I give them a friendly "hey there"-and let the adrenaline push me up the steep hill towards houses, and lights, and places where the inhabitants take their meat out of the freezer in a form that little resembles the animal from which it came. I can understand why hunting deer around here might be necessary. I can comprehend eating the meat of the creature one has shot. I just cannot understand getting pleasure from killing it. We have several deer that visit our little development. Last week the kids pointed to one, quietly resting in our backyard. As I mowed the lawn late that afternoon, it sat there observing me-and didn't move far when I got close to it. Eventually the little brown animal with the pointy ears moved back into the trees, where it munched on fall leaves and watched me as I mowed-up and around, diagonally and at an angle, making a game out of what can often seem a chore. As I watched the mower dissect the grass and blazing fall leaves into mulch, I pondered the beauty of the scene, happy that this tame young deer found, at least for an evening, a fire free zone in a dangerous month.

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