by Jan Baughman
(Swans - August 29, 2005) After two rattlesnake-free years, on a recent hot day we spotted two within half an hour; a very large snake discovered by our curious dog, and a second, smaller snake coiled up in a crevice on the side of the road. "What do we do about them?" we asked the locals. "Take yer rifle and shoot 'em," they consistently replied, in utter disbelief that we do not own a gun.
Kill 'em on their turf so that you don't have to kill 'em at home. Bastard snakes and terrorists threatening our way of life...
We didn't get the gun, and we haven't seen 'em again. "Walk softly and carry a big stick" is a more comfortable approach, despite the perceived threat.
Last week, a blue jay entered the chicken coop through the hen's small door for a bite to eat, as the local birds often do. This one, however, found itself unable to relocate the door to exit -- or perhaps just panicked and stopped thinking rationally. Its commotion caught the attention of our dog, whose raison d'être is to guard the chickens, and the situation quickly escalated. I opened the large human door so that the blue jay would have ample space to fly out, but she became all the more agitated as the dog barked and chased her around the coop. Twice she found herself (gently) in his mouth, though "gently" would be my characterization and probably not hers. She finally came to rest on the coop's side fencing, clinging upside down to the chicken wire, too weak to hold herself upright, panting, heart pounding. I cradled her limp body in one hand and with the other, carefully peeled her talons one-by-one from the wire. I carried her outside and placed her on a high board by the coop where she could rest, but no sooner had I set her down did she fly a few feet to the nearest tree, as far from the threat as she could manage.
She nearly died for a few grains of seed.
While 16% of American children are overweight, according to the World Food Programme nearly 11 million children die every year in the world from hunger-related causes.
Cindy Sheehan is a modern-day Rorschach test. She is hero to the anti-war crowd; martyr to the war supporters; pawn to the so-called liberals who voted for the war on Iraq; and perhaps a thorn in the side, though probably merely an annoying mosquito, flying around the heads of the Bush administration and disturbing their otherwise perfect picnic. From this observer's perspective, her symbolism reaches beyond the anti-war message of a dead soldier's mother, to a more important statement on the ever-widening chasm between the power and the people; between rhetoric and reality.
Raise your hand if you get five weeks of paid vacation per year. Nod if your tax payer-subsidized helicopter allows you to circumvent the traffic, the urban blight, the trouble spots that assault your day and dirty your reality. Blink once if you lead such a gilded life that you find sport and amusement in chopping wood; twice if you lay awake at night troubled that your children will not receive the entirety of the multi-million dollar estate that you jokingly refer to as the "family farm." Give a shout-out if you can ride your bicycle 17 miles... without ever leaving your backyard.
"Experts" now warn that America's debt may hurt the economy -- imagine that. While the war costs mount, credit card debt averages $7,200 per household in a culture where shopping is marketed as patriotic duty, and declaring bankruptcy is soon to be treasonous.
Survival of the economic fittest is far from Darwinism; it is a phenomenon based on intelligent neoconservative design, where the powerful grow stronger and fatter off the blood and sweat of the masses, who cower under the weight of debt, and fall right through the holes in the social safety nets, forced to make harsh choices between food and medicine, not Crawford and Kennebunkport.