The cats and I love spring and summer .. and even some of fall. Winter is too snowy and cold, and we’re not too keen on rain; cold rain is particularly nasty.
But having so much lovely, balmy sunshine to enjoy in the warmer months … ahhh! that’s the best! By 6:30 a.m. most mornings, Lord Farlsworth, Lady Jade, and I are on the front porch, where I sip a coffee, and they survey their kingdom.
It’s a time when the world is calm and quiet. You might hear the odd dog bark off in the distance, or listen to an old clunker trying to make it up Vic Park before the muffler falls off, but overall, it is a peaceful time.
At the beginning of this summer, I began feeding a squirrel. She’s a bit of a celebrity on the street. They call her “Mama,” and you can recognize her by the fur she’s missing on her sides. Mama squirrels pull out their own fur to line their babies’ nests.
Anyway, it was probably inevitable that some of the other squirrels would want in on the peanut action. Who could blame them? Free food! And sure, they can be a pain in the butt, when they dig up my flowers to hide the nuts for leaner days, but I like to watch them enjoy their treats.
And they’re so damn cute, with their little paws and interpretive dance poses.
And a whole bag of peanuts is only .99 cents, so what the heck.
The cats don’t mind too much; they’re old. Sometimes the Lord will snarl a little, if they get too close to him. But it’s all good.
I was kind of surprised the other day, though, when something new was added to our morning.
As I tossed peanuts to my adoring fans, I noticed a few tiny sparrows, heads cocked to the side, watching the action.
And then, to my enormous surprise, the little birds began to imitate the way that the squirrels moved and behaved.
The birds were mimicking the actions of the squirrels, in hopes of getting a handout. It was something to see.
I had no seeds to give them, and wasn’t sure how to respond. So I went into the kitchen and found some fresh raspberries, which I washed and dissected into bird-sized pieces. And then I scattered the pieces in areas where the little ones congregate. Not too near the house, because … Lady Jade may be blind, but she’s still a cat.
So now I guess I’m gonna be feeding the birds as well.
On the plus side, I’m hoping there will soon be lots of help with the household chores!
But then again, after all these years, my cats still won’t so much as clean their own litter, the ungrateful buggers.
See, this is what happens to those of us whose early childhoods were shaped by Disney cartoons; we are very comfortable with the idea of animals deserving to be treated with respect, and being part of the family.
We whistle while we work, and know that a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down. We believe in magic, and of an enchanted land that can be found by travelling to the ‘second star to the right and straight on ’til morning.’
We are always ready for an adventure, and would be quite happy to follow a rabbit wearing specs and a vest down a hole, or to open a tiny door at the base of a tree to see what’s inside.
We are, it would seem, the last of the dreamers. In a cold world where it is everyone for themselves, and “I got mine, Jack,” replaces, “how can I help you?,” those of us who can’t shake off that Disney spell are ill-equipped to live in a world ruled by vengeful, egomaniacal, bigots.
We grew up when ‘men were men,’ and manly men like John Wayne were our heroes, stand up guys, who did what they said they’d do, and kept their promises. At least – that’s what we saw in the movies.
It might not all have been real, and maybe we kids of the 40s and 50s were naive and innocent of the real ways of the world.
But we did know right from wrong, and as we grew up, we learned to call out wrong when we saw it. We expected people to act honourably, even if it cost them, financially or emotionally. We took a person’s word as their vow, and believed them when they told us what they intended to do.
We called a liar, a liar, and blamed ourselves if we kept on believing anyone who continually lied to us. We expected consequences for misdeeds.
We kids of the 40s and 50s grew up to be the hippies of the 60s, and again, we may have been naive, and innocent of the ways of the world, but there was something beautiful and pure about that innocence.
Those days were good days. Perhaps it was inevitable that they would end, killed, as all beautiful things seem to be, by those who put money and their own desires and egos over the good of the many. Some of us even enjoyed being exploited. We really were very young, and not very wise.
But for many of us, we will always be those Disney kids, the ones that are a little bit off kilter, and a little too blind to ugliness. The ones with good hearts, that still ‘pay it forward,’ even when they might not have enough for themselves. The ones that see an animal in the wild, and gasp in appreciation of that natural beauty, rather than reach for a gun to kill it. The ones that will still take the time to pick up after those who would mindlessly despoil the planet, unaware of their own place in the cosmos.
It was the beliefs and the strength of people like the Disney kids that pushed forward every good thing that ever happened in our lifetimes, from the programs of the New Deal, to the establishment of civil rights, and the beginnings of universal health care. Our beliefs and marches ended a war. Progress comes from those who were nurtured to BELIEVE .. to believe in the goodness of the world, and the right of all of us – human or beast – to exist harmoniously on this planet.
There will always be the bad guys, the despoilers, the ones who want to bully and control, the ones who believe that strength is power over the weak. Always have been, always will be. What they can never understand is that their power is only temporary, and as nebulous as a dandelion seed; there is always someone with a more powerful weapon, ready to take it all away from them.
The truth is that It takes wisdom and what is called “ego strength” to actually be powerful. The part of our brain that processes threats commands us to ‘flight or fight,’ and for many, our sense of control ends there. Ego strength allows the person to tolerate feeling uncomfortable emotions for long enough to process the fear or rejection, without having to ‘discharge’ the emotions in a knee-jerk compulsion to ‘fight back. ‘
Aggressive reactivity is not strength, it’s a lack of impulse control. It is the behaviour of those who cannot see a bigger picture that is based on building alliances. They cannot recognize complexity.
In a populist world, politicians who use diplomacy are often seen as weak and indecisive. However, assuming that only brute strength can protect our lands can have grave consequences, especially in a world where nuclear weapons are ubiquitous.
These days, we’re hearing that a lot of people are having second thoughts about the vote they cast for Trump. Turns out that his repressive, regressive, and bigoted ways are having actual consequences on them, and that’s not what they voted for .. they voted for bad things to happen to ‘other’ people.
They voted for bad things to happen to ‘other’ people. And then they were shocked when it turned out that THEY were the ‘other’ people upon whom they had wished bad things.
Karma’s a bitch.
I’ll stick with my ‘naive’ Disney ways.