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Killldeer by M. Pettis


Thank you all so very much for your kind and wild voices...

That is what I write, with variations on each and every donation that comes into the HUPC post office box. I am told over and over again that nobody can read my handwriting. Not quite true! Ironically, a priest, a university English professor and a doctor, all good, long-time HUPC members, have come to my aid, saying my writing is perfectly legible. The note goes on to say:
... We are honored and humbled by your kindness!

And we are! I guess I could write a new and even more personalized thank you note, but what I (we) mean to say is caught in those words: Thank you so very much for your kind and wild voices. We are honored and humbled by your support for so long-- for so very long-- decades, in fact, from many of you! This just seems like a good way to say it and mean it, from deep within my heart.

So where are we today? On the day we finally elected a new-to-be-president I emailed an article from a recent issue of SCIENCE, reviewed in this issue of the LYNX, which detailed the sobering demise of so many land and marine mammals. It was a cold, drizzly, snowy day and a dear friend emailed me back promptly and, with terse vigor, said, in essence, “...quit reading for a minute; you should be happy-- a new president and a drizzly, snowy, cold, gray day....” She knows there is no better kind of weather-day in my psyche. I smiled, knew what she meant, took no offense. I was reminded of a hike a few weeks earlier...

There was a bit of snow on the ground and it was cold and windy. The hike was long and trail-less and not a sole/soul, at least human, had been anywhere near this place for some time. What I saw or felt or where I was rests only in my heart with the exception of one rather stunning event. I had walked into some high alpine-type cliffs, looking deep into the head of canyon and sheltered from the wind. I poured a cup of coffee from my thermos. I was looking at absolutely nothing for the longest time, I guess, when I felt, I’m not sure I really saw anything, a huge presence in front of me-- only a few feet, not yards. It was one of those times when it is so hard to shake a stare.

All of a sudden I realized I was looking nose to beak, lazy, soft human eyes to sharp, directed and deeply focused eagle eyes. It was so sudden and startling that I tipped the coffee cup. Sudden and startling because I can’t, to this day, say how long we stared at one another, this golden eagle and I. I promised myself--do not move first, let her lift off and fly. But she was going nowhere and my @*#!@ left hip, right foot, shoulder and elbow just couldn’t do it. This, I know: it was at least 30 minutes before I quietly stood and left. She twitched and half spread her wings but did not move.

I thought that evening a lot about this change-talk we hear over and over. To confront global warming, do we change our individual carbon footprint, the light bulb-furnace- hang-the-laundry-outside-Prius solution or the international treaty, cap and trade carbon context? Or both? Obviously, we know the answer. Yet...

We know we should not be harvesting old forests because they are so rare and offer such important wildlife values and a meaningful buffer against climate change (see this issue’s Bookshelf). But the Forest Service insists on doing it; we have a multiple use mandate requiring us to do even wrong things seems to be the mantra.

We know allowing more ORVs and snowmobiles-- roaring about in the backcountry, further fragmenting wild places, polluting air, destroying the last silent places, harassing, intentionally or not, wildlife-- is wrong. But we have that Forest Service multiple use mandate requiring us to do even wrong things mantra.

Will the Endangered Species Act save wolves? Or lynx? Or grizz? Or wolverines? Or the full third of marine mammals threatened with extinction right now? (See the Bookshelf.) It seems so odd that the world we live in this minute is so capable of such advanced technology, but we struggle to let wolves into our lives. That is what it will take. Grizz and wolverine need lots of space away from us yet we, to this minute, are reluctant to grant such space or alter our behavior to allow such space. Wolves need our hearts to soften and let them share some of our space. Yet we struggle with these ideas.

The economy is a shambles yet we explore only growth and have come to believe only that an economy must grow upon growth. Either down deep we know better and can’t help ourselves or we haven’t thought very deeply.

The last issue of Science News reported that a bar-tailed godwit left Alaska and flew nonstop some 11,700 km (for the metrically challenged, do the math to determine the thousands upon thousands of miles this represents) for eight days without food, water or rest to her New Zealand winter home. And we believe this world is ours!

In Pilgrim at Tinker Creek Annie Dillard wrote of her moment of eye to eye understanding with a weasel. Wondrously, she also wrote this: You feel the world’s word as a tension, a hum, a single chorused note every-where the same. This is it: this hum is the silence. The silence is all there is... You take a step in the right direction to pray to this silence, and even to address the prayer to “World.”

Change means something. A big something. A daunting, big something. Then again, we have to start somewhere, somehow.

Dick Carter

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