In spite of fire season, politics, pandemic, police, and panic, there are moments of serenity in Sonoma. We look like bank robbers – masked, with eyeballs and hair sticking out — but the new silence is soothing.
I’m calmed by birds singing sweetly and by watching shy creatures skittering down streets, once blaring with fast cars. The luscious hills warm my heart in the midst of isolation and the fear of not knowing what’s next.
I perked up last week when I heard the rhythmic sound of an owl with its melodious vocals mid-day. Deer are coming closer to town, which is a treat to my hungry spirit. Every rose, perfumed by the gods, is a welcome distraction from ongoing threats of death from Covid-19. Nature revives us. A Danish study suggests that people who grow up in places with plenty of green space have a lowered incidence of psychiatric disorders.
Why, though, do we move to the country for its seductive lure of green, grape vines, and hummingbirds, breathing trees and animals, and then poison, whack, cut, cage, trap, spray, swat, or shoot them? It’s macabre.
The other night, my friend and I took a much needed, six-foot-apart-evening to relax on her porch. She vented about her brilliant yellow sunflowers: “They’re finally popping up but the snails are gobbling them.” Her hands on hips, stomping her foot: “I’m done with it. I’ve decided to buy poison.”
I choked on my pizza, muttering: “Another one of my friends has moles leaving mounds of soil all over her back yard, so she bought moth balls. But the moles just threw them back!” Chuckling, I pleaded: “Why do we long for nature and then kill it?”
Why can’t we live together? Even squirrels, hiding their nuts in porcelain pots, are the enemy, leaving dirt from their digging on our precious cement porches.
I wrestled with woodpeckers myself all month, eating my house, but they finally flew the coop, seeing the dozens of balloons, tinsel, and hanging ornaments I hung up. Someone asked if I was having a birthday party!
Whether it’s bees, fleas, raccoons, deer, moles, or mice – let’s be nice. As Chief Seattle said: “Man did not weave the web of life, he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself.”
Jane Goodall says, of the Covid-19 crisis, “Our disrespect for wild animals and our disrespect for farmed animals has created this situation where disease can spill over to infect human beings.” She warned of dire consequences if humanity fails to rapidly reform the global food system (meat processing, etc.) and stop destroying natural habitats. “If we do not do things differently, we are finished,” she said.
So, on a hot summer night recently, I awoke at three a.m. to find a big black spider on my belly (why is it always that time of night?) I decided to befriend the critter instead of heading into post- trauma terror. I whisked it off my stomach and went to the bathroom. Tip toeing back into bed, in a blur of fatigue, trying not to be prejudiced towards this little crawly being, I whispered: “Well, I guess we all live together” and I slipped back into sweet slumber.