I've had this poster by Amado Maurilio Pena Jr.for 25 years. I bought it because I love Southwest Indian pottery (and, I admit, because the colors matched our bathroom decor at the time). I came to see these women as Pena's version of Mother Nature. The black earthen pot is taking on life in utero; a birth canal opens beneath it. The women's faces are lined, and they turn away. Their angular figures resemble the topography of the desert Southwest. In this view, nature appears dry and harsh...because it is.
Children's stories are full of the give and take of nature. Suki, the Saggy-Baggy Elephant, escapes a tiger and a crocodile, and a herd of adult elephants rescues him from a lion. Augie was only two when he fell in love with that story. His mommy cringed, hating for him to know that dangers lurk. But he insisted on reading it. So every day we talked about Mommy and Daddy and grandparents being the "big elephants" who are there to protect Augie and Vi.
Little Cottontail's mother teaches him to evade the fox. But Henny Penny and her foolish, unthinking friends are outwitted, and eaten, by Foxy Loxy. We talk about it with Augie and Vi, but not in detail. Death is not yet in their vocabulary. A month or two ago, we took them to see tiny baby birds in a nest. A few days later the birds were gone. Too young to have fledged; they were probably grabbed up by a crow.The kids never asked and we never mentioned it.
|Phoenix newly hatched|
On Wednesday evening, Phoenix died in the nest. She was seen having trouble breathing, and rescuers with special equipment were on the way but she died before they could reach her. Instead, they brought Phoenix's body down from the nest and flew it to Vancouver, where tests are being done to determine cause of death. Thousands of people around the world had watched Phoenix, and there is great sadness, as you may imagine. To honor Phoenix, people are leaving Facebook tributes, sending contributions to the organization that helped in the rescue-recovery effort and volunteering with avian rescue around the world.
It is certain that every living thing will die. Most species survive at the expense of other species, keeping things in balance. And Nature is served when the less fit do not breed...hence the expression "survival of the fittest." When humans, with amazing hubris, poison and pollute and otherwise interfere, Nature produces consequences that we didn't predict and often don't like. We are diminished, whether we know it or not.
We don't yet know what killed the 11-week-old Phoenix. The vet has reported that outwardly, her body was thin but otherwise perfect (and that she probably was female). We speculate...did she eat something poisoned? Were there internal problems? Whatever the reason, I'm sad. Nature is bountiful, and harsh.