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Location: California

I love paper. Books printed on acid-free paper and bound in cloth turn me on. I'm crazy about bookmarks, and I buy too many stickers. I could spend hours in the build-your-own-greeting card section of my neighborhood craft store. My favorite thing to eat is bread, and my second favorite is fruit. (Mm, pineapple.) I read too much and too fast, and I watch too many food shows (two ways of looking at gluttony). Gloomy, rainy weather calms me and so I can't wait to move out of California, which will happen, sadly, too many years from now to count. I'm vegan, though I haven't managed to eliminate honey from my diet yet. I practice yoga; it's the only way I can keep fit. I have a better life than I ever imagined I would (or deserve to) have, but I do my best to enjoy it rather than feel guilty about it. That's my daily struggle -- and also to be thoughtful and observant and honest with myself.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Power Breakfast

On Monday morning a woman found a bear eating oatmeal in her kitchen. He had sneaked into the kitchen through a patio door left ajar. I heard this news on public radio yesterday. The first image that flashed through my mind was of a bear sitting at the kitchen table spooning up porridge from a cereal bowl, just like in a children's story. But of course what really must have happened was that the bear had gotten hold of one of those red and blue Quaker tubs of instant oats, torn the plastic lid off and poured the raw grains into his mouth, making a big mess on the floor.

The woman called the police. Several officers arrived but couldn't budge the bear. (I wonder how they tried to get him out. Surely they didn't just push him from behind as if he were a stalled car. Did they shout at him? Did they sweet-talk him? Did they have a hard time not bursting into laughter at the absurdity of the situation?) So they waited. I can picture the officers with their hands on their holsters, the woman still in her bathrobe watching from behind them, the bear eating away, his huge body peaceful and menacing at the same time. When he tucked away enough oats and was satisfied, he left all by himself.

I love this story. I love the fact that the woman and the officers had to wait for the bear to go away on his own. We are so used to moving fast and destroying any obstacles in our path, especially if these obstacles are put up by nature. We cut down forests, we drill for oil without thinking twice about the animal and plant life we decimate. We hunt although we don't need the meat for survival. We have invented so many tools for destruction. I remember reading that a man shot a moose that appeared in front of him on a forest path when he was hiking. We're forced very seldom these days to confront nature by ourselves, to stop and make way for and respect creatures that are bigger, evolutionarily older, and more beatiful than ourselves.

Of course it's easy for me to be philosophical from a distance. What if that bear had shown up in my kitchen? I wouldn't have been able to think of anything except how that bear could kill me with a few slaps of its paws. Nature is as cruel a place as it is beautiful. But I don't remember that very often. And I don't remember that nature has as little -- though I could just as well say, as much -- concern for me as it has for flower or a bear cub or a fungus. I forget how small I am in the grand scheme of things, big brain and self-awareness and all. It takes a bear eating oatmeal to remind me.


Blogger Michelle Fry said...

Beautifully written. I too think about how small and insignificant I am in the whole scheme of nature but it seems like day to day life doesn't encourage us to remember this.

June 25, 2006  

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