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Not About Primroses

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

 Evening primrose in my garden. Gratuitous color splash, nothing to do with what's spilling out of me...

Haven't felt much like blogging lately. It's felt more like something I had to do...I had to tell you all about Charlie, and then Snapperfest came up in an anonymous comment on my blog, and I was moved to investigate and then to do something about that. That post continues to draw hits, which delights me because it means people are still ticked off about it. I know I am. I've been working on a strategic angle on the whole mess that has some promise. I honestly think the animal cruelty angle, however obvious it may be to (literally) the rest of the world, is a dead end in the fine state of Indiana. Emails to Indiana's Governor Daniels protesting the event are answered with:

"The common snapping turtle is one of three turtles considered a game species in Indiana. The other two are the smooth softshell turtle and spiny softshell turtle. All three are subject to state laws that regulate their taking from the wild. Those laws include the purchase and possession of a fishing or hunting license for anyone age 18 or older, plus a daily bag limit and possession limit. Furthermore, Indiana law prohibits the sale of all native turtle species.

"Many individuals who have voiced objection to Snapperfest point to the animal cruelty laws found in Indiana Code 35-46-3. However, that law is not applicable in this instance because it provides an exemption for wild animals that are legally taken and possessed under the authority of Indiana Code 14-22.

"Thank you for your active citizenship."

Oh, you're welcome. I'm nothing if not an active citizen.

Which response apparently means that it's OK to be cruel to animals as long as you've taken them legally, in season, with the proper license. So I could torture a fox or a bobwhite quail or a white-tailed deer to death with a toothpick as long as I wounded it legally. Do you see anything right about that? Because I don't. If an animal is declared  a game species, it's left unprotected by animal cruelty laws? God help sandhill cranes if they're ever hunted in Indiana. Maybe you could wing one, then tie it up in your yard for awhile with the chickens. As I think about it, if you're going to hold leghold trapping seasons, you would have to exempt those furbearers from any animal cruelty laws, because they leave this mortal coil in a very bad way indeed.

Hmmm. Must get off that particular train of thought. It's like turning over cowpies, only what you find isn't fun creepy crawlies. Anyway, I'm not done fighting for snapping and soft-shelled turtles in Indiana, and I hope you aren't either. Still channeling grief and anger at myself on Charlie's behalf into something that might make a difference for some turtles and the kids who've been watching them being manhandled. I feel just a little bit crazy, but at least I'm aware of it. Phoebe said last night she'd like to have her fun mommy back. OK, I'm working on that, too.

 Quite the most spectacular evening primrose there ever was, and it volunteered!

Today a big bouquet of daisies and lilies with a teddy bear attached to it arrived from a reader, and her name was familiar, and I saw that she had helped me way back in another dark but memorable time, the Darryl the Bat Rabies Inoculation Event. Liam immediately appropriated the supersoft teddy bear after first cutting the pink ribbon off its neck. It was really something, to have a dazed and confused floral deliverywoman show up at my door, having punched our address into Mapquest and been sent on a wild snipe chase over hill and dale trying to find our place. When she called to say she was coming I warned her not to rely on Mapquest; it had tried to send our friend Jason down a woods road with 8" dbh trees. I gave her directions but she assured me she had them just fine. Oh, yeah, I've heard that before. Google Maps, I told her, Google Maps. Mapquest, no good. Anyway, she eventually made it and now there's this pretty bouquet from dear Ruth, with a little stack of cards from people I've never met and it all makes me cry all over again, but just because it's so sweet, to send flowers and condolence cards for a macaw they'd never seen but loved anyway.

I was reading this evening about the death of Nickolas Ashford, half of the singer/songwriter duo Ashford and Simpson, who left us this week. Apparently he was homeless when he wandered into a Baptist church because he'd heard he might get something to eat there. And there was a woman there playing piano and they struck up a conversation and wound up collaborating on songwriting for ten years before finally getting married and staying married. She wrote the music; he wrote the lyrics to songs like "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" and "I'm Gonna Make You Love Me." Inside this homeless hungry man was a poet and songwriter wanting out, and what might have become of him if he hadn't met Miss Simpson?

Evening primrose and moonrise.
 They're popping open with an audible plup!

It's the human connection that matters; the connection between us, the thing that makes you write back to me when I am hurting. That's the thing. It's clear to me that Charlie is still doing her work of keeping me company, and it seems she's been very busy scrabbling around in your hearts. Chet Baker has been hanging close with me in the studio. There's no bossy green terror kicking him out of his Studio Bed, and he can actually go into REM sleep now. I'm not sure he ever did that while Charlie was around to waddle up to him and say Move Along.  (He's sound asleep as I write.) I watched him today as he chased something, listened to him giving squeaky sleep barks as his legs twitched and galloped through a field of dreams.

Chet as a tubesock wearin' winter puppeh, a photo I haven't seen since 2006. Because who doesn't need to see that? It's a wonder that dog gets any sleep at all, as much snorgling as STILL goes on.

I'm keeping very busy cutting mats, mounting prints, making signs, and figuring out how to present a bunch of the original artwork for my new book The Bluebird Effect: Uncommon Bonds With Common Birds. I'll have a couple of panels of my show booth at the Midwest Birding Symposium dedicated to the new book. And today I made a pre-order form for the book, so people who come to the Symposium September 15-18 in Lakeside, Ohio, can have it before anyone else. It's exactly the kind of thing I need to be doing. And I'm doing all that work in Charlie's sunny little room. The countertop where she played and shredded papers is now my work surface; her view for the last dozen years is now my view. The bird feeders we put outside her window are still full of the goldfinches, cardinals and titmice she loved to watch. It feels good and right to be in there where she lived for so many years.

I'm really looking forward to the Symposium, to writing and giving a brand new talk called "Living With Birds," which is how The Bluebird Effect came to be a book, anyway.  It's about the bonds, it's all about the bonds.

My finest work, viewed through a screen lightly.
Thank you for all your kindness. It helps, it helps.


This post is beautiful and you are awesome.

True words, all.
Here is a hug and smooch for you.

i wish i was there to consume that view...

I love love love the photo of Phoebe & Liam. And the one of puppeh Chet--priceless.
I just don't know to say about Indiana--it took a very long time for folks to get rid of the awful Hegins pigeon shoot.
The hubris of some people's insistence that they can do whatever they damn well please with "dumb" animals just astounds me.

Just want you to know I always loved your Charlie posts. I can only imagine how much you must miss her. I know you won't give up the turtle fight (and I'm glad you won't!), but please, please take care of yourself.

My heart aches for you in the grief you so eloquently express. Your example of channeling that intense emotion into working for good and for the future is a lesson we can all do to learn. Thank you.

Just a thought: If your email to the governor of Indiana was as heartfelt and eloquent as your blog post (and I bet it was), would you be willing to post it here for your readers to use, replacing your name with ours? We could raise awareness about Snapperfest, posting about it on our own blogs, on Facebook, Twitter, etc. and use your "email template" to send a flood of emails to the governor.

OK, now that I have this topic stuck in my brain, I looked on FB, and there are already a few groups protesting Snapperfest. There is also this petition, which I signed. As a Californian, I had never heard of Snapperfest before your posting. I think increased awareness is the key to putting an end to this stupid, cruel event.

I know from what you have said macaws are a ton of work but have you considered getting a rescue bird needing a forever home and do it in memory of Charlie?
Time is what you nead to heal. and, yes, being extra nurturing to yourself. Grief effects the immune system and you must stay healthy for those that depend on you so very much.

A brother and sister, sitting together willingly, in quiet companionship - absolutely the best work. Well done.

"My finest work, viewed through a screen lightly."

As you mentioned earlier in the post, great things happen when you find the right collaborator.

I don't feel worthy of writing, since I can't write very well, but I feel so sad for you and am crying. Hey, this isn't about me, though. Your beautiful, sad writings about your feelings of loss for Charlie are so poignant. I'm not a very empathetic person, but when it comes to animals and humans relating to each other in such a down right honest, loving, communicative way, I am. I don't know what to say anymore except good memories are awesome. In years to come, you and your family will be laughing at her antics once more.

Hopefully, soon, I can get a picture of that black bird to send to you. Bye, bye, Charlotte

Maybe there should be a leghold trapping seasons for Indiana politicians.

Julie: I am moved by your grief and sadness over your loss of Charlie. I am a veterinarian, a pet owner and a bird lover so I understand perhaps a little more than some. In my practice, I took a lot of time with my clients who mourned the loss of their pets. Pets are every bit a member of the family. In many cases they are super-loved because they are so loyal, so understanding, and such good companions. When we become pet ‘owners’ we take on the responsibility that some day we will have to part with them. That is the tough part. We readily accept the responsibility of caring for them and loving them and do it well in most cases. They almost always give back a hundredfold. The benefit to the owner of a truly loved and well-cared-for pet is more than we can characterize or portray.

But dealing with the loss can be a heavy burden. We happily accepted them into our lives; we have to graciously part with them when the time comes. They would want that. They would want us to accept it and move on (as we know they would for us if the tables were turned). It is helpful if we can thank God for their lives and how they embellished your life and your family and then quietly put it to rest.

Julie, I know Charlie was very special to you. I know she would not want you to continue to feel bad. Having her life shortened is tough to take. Egg binding happens and is sometimes fatal. Her case was disadvantaged by her age and the misconception about her gender. Your children and Chet will get over the loss quickly. That is the way children and pets are. (I am not sure about Bill). They look forward to having you join them again in your normal, happy way. Remember that you are setting an example for your children in learning how to deal with grief.

Spoken lovingly from one of your fans/readers.

PS: I hope our paths cross sometime.

Oh, I love dog dreams.

Your writing touches so many in so many ways. As you said, it's all about the bonds. Thank you.-Anita.

Re Snapperfest: It seems to me that complaints to game wardens might be a way to harass Snapperfest to death. Do they exceed their bag and possession limits? Do all the participants have fishing licenses? What do they do with the dead and injured turtles?

Here in West Virginia, the Department of Natural Resources regulates the caliber and type of ammunition and firearms that can be used for hunting, and also has restrictions on fishing methods. There are substantial fines for violations.

If the Indiana DNR doesn't have rules about methods for taking and handling snapping turtles, perhaps public sentiment could persuade them to implement some. Besides animal cruelty, they are wasting a natural resource.

I don't approve of PETA, but this event does sound quite disgusting.

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