Tuesday, June 21, 2011

What IS Our Problem…?

This past weekend, we enjoyed the hospitality of the Clatsop County Fairgrounds, where we sold food to attendees of the Astoria Scandinavian Midsummer Festival. This was our tenth year as a vendor at this event. They like us, we like them, and we always come away with some money in our pockets (and various goodies from the other vendors…)

Like many small county fairgrounds, this facility is located well outside of town, kind of in the middle of nowhere. But the surroundings are lovely—rolling hills, towering firs, pasture land and bubbling creeks. And the barns and outbuildings are populated by an array of wild creatures during the fifty-one weeks of the year they are not being used for livestock. My favorites are the swallows.


This year, there were several swallow nests under the eaves of the rest room building, to which we head off every morning to shower during our stay. I was enchanted by the little faces peering out of the mud-lined portals. The latest crop of youngsters was fledging—flying and swooping about the grounds nearly as skillfully as their parents, but still returning to the safety of their compact nurseries under the eaves to snuggle and rest between forays into the wide, wide world.

I could have stood and watched them for hours. Soaring, darting, chattering, enjoying their buggy meals which they acquired on the fly. As I craned my neck and shaded my eyes to follow their antics, I could feel my whole body smiling.

Sunday morning, I walked out through a depressing mist to the shower building. I looked up to the point of the roof, seeking the cheerful company of the swallow families. Instead I saw…nothing. Nothing but a pile of broken bits of mud nests on the ground beneath the place the little avian condo community had been located.

Fortunately, there were no eggs or nestlings destroyed. And the fledglings could find safety in the eaves of the nearby barns.

But I just have to ask…

Why? What is it about human beings that we are so thoughtless, so blasé, about destroying life that isn't human? More and more, I am coming to understand that creation—all things wild and wonderful about our planet—IS God. When we destroy something that seems small, insignificant, and inconvenient to us, we literally spit in the eye of the Creator.

And if the Creator was inclined to the anger and desire to punish that our puny religions so often ascribe to It, the human race would have been toast long ago.

But, honestly… I'm not too sure we won't, at some point, try the patience of the Universe beyond its capacity to endure and forgive…


  1. H E double toothpicks. Who could have possibly been offended by a few chirping birds? Why must we be so out of step with the universe ALL the time?

  2. What a terrible shame. To us, it is unthinkable so of course we can't understand. It's bad enough if someone did it because they were "bothered" for some reason. But worse, I fear it was done because someone found it "entertaining" to act destructively towards these creatures.

  3. Your question is very good. The answer either eludes me, or it is so obvious that I don't want to look at it straight on (the real nature of humanity). My heart dropped when I read the nest was gone.
    I cannot speak for humanity, only myself. Judi and I tried hard to minimize our impact on the life around us, and help out when we can (the mad dashes to grab turtles crossing a busy highway, translocating insects to outside instead of killing them, for example). Judi had a bird family being raised in the bathroom vent at her studio this spring. She simply disabled the switch for the fan and is waiting until she is sure they have fledged before having anything done to remove the nest. There has to be room for everyone to live.
    I do think that most religions are human centric, and that is used as an excuse to think of the rest of life as 'less than' or worse yet, 'here to serve us.' I think of all of life as my brothers and sisters (although I struggle, especially hard this year, with bonding with humanity).