Sunday, January 22, 2017

Chapter 8 - “Follow the Blessings”

Female Mallard
Female Mallard
As I sat by the river’s edge at the end of a warm day, everything seemed quiet and peaceful. My cat Cricket had come home from the neighbor’s house two doors down where she had spent the afternoon hanging out with their cat Zero. I think what my cat liked most about going to the neighbor’s house, however, was that they had a kitten. So, every day Cricket would meow at me to let her outside so she could go over for a visit. Sometimes, the neighbor’s son would come outside with the kitten and let Cricket spend time with it. Other times, Cricket would just sit out on their back porch with Zero.

Cricket, being a Gemini, is a very chatty cat. As part of her chatter, she makes this “ech, ech, ech” noise, which is part of the reason why I named her “Cricket” because of the way she chirps and creaks. It’s similar to the noise cats make when looking at birds through a window, but, for Cricket, it is a little more as if she is trying to communicate the way we do—in syllabic sentences (which can go on and on). From the way she does it, it seems as if she thinks I know exactly what she is telling me. I can usually figure it out through paying attention to other signals, such as, “Hey, let me sit on your lap,” (i.e., chirping at me while looking at my lap), “Pet my head. No funny business, please!” (i.e., chirping at me when she wants to be petted but also chirping in an annoyed way if I accidentally touch her tummy), or “Hey, what are you doing? Why aren’t you paying attention to me?” (i.e., chirping at me while walking up to me, expecting me to drop what I’m doing to pet her).

So, while I was sitting by the river’s edge, she approached me with her familiar way of communicating as if wanting to not only tell me all about her day at the neighbor’s house, but also, “By the way, do you have some room on your lap for me to sit down?” She looked at me with a familiar gaze that let me know she was ready for me to lift my arms enough for her to comfortably seat herself.

We both sat together for a while, her purring while I petted her. Then, raising my eyes to look out onto the river, I saw that a lone female mallard had paddled up to me. She started swimming around in circles in front of me while quacking.

Cricket looked up at me, giving a little “ech,” wanting to make sure I wouldn’t become too distracted and stop petting her. However, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to pick up my pen and pad of paper beside me in order to tune in for and jot down anything that the duck wished to impart.

“Help us communicate a message. You have the power,” were the first two phrases that I would jot down.

The way the mallard duck kept quacking without stopping, I wondered if it was angry.

“You solved the puzzle!” was what I would next hear. This kind of took me aback. Then, I heard the word, “Terrorized.”

This led me to ask the mallard, “What do you feel terrorized by?” I really wasn’t sure, since this wasn’t the typical type of thing I would expect to hear when tuning into an animal. The words I wrote down from her response were, “Big machines… intrigue… capitalism… denial.”

As the mallard duck kept quacking and swimming around in a circle in front of me, I wrote down the communication, “Be courageous. Follow the blessings. Follow where the blessings lead you. Rethink industrialization. Manage consumption.”

The duck remained for a long while quacking at me. She then moved down the riverbank where my neighbors were out back and started quacking at them as well.

As I took a look around the area, I did notice that there was a lot of construction going on in many of my neighbors’ backyards. We rarely think about how we might be impinging on the territory of other forms of wildlife or of how noisy all our construction is. Even though I live by a river away from the city, I’m often surprised by how noisy it can get while I’m sitting outside. Hammers, drills, saws, bulldozers, tractors, and other machinery can, at times, create a cacophony of noise.

Then, add to this the noise of motorboats speeding down the river (some with really loud motors), cars driving on the nearby highway, and noisy lawnmowers, and it can seem as if life is communicating to us a sort of havoc where we lack the ability to be quiet anymore. Yet, as I watch the ducks paddling down the river, they seemed to embrace it all with so much calm and peacefulness. I would never think that any facet of our lifestyles left them feeling greatly disturbed. I always assumed that they acclimate the same way humans do to our human activities, which become part of what is normal for us.

As I was listening to the quacking of the duck off in the distance, Cricket started looking up at me as if to ask, “Should we head inside for the night?” So, I got up, dusted my shorts off, and headed inside the house with Cricket following close behind.

Later in the evening, as I got ready for bed, I could hear a lone duck quacking along the river’s edge. As I drifted off to sleep, I had no idea that by the following morning, a massive construction project would bring disturbance and upheaval to my peaceful place on the river.

Continue to Chapter 9 >>