What is ugly?

I have just finished looking at a photo of a vulture and reading peoples comments about how ugly it is. In the photo, the bird is gazing back at the camera with a gentle inquiring look. I could see nothing ugly about this bird at all. In flight this bird is superb, so why doesn’t it get some of the praise that an eagle gets? Who decided this bird was to be denounced?

Are we influenced in our view of this bird, and others like it, because of their food source. Do we find something eating a carcase so appalling? If it wasn’t for the birds, animals, insects and other organisms dealing with a dead being, the world would be out-of-kilter. These habits are a vital link in the circle of life and death, in the processes of life on this earth.

This repulsion towards vultures is typical of the conditioned mind, which sees things in terms of black and white, good and bad, beautiful and ugly. Living and dead. Maybe people are simply frightened by death. Modern life is often far removed from the reality of life and death. We are able to accept that H2O comes in various forms – ice, steam, water – yet not able to accept that perhaps this can apply to living beings also. We fear what we do not understand.

Perhaps the answer lies then in gaining understanding of this world we live in.

Perhaps there is still hope…

This week I read an article concerning the crisis on the loss of biodiversity.

http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=7638&page=0

What makes this different from the many on the doom and gloom scenario, is that it shows a ray of hope for the future. I need to keep this ray of hope alive; sometimes I feel the flame is almost gone, and then something comes along again to fan it back to life.

Enter http://www.dancingstarfoundation.org/mission.php , an organisation which states:

The goal of Dancing Star Foundation is to help sensitize people throughout the world to the critical importance of biodiversity, animal protection and conservation; and to instill a respect for all life, which can be demonstrated by even the most modest gestures of kindness, compassion and love in our everyday lives.”

Simple isn’t it? My hope is that sooner rather than later, organisations such as this are no longer required. That all peoples on this earth do become sensitive and respectful for all life. Before it is too late.

Another Tree Falls

Yesterday I was in the city, waiting at the usual place to catch a connecting bus to my destination. Opposite the bus stop is a tiny short street off the large main one, and at the end of the street grew a tree. A most unlikely place for this tree, jammed up against the buildings as it was, but it was a welcome patch of green among the concrete and steel.

Till yesterday. By the time I arrived, the tree had been removed although the work crew were still there attending to the ‘clean-up’. Installing pavers. It is called ‘hardscaping’ and that is surely what it is. Hard. No longer is there a tree to soften the landscape, to filter the air and simply be.

I felt the pain of loss. Anger at the insensibility of it all. Pity for those who had admired the tree on their way to work and could no longer.

This act is just another example of the mindlessness taking place on this planet at this time. When will it cease? Have we run out of time? I think so……

The mice

Today I was faced with a choice. A life or death choice. Not my life, but that of a mother mouse and her brood of tiny babies.

I had pulled a bale of hay out of the stack to feed to my horse when I disturbed the family. Mother mouse crouched against the wall of the shed in fear and the babies squirmed , disturbed by the sudden light.

These are not native mice, but the European species, and a pest. They eat and mess the hay, and are quite a nuisance. The cats are meant to keep their numbers down…..

So did I call the cats to deal with the matter? My first thought was to do so, but then I hesitated. I took some hay to the horse. I looked again at the family. I walked away. Hours later when I was passing again, I checked, and there was no sign of the mice. Just what happened to them I do not know. But I know I felt I had no right to cast judgement upon them today. Another day may be different, maybe not. Once I would have not hesitated to kill them. Maybe I am just getting ‘soft’ in my older years….

Discoveries

The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” Marcel Proust

This quote came through today as the ‘Gratefulness Quote’, and it resonated with me. I often am accompanied on my walks about the nearby land by the dog, the horse and a cat or two. They are great company, and their playful antics with one another cause me to laugh often.

More than this though, they help me to find the ‘new eyes’. Just last week we all went walking over an area I have ridden over before, but not traversed on foot. It was a completely different experience. The horse was most inquisitive, alert and appeared to be enjoying herself immensely. She would trot on ahead to investigate, then return to me, and then be away again, often with the dog at her side. She is very careful of him, and despite the massive difference in their sizes they play together. Frank the cat is my shadow, never far from my side.

With these as my companions, I am alerted to the subtle nuances in the landscape which on my own, I may often miss.

My camera is more often with me than previously, as the flame of an old interest is ignited. This means that I am viewing the world frequently through the lens of the camera, or thinking whether the scene would make a good shot or not.

Finally, as the season moves on there are changes in the vegetation; it is greener, and blooms are beginning to appear in places. So there is the added interest of finding new flowers or grasses.

All these ways help me to find the ‘new eyes’. For this I am most grateful.

When the chill wind blows

For many days recently, a chill wind has been blowing. Yesterday was a day of reprieve, of a day to get washing of clothes done, and firewood collected. There were even a few moments of exposing the arms to the sunlight, before the chill descended again. But the reprieve was short lived and so I sit inside, for a change feeling glad to be inside, and sheltered from the elements.

The cats are glad to be inside also; the matriarch has the prime place in front of the fire, another sleeps on a chair, while the third is restless. He wants to be with me, but also to be outside, and so is unable to settle for long. I feel like that when the conditions are at odds with my mood, but right now, I am content to stay within, and let the storms rage outside.