Sunday, May 16, 2004

The Coyotes woke me up. I don't know why they howl or why the dogs join in, but when they go off, the whole gorge sound like sirens are everywhere. It is not like the wolf howl of old cowboy movies. It's more high pitched, almost a squeak that won't stop...and there are lots of them. They seem to be in groups. Three or four up behind the house, some across the creek, some below us, and some that are really close to the house. I wonder why do the dogs leave them alone if they are that close? There is some kind of truce between them. Or maybe they are afraid of each other. The coyotes and our dometicated yard dogs make a lot of noise at each other but that's it. Even the big rotwiellers over at the neighbors don't mess with the coyotes as far as I know. The coyotes come through the yard and the dogs seem to go where ever they want to in the woods and there don't seem to be any conflicts.

Also, I wonder what the main coyote diet consists of? I hear tall tales of them killing and eating calves but I don't think they actually kill them. I think they take the stillborn ones and that gives rise to the belief. No one has ever seeen them attack a calf around here and there is plenty of opportunity. We've had a good crop this year in the valley. Hamburger is everywhere you look. And as this mornings concert demonstrates, there are lots of coyotes around, so something doesn't work in that accusation. We're down on so some of the birds though. One hard working neighbor has tidied up his 200 acres, cleared the trees, cut the brush, planted hay grass, made everything neat and trimmed, and then says to me, "Something has done got all my quail!" I wonder why it never occurs to folk that there is some connection between wiping out all the places a quail has to hide from a coyote and the sudden reduction of the quail population?

But we are now out of quail here in the valley and no calves have been "killed" now that they have made it through the birthing trauma and I wonder what these things are eating? Deer? I don't think so. We see the momma's and know when the babies are born around here. The deer live amongst us like yard pets. We lose more of them to cars than hunters. The deer die off in spurts with blue tongue disease of something like that but mostly they wander around fine all year. A cold blooded animal might be able to eat voraciously once or twice a year but not a coyote. They're high energy beasts and gotta have fuel all the time. Nope, they're not eating deer, calves, or quail so what is it?

I think the answer is "everything"... Bugs, mice, weeds, and watermelon. Sounds like an old country music hit song, doesn't it? When we screw up the habitat for one animal it provides opportunity for another. If there are no quail out there in the pasture there are certainly plenty of grasshoppers and ground hogs now. I even have a ground hog, or wood chuck if you prefer, living under the cement carport at my office. They are like "Land Beavers" and have taken up residence eveywhere humans mow. I see them in nearly every community DOR (dead on the road) right alongside the possums. They look so fuzzy and cute but that has to be a ruse. They're slow! There ain't no way a nice fat, yard and garden fed, ground hog is going to outrun a coyote. You look at a ground hog's front teeth and you figure he dosn't need those things for chewing off clover blossoms. After a bit of thought over my morning bean juice, I have decided that the old tales about coyotes chewing off their legs to escape steel traps is bull pizzookie just like those tales of them killing calves. You look at the teeth on the business end of a ground hog and you have to figure there is another reason for any coyotes out there running around (running?) on three legs.

(Note to self: Keep a little further away from the Gound hog from now on!)
Well, that was fun. Now I have to moralize or this wouldn't be the Sunday Sermon, would it? Actually there is a pretty big moral in everything I just wrote having to do with unintended consequences and people being pretty much idiots when it comes to recognizing the long term result of their actions. But that isn't the sermon. I am going to have a guest sermonizer today who is much better than me at making the human race out to be morons. Kurt Vonnegut has been making us laugh and cry at ourselves for a long long time. He is an easy read and very entertaining. Let me know what you think.

Here is the teaser:

Many years ago, I was so innocent I still considered it possible that we could become the humane and reasonable America so many members of my generation used to dream of. We dreamed of such an America during the Great Depression, when there were no jobs. And then we fought and often died for that dream during the Second World War, when there was no peace.

But I know now that there is not a chance in hell of America’s becoming humane and reasonable. Because power corrupts us, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Human beings are chimpanzees who get crazy drunk on power. By saying that our leaders are power-drunk chimpanzees, am I in danger of wrecking the morale of our soldiers fighting and dying in the Middle East? Their morale, like so many bodies, is already shot to pieces. They are being treated, as I never was, like toys a rich kid got for Christmas."

Please read the rest of what he says. He is a wise man.



Friday, May 14, 2004

The one eyed man is king

Well, I woke up this morning and wondered if we had pulled out of Iraq yet. Then I found out that Rummy has solved the problem caused by all those pictures of American debauchery and torture of Iraqi prisoners...he banned cameras! There, you see how simple that was? No pictures, no problem!

I heard a former interrogator on a conservative show say that he was always taught that you didn't torture people because you just got bad intelligence. They'll say whatever you want them to in order to get you to stop. You know what that means, don't you? Those folks weren't being tortured to find out anything useful. The Guards were just plain mean and perverted!

Would you be interested in the actual number of arrests we have made in Iraq? I was kind of shocked....43,000! Of which, the Red Cross says 90% were mistakes. I guess we tortured them just to make sure they wouldn't confess to anything we didn't know about. Never can be too sure, you know.

Rumsfeld trained under Richard Nixon and knows that Nixon's only mistake was in not burning the tapes that proved he violated the Constitution. Rummy is not going to make the same mistakes...I don't mean he won't violate the Constitution, He'll just be a lot better at getting rid of the evidence.

That's why Rummy will have all the digital cameras confiscated. We'll see.

Now all he has left to do is get the Iraqis to love us and install a nice democracy of lackeys who will sell their oil only to Rummy's associates. I hope this happens soon so we can get back to fighting the war on Terror. I'm worried about something happening. it would be too convenient for Bush and Rummy if we had a major "event" just before the election.

Monday, May 10, 2004

It is interesting what you find if you hike around these Tennessee hills on a Sunday afternoon. I am sure that over the next few days, one of the things I will find is that a few blood sucking insects have tried to move in to the high rent districts on my body. I've caught several on the prowl already. It is one of the fees we pay to crawl around in the woods this time of year. I have been told that the name "tick" is from the sound fingernails make when disposing of the vile little beasts. Could be but who knows? I've found that other things I was earnestly told turned out to be false. It is good to learn this lesson in life as early as possible.

I met two couples camping together out beside the creek in one of our more remote campsites. They seemed very nice and kept a neat camp. They had two viscious watch dogs with them that I am sure would have ripped my ankles apart if they could have reached that high on my leg...looked like coyote food to me. It happens around here. I wonder why folks take a dog into the woods that will not provide but will require protection. Since these folks appeared to have spent a long time on this planet, I figure they are old enough to make their own mistakes. I was kind of proud to see somebody's grand or great grand parents out in the middle of nowhere having a good time. They were smiling and talking with one another in calm, quiet, reassured voices. There was a natural respect for others and the place where they were that I could sense.

When younger folk come out here, they usually bring guns, illegal substances, and what passes for music these days. It is not the music I dislike, actually, it is the 1100 watt noise system they seem to need to play it. That is how powerful one young man claimed his system was when I asked him to turn it off, recently. The base thumped inside my head even when I was still nearly 200 yards away. I used to play loud music too. I have only moderate hearing loss. What are these kids going to be like in 30 years having been exposed to a car sound system that is twice as powerful as my entire rock band was? At any rate the burning question is why does one leave the incessant roar of a noisy town and go to a pristine natural area in order to destroy the hearing of anyone within a quarter mile radius? If you are quiet and listen, there is music already here. I am sort of a blunt instrument where nature is concerned. I need to see a bird and have it sit there while I look it up in my field guide before I can determine what it is. My friend Pat was here Saturday and, as we walked around, Pat would name off the birds as they called invisibly from the leaf canopy. With the toads and tree frogs adding to the symphony, it was music enough for me.

I came upon another group of campers several miles away from the grandparents. Two men and a women were quietly sitting by the creek. I introduced myself and it turned out that one of the men and I knew of each other. We had actually been wanting to meet and this was the perfect situation. He was born and raised in Whites Creek gorge and his family owns most of the other side of the creek. The water is still up a bit so he was camped on my side which is fine with me. His thirteen year old son came up with a couple of fish he'd caught and we joked about how he was going to have to do better than that if we were going to have fish for supper. The kid grinned and said this was plenty enough for him, but it looked like the rest of us would have to open a can. Everybody laughed and relaxed. I noticed that the woman, who had been sitting in one man's lap when I walked up, now changed laps. All three of the adults took that moment to look at me and smile. I smiled too, told them to have a nice evening and I continued on my hike.

I was hiking while my youngest son was turkey hunting. Time was up so I called him on the radio. I had taken a looping path that would leave my new friends undisturbed and figured I'd better tell him which way I would be coming from. He was ready to go and hiked down the hill to meet me at a gravel road. He was nearly at the road when he said to me, "Dad, someone has a garden in here." "Really?" I said, "Anything growing?" "Lot's of little rows of plants," was the reply. I went to where he was and gave him a lesson in life. "Son, when you come up on something like this in a hidden spot, you tell the woods, "Oops...Sorry...Excuse me!" ...And you leave immediately. I did have to admire the effort that had been put into the "garden" by someone who was obviously not merely into personal consumption. Now I admire a hard worker and am a big proponent of free enterprise. Of the things wrong with the world, I don't think Ganja is a major item, and I actually surmise that more permanent harm will come from that 1100 watt sound system than occasional pot use. The problem here is that, unlike the campers, whoever had planted this garden on my land...was not being a good guest. I wish him no particular harm but he will have official visitors soon.

We chatted with a local officer on our drive home about the garden. He took down exact directions, asked a few other obvious questions and then looked at me with a big questioning look. There was somthing about this that he really wanted to know. In a serious tone of voice he asked, "Is the turkey hunting any good up there?" I suspect that in these last two days of turkey season those woods are going to get inspected fairly well.

I don't know what else to say except, "Oh wow, man, Peace!"