Pray to the Moon when She is round,
Luck with you will then abound,
What you seek for shall be found
On the sea or solid ground.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Living Animism: Setting Limits

Black widow spider (Latrodectus spp.)
Black widow spider (Latrodectus spp.)

Who are the persons in your neighborhood?

I had a brief but meaty telephone conversation with fellow animist Ms. Awen in which we both concurred that animism just isn't particularly Buddhist. Actually, the conversation wasn't quite that simple, but I will sum up that point of the discussion by stating that animism, being about relationships, sometimes also means dealing with survival & death & all those not so fluffy-bunny, feel-good aspects of living on this planet. It means sometimes other folks must labour or die or suffer so that you might continue living in the manner to which you are accustomed. It also sometimes means making conscious decisions & accepting responsibility for who might be adversely affected by your life way. 

The past month & a half I have been grappling quite a bit with setting limits. Setting limits is necessary in relationships. It is also necessary for healthy survival. I sometimes struggle with this in human-human relationships, though I have become much better at it with age. Setting limits with the other-than-human world is actually more difficult for me because of that sticky emotion(?): guilt

Look who I found among the kochia!
Look who I found among the kochia!
I feel guilty pulling up the kochia (Kochia scoparia) forests in my yard. It feels like I am deforesting a micro universe. I do it in small stages, allowing all the weedy denizens ample time to flee. It took me nearly the entire duration of my stay here in the high desert to complete the project doing it this way. I hope my extra care & caution helped a few wee folks, but I am sure it also took its toll in the small world. However, it has to be done because I have my own standard of living & that is something for which I must accept responsibility. It comforts me to know that other animism inclined humans have this same weed-pulling ambivalence, as I learned in a different telephone conversation with yet another far away, yet kindred human.  

I am recognizing that there are also points where I can draw the line with an assassin's pen. There is a certain ease & clarity at the point of zero tolerance. If you carry neurotoxins about in your fangs & you are ready to share them with members of my household, you must die. No relocation for you. No mercy except a swift & hopefully unexpected execution. The Black widows (Latrodectus spp.) receive no exemptions. Sometimes, when I feel badly, I remind myself that I would not tolerate a meth lab in my house, or a bear. Unfortunately, we have plagues of these venom wielders -- this gives me ample opportunity to work out those feelings of guilt.

The grey areas are actually more difficult. Take the Wind Scorpion (Solifugae spp.), for instance. Years ago, I had a friend living in this house. She said she ran upon one, literally face-to-face, in the early morning once, but I had never seen one. The idea lived on in my memory like a legend, like a tale of a mythological beast. Like Nessie, the Chupacabra or the Skunk Ape. The Wind Scorpion appeared in the kitchen & oh! Oh! OH! What to do? What to DO?!? These are the fastest creatures I have ever witnessed. The mind reels... really. I knew I would not sleep knowing that there was one of these creatures in the house. With great pandemonium, we caught it & set it loose upon the yard. After the circus of Wind Scorpion wrangling, I read that they are formidable predators who hunt black widows & I wished that I had the backbone to room comfortably with them. But I really don't know that I could get used to them.

Wind Scorpion in a grocery bag. (Solifugae)

Another grey area involves the White Footeds. That's what we call them, the Peromyscus crew that have made themselves cozy in our people house. The first White Footed I met when we returned was a particularly handsome mouse who had a problem with getting trapped in the bathtub. After several rounds of bathtub wrangling & setting the critter outside (only to have it return), it seemed that that White Footed might be done with human interaction. Oh, no. After the hospital, we returned to find the bathtub liberally smeared with White Footed feces. Again with the outside. Then, no more bathtub dance. A week or so later, I found a rotting White Footed corpse at the bottom of an outdoor garbage can. It had gotten trapped in the can & died. Was that our bathtub pal? *sigh*

A White Footed dragging pillow stuffing across the floor.
But that is only one among an uncertain number of White Footeds haunting this homestead. There is also the pillow thief & the tinfoil snackmaster. The pillow thief gets in our bed at night & steals stuffing out of the pillows. Really. No joke. I have fluff, photos & poop on the bedspread to prove it. The foil muncher has forced me to place a ban on reusing tinfoil because all our washed & rinsed foil sheets have become confetti & the process of making this orally manufactured confetti keeps me awake at night. 

The sad fact however is that the White Footeds, charming as they can be, could also become a serious problem for our life way, our beloved home & quite possibly, our health. I can forgive them for eating all the Ichiban & raiding the powdered sugar & even for storing birdseed in my sweaters. But eating the children's crayons, making nests in the puppets... Hubby says poison looms on the horizon. I say, Gah.

Where do we draw the line?

The pillow thief. Peromyscus spp.
The pillow thief. Peromyscus spp.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I missed this post! I wish WordPress would allow me to "like" Googleand other blogposts. Sigh. This is really good.

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