Currently, I’m in the middle of a fight with three people.
Well, they’re not actually people, they’re animals, but they are just as stubborn, unreasonable, and small-minded as some of my closest friends, so it’s easy to confuse the two groups.
There is a cardinal, who for weeks has been fighting with fisticuffs, or whatever feathered version there is of that, with nearly every window I have on my house.
And on my car.
And with my head if I’m outside and happen to have extra shiny hair that day.
Obviously, one must protect one’s nestlings from intruders—even if you mistake them for your own reflection. And I, obviously, must protect a smaller-brained organism from leaving his nestlings fatherless.
But my efforts are thwarted by the cardinal’s span of territory to patrol. I cannot blackout every window to diminish the glare, as I have limited supplies and a biological need for vitamin D.
He will have to take his chances with the likelihood of beak repair.
There is also a squirrel. One who suffers from great impatience.
The rule in my childhood neighborhood, adhered to by anyone with one season of vegetable growing experience was thus: plant 1/3rd for the deer, 1/3rd for the birds, and 1/3rd for your family.
For years this directive was sage and followed by all participating creatures.
This year, I cannot get the seeds in the ground without a squirrel—one I now recognize because of the prison art tattoo on his back—digging them up the second I’ve stepped away.
First, I tried netting the box. He must have opposable thumbs. He easily unnetted the netting.
Then I tried heavy-duty tree trunk wiring. He must have tools. Unwired, and again I am seedless.
Then I just put out half a pound of already grown green beans and a sign that said YOU WIN.
(*insert squirrel snickering here)
Lastly, there is a beaver.
He is industrious. He is relentless. And he has expensive taste.
He has already struck down and carried off three massive bayberry bushes and is now working on a beautiful thick oak that will take him years to gnaw through. Gauging his angle of approach, it will likely land directly on my house.
It’s okay. I’ve got time.
But to deter him from this great specimen of timber—which may or may not survive his insatiable appetite for cellulose and lignum—I have begun laying piles of thick branches and small logs at the base of the tree. A gift. An impediment. A message that suggests If you carry on with this task, you will soon become a part of my winter wardrobe.
Nevertheless, he persists.
My next step would be to enmesh that tree with the heavy-duty tree trunk wiring, but it’s still currently in use with my next squirrel-thwarting endeavor which involves a small makeshift catapult.
I know these minor skirmishes sounds like small potatoes as we’re all muscling our way through day after day of the pandemic which forces us to revisit and ration our daily wants and needs.
But might there be a silver lining out there for many of us? The substantial amount of people who have yet to experience the oh-so-real terror of scarcity?
Is it such a bad idea—despite the fact that it has been forced upon us—to reevaluate what the word need truly means? Or to press each of us into a state of deliberative ingenuity?
I’m not suggesting we all slap on a coonskin hat and become some version of Daniel Boone, but would it be so awful to think like an Italian nonna when facing the dwindling supplies on one’s pantry shelves and you’ve got thirteen hungry bellies to fill?
I think most of us would benefit from a few hours of bootstrap thinking.
Certainly, when I look at the microcosm of The Hunger Games event I’m involved in with Mother Nature and her brood, I can see that there’s more than one way to skin a cat—or a beaver, if you will.
I see them effortfully striving, every day, for the same things: food, shelter, and the protection of one’s progeny.
That’s the focus. And I don’t blame them.
That said, being the individual with slightly more gray matter, I find it’s possible for me to not only endeavor to achieve those same things, but maybe help a few of them in their pursuit as well.
Now is the time for inventiveness, resourcefulness, and innovation. Along with that comes the eye-opening bonus of gratitude.
We may never view the necessities—the essentials of life in quite the same light. Whether you’re handing out bags of successfully grown green beans to neighbors, or you’re delivering face masks made from the hairy hide of a befallen beaver, you’ve seized the chance to be a section of a solution and not part of a problem.
Most important, this is a critical time for self-reflection. The point is none of us have to be bird-brained about any of it.
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