Sunday, April 17, 2005

Two Small Tragedies

Two Small Tragedies Can Lead To...

The first tragedy -- A couple of weeks ago, we had a big rain that dumped nearly two inches in less than twelve hours. There were a number of traffic accidents, people were hurt and there were also a number of homes with flooded basements. All tragedies of a sort to those involved but not the one that effected me.

There is a "walk about" pond next to a major highway in my neighborhood that I include it in my daily walks on urban streets. I love to see the redwing black birds there in the spring, a few turtles that sun themselves, a musk rat or two and a pair of Canadian Geese who annually nest on a small "islet." In the week before the big rain, they had built their nest, a clutch of eggs were laid and the month or so of sitting had begun.

I walked by the afternoon after the rain had subsided and saw the the whole pond was flooded higher than I had ever seen it. I quickly noticed that the "islet" was under water and the geese were nowhere to be seen. The next morning, I visited early and saw that enough water had run off that the "islet" was reemerging. The geese were there and seemingly looking for their clutch of eggs and nest. Both were gone. That was the first small tragedy for me. No goslings to see in a month or two or finally figuring out how the mother goose gets her goslings across the highway before they can fly.

The pair is still in residence, feeding every day but there is no nest this year.

The second tragedy -- Last week, I was out and about early; walking swiftly and then stopped dead in my tracks. On the shoulder of the street next to me, I looked down at a bit of "road kill" a mostly flattened Peregrine Falcon. The sudden sadness and anger I felt was not just because these Falcons are rare in this area and endangered, I could still see the beauty of this "jet fighter" predator -- its swept back wings, and simply but elegantly designed talons and beak but I would never see it in action, I could only imagine it in flight.

I took it out of the street, went back home and returned with a plastic bag to put it in. I took it home, reported the death to those keeping track of the few in our area and then buried it in our back yard -- in an area where we "intern" family pets that have left us.

Both small tragedies saddened me but also got me to thinking about the beauty of the geese, the goslings, and the falcon. Their beauty is in part just an expression of their life force but in large part for us, it is in their form, coloring, grace while flying.

Yesterday, I was thinking about both small tragedies, the beauty of the geese and the falcon, and then about human beauty. What are the most beautiful, most expressive aspects or "parts" of the human animal.

The eyes, definitely -- the eyes. My father had taught me early to just look into people's eyes rather than how they dressed, how they spoke, their shape, color or anything else we often resort to in making judgments about people. And hands! People's hands are what they use to create all sorts of external beauty and often express -- as much as the eyes do -- the state of their spirit. The mouth, especially when it is formed into a smile. Somehow, I think they are all connected, aren't they.

If someone is really happy or filled with joy and spirit, their eyes, mouth and hands are all "smiling!" The phony smile is easy for most to see because you can see no "smile" in their eyes.

Smiles make us all beautiful - no? And they really are contagious, aren't they?

So just in case you need one just now because -- well just because -- I want to share with you my collection of smiles of a variety of people who put their smiles up on the web.

And if these aren't enough - go to Google or Yahoo search and under an image search, type smile and then sit back for a page full of them.

April 14, 2005, 8:45 P.M.

An added note: Just returned from another round about the local pond. I did not mention before that earlier this week, the pair of geese which had lost its eggs during the recent storm, "invited" another mating pair to the pond (they had earlier chased off all interlopers). The "invited" pair stayed and a nest was built on the "islet" today and this evening, one is sitting on a new clutch of eggs -- hooray!

Ned Hamson