Thursday, March 27, 2014

To Eat, Or To Be Eaten?

I walked down to the mailbox yesterday, and saw this pair of lizards on my driveway.  At first I could not tell if they were trying to mate, or to fight, or to eat one another.  When I gently nudged them near the tail with my shoed foot - expecting the pair to scatter and hide from the big looming hairless ape - they both ignored me, and continued on with their intense, static, fierce struggle.
Gathering my mail, I returned to my house, walked up to my office... and saw through my window much smarter creatures who had observed my mail gathering exercise, now capitalizing on the high protein meal that my movements just pointed out to them.  Neither lizard won their epic battle.  Both began the process of being turned into crow last night.

Having walked on the beach numerous times, and taken countless bike rides, hikes, and walks through the woods and mountains, I've come to understand that everything is interconnected, no matter how much I wanted to believe it is disconnected or independent.  As I work in a home office alone (aside from my 20 year old cat familiar), all day, 5 days a week, encountering only the occasional delivery person or contractor, and I speak to dozens (or sometimes 100s) of colleagues on the phone each day, I do not interact in person, face-to-face, with that many other living creatures.  But when I do see other creatures - birds, postal workers, bees, feral cats, neighbors, trash truck drivers, lizards - I've become increasingly aware of the interconnected web, the woven fabric of how each different variable can influence the other variables.

Had I not stopped to regard the reptilian struggle on my driveway, would the crows have noticed as well?  Maybe.

When a tourist child has a bag of chips (or crisps, or crackers, or any junk food) at the beach, do the sea gulls notice?  Absolutely. (I gently admonish the tourist children, that the gulls are disease carrying flying rats who over-populate and pollute the beach, asking them to please not feed the gulls)

Did every sea gull, sand piper, and shore bird at Dana Point Strand Beach panic when a large osprey swooped down over the beach (even though the osprey was really only interested in fish)?  Indeed.

When a Ritz Carlton patron walks leaves their table at the 180BLŨ Bar and there's a 1/2 eaten bowl of chips or a plate with any remnant of food left on it, does a diligent & entrepreneurial sea gull or sparrow fly down to the table to check out what has been left there, even if a homosapien or two or three is sitting a meter or two away?  Yes, consistently.  (the two times I've seen this, I cover the other table's food with a cloth napkin, and take it to the wait staff - yes, I am the bane of scavenging water fowl)

The insects the lizards eat often times never see the lizard coming.  The lizards in their mortal struggle on my driveway never saw the crows coming (even while being picked apart by the crow, the aggressor lizard appeared to retain his bite on his opponent).  Most of the myopic homo sapiens at the beach whom I have observed never see the interactions of the larger world around them.  Being at the top of the evolutionary food chain, they're typically oblivious to any threat that Faux News doesn't scream at them, or that does not immediately threaten their life or livelihood.  I used to think and believe that I was also immune / exempt / isolated from the rest of the world and only encountered it when I chose to interact with it, "on my own terms", but increasingly I continue to find that is not the case.  All the little things matter - maybe not at first, but eventually, they probably will.

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