It’s hunting season here in the mountains. The remaining deer have found shelter for the long haul farther back in the woods; hopefully a few will winter on my land.
For a while though, they were wandering around on my property and may still be, from time to time. My land is posted against trespass for purpose of hunting, etc., because not only do I LOVE my deer, and turkeys and other critters who live out there on the back 25, but I love my own safety and that of my dogs, when we walk out there, too.
I like to think of my land on some level, as Sanctuary. Even though I know it is just as likely that they wander from my land onto my neighbors’ lands and then it’s just a question of when hunters find them, I still get some kind of satisfaction in knowing they are NOT getting shot on my land. In fact, if I hear shots that sound pretty close to my lines I have been known to go out there near to my property lines and yell pretty loudly about making sure they are not on my land with a gun.
Not that I don’t see or recognize that guns are useful. I DO. I own a gun, in fact, and am a pretty fair shot. I do not hunt- but I know I could if I had to. I just like the fact that unlike many folks around these parts, hunting season is time to watch the deer and turkeys and partridges, and other critters passing through.
I know inevitably some are killed. In fact it was shocking to find that though a deer could live to be a ripe, old age, most live just a couple years. Even more shocking was hearing living beings- deer- referred to as product by our state’s department of environmental conservation’s educators when speaking to a group of kids on a field trip I chaperoned years ago.
A living being, thought of as a product just throws me. But then…I am ALWAYS putting myself in another position, someone else’s shoes, on the receiving end of whatever, just to consider and speculate what it must be like.
There is nothing more wonderful than to be walking one of my dogs and meeting up with a deer. I remember a beloved and much mourned dog- actually a wolf- malamute mix, whom we adopted through a rescue organization, in his middle age. He weighed in at well over 100 pounds. Manitou was very wolf-like in his manner and appearance and he was affectionate, wonderfully and lovingly protective, and beautiful, as well as earning our love and respect.
(May he rest well. He passed away a few years ago and we miss him very much. I have planted roses on his grave each year since his passing.)
One day he and I were walking in wee hours of morning, and we met a good-sized buck, with a very impressive “rack” of antlers- very like Herne in his Presence. Manitou, my four-legged companion on that walk, stood at attention, tail and ears as far up as they could go, and as still as could be. The buck was correspondingly impressive, standing there with rack up, still as could be.
Deer and Manitou looked at one another for a long time.
Meanwhile, very slowly, so as not to spoil the moment, I got a really good hold on the leash, and stood by ready to restrain Manitou, just in case. I was able to appreciate that moment of mutual regard. It was what I would call, “time out of time”. No sounds, no movement, no cars going by on the nearby road, no birds breaking the silence of the moment. I felt like I was in the presence of divinity.
And then, just as suddenly as we met that big and beautiful buck, he was gone, leaving Manitou to strain a bit against the leash, and me but ultimately remembering his domesticity and that I was alpha over him.
I could not have had that moment without keeping Manitou restrained from the hunt/chase. I can’t hope to enjoy and feel awe like that if I am not extending the ideal of sanctuary to all creatures on my land. I can’t simultaneously threaten the critters and expect them to keep coming around and even to stay and raise their young, if I am not willing to uphold their safety.
One more story:
My husband was doing some work out there on the land when suddenly; a critter came running along a game trail into our field and toward him. At first, my husband thought it was a dog, a golden lab in fact. But the closer came to him, the more he could see it was no dog. Finally he saw it was a half-grown deer who still had spots, continuing to run right past him. My husband just stood still when he realized it was a deer, and watched as the poor thing ran past, mouth agape panting, with a look of fear. Later when he was telling about this experience, my husband said he could have reached right out and touched the poor thing since it was within an arm’s length of him when it ran by him.
We figured a neighbor’s dog had perhaps chased the deer or perhaps it was some other predator or source of threat. Regardless it was getting far away, where it could feel safe, heading to the back acres of my land.
I trust that if something were threatening me or mine, that someone would open sanctuary and give refuge. Manitou found refuge in our home and our hearts, through a rescue organization. He found safety within my “pack” from a threatening situation posed by a dangerous human in his life. The deer find some bit of sanctuary on my land, short-lived as that safety may be, considering they do wander to others’ lands.
It all puts me in mind of the Underground Railroad helping “funnel” folks to safety during the years of slavery, and of those who sought sanctuary in Canada so as to avoid the “meat grinder” of Vietnam. A draft is, in my opinion, also involuntary servitude (not to detract from the heinousness of forcibly kidnapping and transporting humans from their homeland to be forced workers and breeding them as if they are animals).
Which puts me in mind of the war in Iraq and how it is worsening daily, the death and wounding of body, mind and spirit, of our sons and daughters, parents, siblings and other loved ones who are serving in harm’s way.
A draft is slavery in that it essentially forces people to kill or be killed no matter their free will. Some call it the price of freedom. But the real price of freedom is to rise up and assert what is right. Involuntary servitude is a price too high for any to pay.
Right now, there is what folks are calling, a “back door” draft. This calls to duty those who are no longer active duty and may in fact be ill, infirm or aging beyond reasonable expectation of their fitness to be soldiers even if technically in reserve, against their will. And these are often grandparents and/or folks in middle-age, being called into harm’s way in a pre-emptive war based on lies and scant evidence that changes at whim to fit the direction in which PR winds are blowing.
Yes, volunteer forces signed up for their service regardless of why: the college funding, the lack of employment opportunities- but no matter why or what they signed or swore to in their induction, it was likely NOT to protect or further the lining of the deep corporate pockets belonging to Bush campaign contributors. They swore to defend our constitution, under command of the CIC (Great Spirit and Holy Mother help them) from threats foreign and domestic. (I am going out on a limb here, and saying that I consider that the Bush administration is showing daily by it’s actions …actions speak louder than words in my opinion- that they well may be a domestic threat to our Constitution.)
I watched as Rep. Charles Rangel’s (D-NY) bill about the draft (which was meant as a wake-up call to those of power, privilege and with resources to make sure their children avoid a draft) was voted down. But I tell you, that in my opinion and observation, with regard to any future draft in any form, methinks those now in control of all the branches of our government, doth protest too much and way too sanctimoniously for my taste. I find that those folks may tend to project upon others what may actually be their own tendencies and actions.
Today I am trusting that somehow, there will be Sanctuary for those who will refuse involuntary servitude to carry on this unjust and unprovoked war for profit and lies, that is as well as those wars to come in the war without end agenda. I know that treaties were signed rendering borders closed to escape from the madness, but I have faith and I trust that, as always, good people of conscience will find the way to help. Good people always find the way, no matter what.
It’s hunting season here in the mountains, and even the deer know there is safety and sanctuary somewhere out here.