Everything is attached to everything else

It would have been a great picture, the Red-tailed Hawk perched at the end of the old barn’s peak. I stopped the car and got one shot, but she was too far the lens.

As I switched to the longer glass, she took wing directly toward me, perhaps 10 feet off the ground. I think I have never had one fly so close. By the time I mounted the lens, the bird had disappeared behind me.

I think she knew, the way, many years ago, a young woman knew as she pulled her white Corvette beside my van on Interstate 70 and waved. Her hair streamed in the wind. Her eyes twinkled above a smile that offered a suggestion of warmth and mirth. As she pulled away, I noticed her license plate. N UR DRMS, it said.

I am certain I saw the same twinkle in that hawk’s eye as she winged past me.

Sitting by the lake in near solitude, listen to the breeze-rippled water play a tune on a xylophone of stone where the shore begins, the cool air passing through trees in an exhale that never quite runs out of breath. The water is inviting, but I have read that air-water temperature combination below 120F is not conducive to human longevity. The air is 54F, and I am sure the water is not more than 60F. You do the math.

A Mom and Dad walk with their youngsters, boys, about six and eight. The older lad throws rocks in the shallow water, solely for the joy of watching the splash. Not to be outdone, his brother follows suit.

Nearby, another couple sits watching the water. He has come here a lot, he tells me, and cleaned up the trash and rocks to make a good sitting place under the trees.

I ran across a quote by astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson – “Within one linear centimeter of your lower colon there lives and works more bacteria (about 100 billion) than all humans who have ever been born. Yet many people continue to assert that it is we who are in charge of the world.”

Size, it turns out, is relative – and relatively unimportant. Fish, rabbits, squirrels and cows share internal design – albeit with some modifications – with humans. We have hearts and lungs and stomachs and brains. Squoosh an ant and it seems there is only y-e-e-ch – but even insects have organs that sustain their lives. What is amazing is that two infinitesimally tiny cells can join, multiply by division, and follow a code that eventually will create those internal organs and external features that define each population.

We reside in a very narrow segment of the total existence, among nearly nine million species inhabiting our planet. We pretend to exist separately from our environment, living in it as though by our own choice, but in fact we are part of it. What makes us special is our ability to build thousand-foot-tall climate-controlled abodes, and to design and use weapons to so effectively erase members of populations we deem inferior, for no reason other than to prove we are more special than we are.

“Black lives matter,” a slogan proclaims. There were no black faces among the dead at that school in Oregon. But even the ants, wasps, elephants and apes know that an assault on one of the species is an attack on us all.

With apology to naturalist John Muir, “When one tugs at a single thing in nature, we find it attached to the rest of the cosmos.”

Indeed.

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.