Thought Trafficking


Commandment #6: Thou shalt not be mean to a moose.
February 1, 2010, 6:39 am
Filed under: living, outside | Tags: , ,

It is grey – the world only comes in monochrome this week. The full wolf moon of January was completely obscured by an obtuse cloud-cover. In all of that grey, today offered spots of amazement: two moose and a great-horned owl.

This morning, sitting in the kitchen after breakfast, my companion started to yell: “OH! OH! OH! OH! OH! OH!” My confusion was quickly cleared up when he followed that up with: “MOOSE! MOOSE! TWO OF THEM!” There were two moose, a female and her calf, wandering up the driveway and into my backyard. After brief consultation, they used a snowbank to clear the fence into the neighbours’ yard, whereupon the mother jumped a second fence and the calf stayed in the yard, not quite tall enough.

Within minutes, there were two “Peace Officers” and their cars parked outside of the house, standing on the driveway, quickly followed by two individuals from Fish and Wildlife, plus their trucks. They milled about for over an hour, eventually shooting the calf with a tranquilizer gun, netting it, and hauling it carefully onto the back of one of the trucks. The mother was picked up in another neighbourhood.

It is a strange feeling, seeing two moose in your backyard. They are huge. Taller than fences, with spindly-looking legs, lanky with a clumsy gait. The snow has been falling steadily for days, and their two-toed prints seemed enormous in comparison with the tire tracks and bootprints. And what a shock for the animals. Suddenly the world you are wandering is sectioned off, blocked in the strangest places. Walls and fences and cars with only decorative trees in stark contrast to stands of poplars and open, rolling grasslands. The way is no longer clear, and street signs, pavement, imposed uniformity all seem hard and ridiculous when you look at it like that. And the sad thing is that I had forgotten that.

I had forgotten how sharp these contradictions were. I had forgotten how artificial this is, or despite a quiet awareness I wasn’t thinking about it enough. A world so awful in comparison that we have to tranquilize the animal and release them elsewhere to get them out of it: they are in danger in our world, and, if we aren’t smart about it, we are in danger because we don’t know how to act around these animals. Like tourists on the side of the highway to Jasper, who idle their cars and run towards the grazing wildlife. They are objects.

We must get used to the idea of recognizing hierophanies absolutely everywhere, in every area of psychological, economic, spiritual and social life. Indeed, we cannot be sure that there is anything–object, movement, psychological function, being or even game–that has not at some time in human history been somewhere transformed into a hierophany. It is a very different matter to find out why that particular thing should have become a hierophany, or should have stopped being one at any given moment. (Mircea Eliade, Patterns in Comparative Religion, 11)

I cite this not to talk about or comment on religion, but as a brief comment on loss of meaning. How an animal, a plant, a tree, becomes an outsider to our context. Which plants can we eat? What can we build, and with what? The world makes less and less sense to us. All of the things sheltering and supporting us right now are at the same time dangers to us. Houses collapse. Pavement ruins watersheds. Etc. I don’t mean to be a tiresome old crank bemoaning the old ways, but seeing that huge moose loaded onto the back of a truck to be brought back to a place that it understood underscored the separateness of these worlds, the artifice of what we have. Not that artifice is always negative, but I can’t find the moderation.

I hope to be hopeful.

“Courting Forgetfulness”

It’s hard to know what sort of rough music

Could send our forgetfulness back into the ground,

From which the gravediggers pulled it years ago.

The first moment of the day we court forgetfulness.

Even when we are fully awake, a century can

Go by in the space of a single heartbeat.

The life we lose through forgetfulness resembles

The earth that sticks to the sides of plowshares

And the eggs the hen has abandoned in the woods.

A thousand gifts were given to us in the womb.

We lost hundreds during the forgetfulness of birth,

And we lost the old heaven on the first day of school.

Forgetfulness resembles the snow that weighs down

The fir boughs; behind our house you’ll find

A forest going on for hundreds of miles.

Robert, it’s to your credit that you remember

So many lines of Rilke, but the purpose of forgetfulness

Is to remember the last time we left this world.

(Robert Bly)

Noor spotted this. One day, I would like to have eyes as keen as hers.

Click on the picture for the full-size picture, and click again to zoom.

Goodnight, all.

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