Saturday, July 10, 2010

Sigmund Freud Skates In and Says

Momentous Childhood Event # 17   The Squirrel 

When we lived in Georgia-- Ft. Benning to be exact-- we found there were more squirrels than we had ever seen! My brothers and sisters and i always enjoyed animals of all kinds, in no small part due to Dad's respect for life and great love of animals, so there is no (quick) explaining this painful episode
other that that it was meant to solidify some nebulous wisdom floating about in our heads. A ridding of cultural expectations, societal norms and activities; mindless idiocy, shameful blindness?
The squirrels were everywhere. There were towering pine trees with Gigantic Pine Cones, cones so big that we collected them and made sparkly glitter-tipped Christmas decorations--Free Treasure!
I imagine the pines and the squirrels had a relationship; the thickness of the forests in the area was reflected in the large squirrel population.
I have no idea if the squirrels ever caused anyone harm, other than the trauma connected with running over them in the car.
One day, for an unremembered reason, the idea was hatched that my father would give my brother and i fifty cents for every squirrel we could catch.
We immediately scurried about to find everything needed to make a box trap- the looong piece of string, the notched stick, a camouflaged box--which probably meant crayolas of various shades of green and brown--and the Bait. Probably some sort of nut or fruit.
We had fun. Wasn't that the point?
We never caught a squirrel.
But --i'm not sure but it might be true that--when my father was young, (and things were tight in big families during the depression) squirrel hunting was a common event, and actually put meat on the table! Another time, another culture, another history.
 I remember my father fashioning a sling shot and with great swiftness, he'd felled a squirrel from a tree. Wow.
He was Dad, and he was competent.
(I have always admired him, even when as an occasionally angry teenager i did not.)
But --
the squirrel was not dead.
He had to use the slingshot --there, his face right in front of the little tiny mammal, and right in front of his own little mammals--us--
to put the squirrel out of the misery we had put it in.
He quietly showed us how to clean it, telling us all the right huntsman ethics. You NEVER would kill anything you were not going to eat; that would be wrong.
But it did not matter.
He, and we, could not find a way to make this OK.
Our stomachs hurt.
He showed us how the muscles were separated from the rest, and they were wrapped correctly and put in the freezer, never to emerge except to be quietly disposed of some weeks or months later.
By the end, no one wanted to eat the squirrel, or ever kill a squirrel or anything else.

We transitioned from one culture to another I suppose, that day.
I never as an adult spoke with my father about that day, but now, in my mind it seems that he had moved from the
expected joy of teaching his kids how to "stay alive in the wilderness" by using a skill he had as a youth, perhaps even needed as a youth, to
unexpectedly teaching us that the
taking of a life was a mightily grave matter.

Pro-Life is the Buddha.
Pro-Life was my father.
My Mother, like yours, just Was Life.

2 videos:
 womenscenter squirrel video

vid of a new squirrel still skittish

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