Nature vs. man, who’s right

The door leading from our small screened porch, built over a deck with soft rattan chairs and a somewhat rickety wooden storm door is friendlier than it sounds. There’s an antique kitchen cupboard in one corner and a couple more chairs, I call company chairs, sitting against the wall.

In the spring after one screen had blown out during Tropical Storm Alberto, we noticed a couple of birds flying in and out of the open door of our cupboard. Sure enough on the top shelf nestled behind some can of citronella candles and some Ortho mosquito spray, there it was; a conical shaped soon to be home of what my wife called Nuthatches, but that I think, with some help from Wikipedia, Carolina Wrens.

We watch them fly in and out of our screen porch during the late spring when the weather changed from a month of solid rain and gray skies to warm days and blue puffy-cloud days. The wrens (father and mother) carried inch worms and other insects to their young once they hatched. They had gotten used to Linda and I sitting just off their flight path drinking coffee in the morning and a glass or two of wine in the evening.

Then one day during our morning coffee the wren parents sat on the electrical line leading to the back of our house, not far from the porch. Their loud low-high whistle summoned the young ones from the cupboard; one at a time, the four fluttered from the cupboard catching their little claws in various parts of the screen until they found the opening. I’m told wrens are blind at the time when they leave the nest. One actual landed on my thigh for a few seconds until mama tweeted again.

Last week as I sat in our family room which adjoins the screened porch, writing pulp fiction, I had left the door open and in flew a baby wren. Apparently, he and his siblings had a nest on the porch again, even though we had fixed the screen. I don’t know how they did it but they had made another family somewhere on the porch. So, I took chase with my bum leg in tow and opened the windows in the kitchen until the little guy flew out. I heard the song of the parent on the wire again and moved to the porch to watch the spectacle. Two of the little guys were flying around the porch looking for a way to get to mama’s song. One behind the other they hit the floor and scooted out under the screen door.

Nature is an awesome thing to experience. We tend to think we’re alone in our own little world and so smart until we watch a spectacle like baby wrens flying off searching for the mother’s cry. Would I ever stand in their way or grab one and squeeze the life from it? I understand natural selection in the wild, but it has a purpose. But I think that we humans are the only species that kill each other as a result of bigotry, political or religious beliefs.

Wholesale killing more and more seems to be related to these closely related characteristics. A Carolina Wren doesn’t kill a Warbler because the wren wrote a disparaging word about the warbler. Although I will say the warbler would be justified in tweeting how much more attractive it is comparatively.

Why can’t we stop? This time a bigoted film connected to “Pastor Terry Jones, of Gainesville, Fla., who burned Qurans on the ninth anniversary of 9/11, said he spoke with the movie’s director on the phone Wednesday and said he would prayed for him. He said he has not met the filmmaker in person, but the man contacted him a few weeks ago about promoting the movie,” according to CBS News.

Most murders here are crimes of passion, of insanity. Most take place in distressed neighborhoods where discouragement and despair are often at the base of the taking of another’s life. As I watch police arrests here in Chesterfield I am alarmed at the type of arrests that take place, three murders, robberies and a kidnapping just this week.These criminals need to be off the streets. With the misdemenor charges, there always seems to be an “added value” lobbed on top. I often wonder if these are necessary and are they piled on to make sure the perp gets more time.

Chesterfield has a good drug and alcohol program, which helps a lot of the offenders get straighten out. On others it just doesn’t take. Why is that? What’s at the bottom of their psyche that won’t allow them to break free?

I sometimes think it’s an ancestral thing. Some social story told around the fireplace that lingers for generations until it comes bubbling to the surface. Not breaking loose from poverty, a son’s mother being labeled a welfare queen, cars becoming the most important thing in the hood and stigma that comes with a free lunch at school. Church missions can only nibble at edges and other than government programs disseminate through schools or funded after school programs seem to be our only hope at this time.

No international dispute at our house. It’s not a Nuthatch, it’s a Carolina Wren.  


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