I can’t unsee it.

–El D

The Hungry Raptor

The Hungry Raptor

My beautiful mistress demanded another blood sacrifice this week.

Hiram, our only boy duck that had manners, was taken out by a hungry raptor.

I was headed to work when I met the brazen beast near my car  in the midst of his macabre meal.  At first sight I was so captivated by the hawk’s beauty and proximity that it was all I could see.  I didn’t process the life being extinguished beneath his talon. And then, all at once I did, as the flood of life’s drama rushed in – the hunger, the struggle, and the sacrifice of one life for another.

Sacrifice.  When I was a child, the word conjured terrifying Biblical images of a world that made no sense: Abraham binding his son Isaac, slaughtered lambs, and gruesome crucifixions.  Such interesting tales told to Sunday school children.

Over the years, my understanding of the concept has deepened. When I became a vegetarian I began practicing what the word meant in action: to surrender or give up, or permit injury or disadvantage to, for the sake of something else.” I gave up my taste for flesh so that another life might go on for awhile longer.

My current lesson comes in noun form, “the surrender or destruction of something prized or desirable for the sake of something considered as having a higher or more pressing claim.”

Within the linguistic roots of the word sacrifice is the word sacred.  That tangle of meanings is there for good reason.  The life and death of one thing is contained within the seed of another.  Everything must eventually give way for what comes next in Life’s yearning for itself.

This brings me to the topic of the Japanese beetles.  The scarabs are pretty; their shells are an iridescent mix of greens and golds.  However, they don’t belong here. These interlopers have been fornicating all over the roses and eating up the petals and leaves. Last season I came to the conclusion that while they’re pretty, they don’t smell nearly as good as the flowers,  so I poisoned them.  Then I questioned myself about the ethics of a vegetarian destryoing a happy bug’s life — and about poisoning the air, ground, and plants with hazardous chemicals.  Skattur suggested I pick the bugs off, pack them in a box, and ship them back to Japan.  I entertained this fantastic idea briefly, then I decided to pick them off and feed them to the ducks, who seem quite satisfied with this exotic delicacy.

The first harvest of the season comes at the heels of all this sacrificial obeisance.

june 21 010

I managed to pick about a dozen blueberries before the bushes became just another elaborate system for feeding winged-things.

We have also managed to salvage some lettuce, radishes, and a few raspberries, which made a pretty salad.

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