BY KAREN SCHUMAKER
REPRINTED WITH PERMISSION KAREN SCHUMAKER
The enemies of the wild creatures are all around us and the war on wildlife is unrelenting. I begin this newsletter far away from Newhaven and observing the creatures of another forest under siege. A raccoon dare not show his face here on the land where humans have supplanted his home range with a chicken house—lest he be accused of egg stealing. The noble skunk who catches many “harmful” garden insects is likewise blasphemed with cruel and arbitrary slanders. The always-wild mountain lion is persecuted wherever his tracks in the snow are noticed by a human, and the local newspaper happily refers to his murder as an “elimination of a “threat”. Everywhere and always Brother Bear is baited and tormented and mocked and irrationally feared as a madman. Should he growl or roar (a sound normal and natural to his vocal cords and body build), his “hello” is anthropomorphized as “anger” or “rage” by trigger-happy humans. And because his magnificent strength occurs in the absence of opposable thumbs or delicate “table manners,” he is accused of coarseness and violence. Yet I have seen Brother Bear place his great paws on my fiberglass window screen and not tear or dent it—leaving only a smudge of dirty ant juice. And I have scolded him for raiding a cooler, only to find it is I who am ashamed for being rude, when he recoiled from it with great embarrassment (from not realizing it was mine) and he never again offended me with his pretty tooth holes in the white vinyl lid. I have felt his messages, in my flesh and in my heart, when he wasted his precious time to come back again to me just to communicate—to tell me nothing was required of me except that I be as real to him as he, by his nature, is always to me.
A bear needs 30,000 calories a day to fatten up to get through the winter. Don’t ever give him junk food. He may be too hungry to say no to junk that’s not good for him. Given a choice, I have seen Brother Bear pass over store-bought “delicious” apples to eat the half-wild apples I gathered from some untended garden—just as I’ve seen Mama, our cooler hole mouse, pass up store-bought bread, but completely devour a bit of melon or a carrot.
In the wild there is no time for mistakes. There’s not a second to spare for sinning. If you don’t get it right the first time, you perish. Brother Bear came to me and told me that he who doesn’t live in the moment is dying in the moment. We are not required to heap apologies on nature – only to cease and desist in this (and every subsequent) moment, from offending.
A wild bear accomplishes more in a few minutes than most humans I know (myself included) do in a day.
The deer, also, do not make false steps. Economy of energy is the Rule of the Artery to their flesh. A calm, centered spirit moves their blood from one cell to another. In their feeding and in their travels, nothing is ever wasted.
The wild creatures do not hurry—unless they are being harassed or pursued. They know that to hurry costs more energy than can be efficiently replaced.
The wild creatures don’t have problems like trying to quit coffee. They really don’t have problems at all except for the harassment and persecution from humans. Normal physical difficulties they meet with an assured wisdom and grace. The day when I can fly as high as the pine siskin—or run as fast as a chipmunk—or keep myself warm all winter in a burrow in the earth like the bear does without even blankets or a stove—then I will think that I have something to brag about. Until then I look about me and I see that these creatures have it all over us humans. We are so pathetic in our talents compared to the marvelous things they do daily.
In love and faith, for the animals,
Karen Schumaker is editor of the Newhaven News, a publication of the Newhaven Private Wildlife Sanctuary. Newhaven is dedicated to the protection and preservation of non-human indigenous species. Karen can be contacted by mail at: POB 217, Deary, ID 83823.