A place I walk frequently is home to lots of wild turkeys. I cannot tell if there’s one huge gaggle of them or whether there’s two or three smaller groups that periodically join up with one another, creating a conclave of birds. Regardless, they are fun to see and hear when I come upon however many of them happen to be having a lunch party.
Some of them, I swear to God, are quite fat. It is hard for me to even imagine that we eat them, their luscious succulent flesh with gravy and potatoes on the side. Even if not eating these particular birds thriving in a retirement community near Santa Rosa, I dream of a feast. It seems like they have retired too, these birds, living the life of Riley.
Yesterday when I was walking in the neighborhood there also happened to be a gigantic number of Canadian geese (hundreds, a thousand?) that were picking seeds and God knows what else off the polo field nearby. It was a veritable Vegas buffet! They were incredibly noisy, squawking and carrying on like drunken sailors on shore leave!!
CYCLE OF LIFE
As I walked further into some of the housing area, I came upon a substantial amount of feathers near the Annadel woods. Clearly, some animal of prey had gotten a hold of either a turkey or a goose for breakfast, carrying it away into the thicket leaving a tell-tale sign of an attack behind.
I’m assuming it was a mountain lion, possibly a wolf but I’ll never know specifically which animal had hit the Vegas jackpot. I speculate only because I know there are both big cats and wolves in the mountainous, wooded areas surrounding this particular community.
As I continued walking I had an odd mixture of both compassion for both the unfortunate bird and the animal that killed it. In most ways, I’m not much of a sentimental person but it was hard not to picture or even have the flash of an image of canine or big cat teeth around a large bird’s neck, puncturing a vein and dragging it off.
What must it feel like to have the sharp teeth invade the throat, in a split second, knowing this is it, the end of your existence in this way? Does the sacrificial bird know of its own sacrifice? Does it mourn even if only in a flash, its own demise?
Does the bird “know” it moves up the evolutionary food chain once dead? After all, the energy of life cannot be destroyed, merely change form. Does that which preys on it feel grateful for that which has given up its life for their lunch? I know this sounds anthropomorphic but somehow, if you’ve watched a pet die, as they close their eyes nearing the end, you can catch the whiff of awareness.
We watch the maternal instinct in animals, caring, feeding, some visibly disturbed when one of their young dies. Why not at the other end of animal life should they not be able to have a keenness of not just their own demise, but their flesh as a life-giving sacrifice as well? A female cat or dog will exhaust themselves when having a large litter to care for, compromising their own well-being in the process.
This is not a sentimental notion rather an observational one. How often we prefer to perceive ourselves as the privileged species, believing we are so very precious, special because we have language, can think. Yet awareness knows no such convenience and therefore, is not confined by it. Rather, awareness requires no nouns and verbs. It just is.
And so I trod on, grateful for the day, the bird, and the predator that took a life to sustain its own. I trod on with the awareness that all is right in the world. Call it God, nature, whatever. It makes no matter to me for we are mere passengers, inching our way to our final destination. In the end, words have no meaning. Only the energy that brought us here, the one that ultimately returns us to our next embodiment.