Not a herbal post today… not a happy post. This one can get filed in,a new category called “Tiredness”: I am tired of my empathy, tired of “humanity” and sick in my heart about a sweet faced, unassuming little spiny creature hacked to pieces by a farmer today.
Porcupette, little one. I hate that you had to live in this world. I hate that I knew you were going to die. Most of all, right now, I hate that black hearted farmer. I’m not in a good place. We humans, we have to do better. And, I despair, at the same time I summon all the hope I can.
The farmer started the hay harvest today and he plowed right over the little fellow I was talking with yesterday.
Yesterday: I was sitting out back, talking to Alex on the phone, getting my bit of VitaminD. Watching the birds and sky. Circle of cats, Ridgeback at my side. The back field was half-cut; on the left, the cut side, a movement of something black and thoughtful. Not a runner, not a cat. Lumbering, a little. Too small for a fisher, and they never come out in mid day. A skunk? “Hold on” I say to my partner “I think there’s a skunk out there. I’ll call you back”.
Danny knows the second I see, or think I see, something moving out back. It’s uncanny how I can raise the binos fifty times to look at a bird, and he never bats an eyelash. The second I see a fox, a coyote, a deer, he’s on his feet with all the fur around his ridge standing up, every muscle and nerve just crackling. He did that yesterday. I had to disappoint him, and head out to the field on my own.
There he was. A young porcupine, a “porcupette”. Ambling, lazily, delighted in the day. He stood up and eyed me, not without consternation, but no evidence of panic. “Hey” I said, affably “Porcupine. I am so pleased to meet you. Can I ask, that you don’t go into that yard there? It never ends well, I have three big canids.” I was struck by how beautiful this fellow was, cute, yes but beautiful too, a wild creature at ease with the world, eating, sniffing, exploring it all. After a few more minutes of a somewhat one-sided conversation, he decided the only way I was going to stop talking, and let him enjoy the day, was if he headed off in the other direction. Which he did.
I came in, and immediately posted to a forum I run. I wished I’d had my camera, but I didn’t think he would still be there if I ran back out and I didn’t want to chase or worry him. I found a picture that looked like him. Here it is.
And then, while I carried his image in my heart all day, I went about my business – working, herbing, the usual. This morning, taking coffee on the porch out back, I saw him again, further up the hill. “Well” I thought, “I best not take the dogs out there for a bit. ”
And then the darkness overtook me and I had such a terrible premonition. I had to shake myself out of it – no no no no no. I was shaken up, but told myself as I sometimes will, not to trust the “irrational” – it’s my fear talking. But, I know those flashes. I know them well.
An hour later the farmer came out to cut the rest of the field and my heart literally shook in my chest. I knew, right then, what was about to happen. And of course, no way to stop it. No way at all. He cut the field, and I tried to calm myself with passionflower and chamomile and roses, wishing I had some Monotropa. One’s heart can only take so much. It seems we are surrounded with suffering in the animal kingdom, is this a trial by fire I must endure? As soon as the cutting was over, I went out. I followed the turkey vultures who are quick to land and spread their wings in a show of ownership of the find. It’s ok, they are necessary and important.But I HAD to walk that hill and find it: the pathetic, mutilated body of my little friend, with his unassuming ways, sweet face and abundant delight in life.
What can we do, but weep…
One thing I take away from these observations (I have found groundhogs before, and last year, most horribly for me, a fawn) is that even the elimination of meat from our diets will not ensure that animals do not suffer at our hands. If one small field can beget such suffering, think of the whole agricultural world. Countless millions of small wild animals and ground nesting birds die horribly every year. Limiting or eliminating meat and dairy is great, if you can do it – but so important to grow food, buy locally, support small operations….we humans are doing things wrong, doing things all centered on and geared toward growth and profit and exploitation, and these innocent creatures will suffer. Not *just* in our laboratories and factory farms and in legholds everywhere, but in the fields that produce our grains and hay. A true spiritual species would never allow any of this to occur. And what can we do? well, for today, I will just light a candle and say a prayer – for all the animals slaughtered and suffering at our merciless, blind and selfish hands.
As a Pagan, I turn to Brigid, often, for solace and support, spiritual guidance and healing. Just yesterday, a writer I admire posted a prayer to Brigid on her blog. And these lines seem especially applicable.
In these times of grief and anger
And these days of stolen lives…
Pour out the quenching waters from your well.
Come, bathe our tear stained faces.
We call to you with voices raised.
I think I will adapt this as a prayer to Flidais, in memory of, my porcupette…and all the days he will not know.
Little porcupette, I will never forget you.