Quiver

QSquint to be certain. Yes, and finally. I am three miles from home. The drought has scattered prey from their usual feeding grounds into lower valleys and higher catch basins. For me, dragging a kill downhill seems more logical than huffing it uphill from the valley.

A bow and full quiver of arrows had become life saving about twelve years ago. My wife and I abandoned to the desperate city folk our little home with its central creek. Property or our lives, or both if we made our presence known. I think we made the right swap. Though we were prepared, it hasn’t been easy becoming nomads.

Does and fawns; no buck in sight. Logic dictates I take a fawn to leave the mature females to breed again. Never bucks. I need to hunt again and bucks were scarce due to the long standing sport of collecting a crown of antlers for someone’s wall, the equivalent of a silverback ape drumming his chest. Besides, a fawn would demand far less energy to transport.

The quiver lay close on the ground, one arrow lighter. To move downhill would be upwind from the group. An uphill shot isn’t my first choice. I have been getting better.

Slow, deep breaths. I exhale and let loose the arrow that is promptly followed by rifle report, which startled the group and me. Firearms were rarely used to hunt. Too valuable and drew too much attention to a person who had something for which most would kill.

The fawn had fallen in the chaos; a clean kill. Another arrow from the quiver as my guts shrivel at the thought of killing a human. A woman rises from the forest brush and turns toward the disappearing herd for another shot—at a moving target.

I will have to wait her out to tow the fawn, if she doesn’t scour the area for a chance kill from the rifle. I am unsure if I can kill a human after so many years of avoidance. I have no love for common humans. She’s stomping about a bit and hissing her Ss, perhaps cursing.

The fawn is now loaded onto the transport board without altercation. It is also nearly dark as I couldn’t risk changing position until dusk.

Click.

“I was hoping for venison stew.” Her voice is young but past childhood. “How about you leave that right here and I’ll let you leave.”

“You have the advantage, miss.” My bow and quiver are down the slope where they have been all day. I can’t decide if their location is a good thing. I hear the hammer ease.

I noisily make my way down the hill in a haphazard fashion, flailing at limbs and anything else in range. I finally drop beside the bow and quiver to look back. Struggling uphill, she had slung the rifle cross body and it rested on her back. She now has my pack and assorted gear; everything I have for hunting is on that transport board, save the items in my hand.

She looks back several times though the darkness conceals me as I nearly walk beside her. She can’t hear past her own ragged breathing and stomping to maintain traction uphill. I aim and release twice in succession.

Her screams are harrowing; I’ve disabled her arms at the biceps. The board is waiting for me. She cries, growls and kicks while I bandage her arms and set her on her feet. The rifle I take. I know she’ll not make this mistake again. Nor will I.

Now, to make it a fair distance without the scent of the fawn’s blood attracting a different sort of scavenger.

©2014 Sandra R. Davidson

Periphery

PShe was forgettable in a handy way. Quiet, she wore unremarkable clothing in analogous colors. Neutral hair of medium length, neutral skin, no beauty marks or tattoos. Her posture wasn’t open or closed, just demure, accepting. Her eyes were on the path or whatever was just below another person’s clear view of her face.

She was the new kid in high school—a sophomore—in a town of fewer than 500 people. The males were sharks, circling for a couple of weeks before deciding she wasn’t much of a thang. The females seemed not to notice her.

Heaven, though, don’t let her smile. I mean, she had a closed-lip smile that failed to reach open eyes and left her head in the down-nod position. In that sense, she smiled constantly.

The first snowy day of school, everyone took off their shoes at the wide entry hall. What a picture that made! She followed the lead of the more experienced and added her shoes. By this time, the hallway to the classrooms was a riot of bodies run-sliding in their socks. More hilarity than injury.

She picked up her backpack and stepped away from the door onto the heated floor. Her chin lifted to share surprised green eyes, and her smile bloomed. Transformed, transfixed, she hadn’t even noticed I was watching. I was always watching, curious.

Her toes wriggled inside her socks. The building was heated from below. Her brightness spontaneously spilled at random times during that first snow day.

As much as she wished, she couldn’t return fully to the periphery of attention. What is seen cannot be unseen, much to my delight.

©2014 Sandra R. Davidson

Author’s note: This is my fourth attempt at the letter P for the April A to Z writing prompt. Certainly not because I was displeased with the writing of the first three; however, each of the three became too intense to post.

 

One Art

OI have been haunted for many years by Elizabeth Bishop’s villanelle ‘One Art’.  Elizabeth Bishop chose a confining poem structure, the villanelle, to approach such a life-consuming event.

“The art of losing isn’t hard to master;” begins the poem.

I can’t find my glasses. I misplace keys then a wallet. I loan a book never returned. One starts early in life losing things. Some are of lesser value. Some seem devastating.

Read it. Find it in yourself and read it once more.

©2014 Sandra R. Davidson

Nautilus

NLiving fossils.

I love to view these in bisect. I have never considered their appearance when live. A bit like shrimp in a shell. Extinct varieties; evolving varieties.

The image here represents to me a steady progression, an intricate infinity. It is the power of life created then discarded to become part of another sort of creation, whatever that may be.

What are your images of infinity?
©2014 Sandra R. Davidson

Nautilus Cutaway

Mice, Rats, Shrews and Voles


M
Most of us want to live in or near greenery. I lived near rivers and lakes for nearly 19 years. Now the water runs down the middle of a V shaped property neighbored by forests.

Perhaps it isn’t chance that water is such a central theme in my life.

With water and green space come the ruralish woes of rodents and insects. An unsavory topic, I know.

My policy is live and let live—until the human domain I call mine is crossed. Granted, I do everything in my power to keep them from crossing the barrier invisible to them. Plug holes; remove and secure potential food sources; reduce availability of water; seal access to all buildings when possible.

A rodent can fit through any hole approximately the size of its skull. They’re designed for rapid expansion; they have to be since they’re a major food source for raptors, reptiles and even mammals. Sometimes each other. [I'll leave out the controversy of human use for other purposes. I'm talking nature here.]

Avoid those glue traps. There isn’t a way to pry an exhausted rodent from the glue without damaging the rodent and risking disease yourself. I tried. I followed the directions to the letter. And if you set the vermin out still attached to the glue trap you’re sentencing them to either a long, slow death or being easy prey. Hope for the latter. Glue traps can also stick to other living beings—larger furry or feathered ones.

Live traps are a nice idea. Little success here as rodents tend to avoid the large contraptions and even the smaller ones. Removing them to a more remote location is ideal if you manage to capture one. Oh. And check your live traps daily, please. There isn’t much use in using them only to find desiccated, moldy remains a month later. Nothing humane in that.

Please do not use poison. It has far-reaching consequences to the entire food chain, possibly including your favorite canines and felines. Poisoned rodents usually live long enough to escape before they are consumed live or dead.

The choice left is rather blunt but quick: A trap that instantly crushes the spine at the base of the skull. Most people find this idea cruel. As you can see from the above, perhaps not.

There are new traps out. [Yes, they have created a better mouse trap! Ha.] They aren’t so frightening to arm and not so disgusting to empty as the traditional wood-and-metal snap trap. Still, please check often. If checked daily, the fresh kill might fuel a scavenger and complete the food chain in a more natural way. By no means the only brand; however, I find these last longest and are as efficient as the original mouse trap. These have a clamping action to allow removal of the dead mouse without actually touching it, eliminating the eww factor and leaving the morsel free of human scent. Keep a little painter’s brush to clear any fur that might cling to the trap.

Baiting. Try something that requires force. Cheese isn’t it because it dries out and is light; a mouse caught in a trap using light bait usually gets part way backed out of the trap before the kill. Not so efficient. I like to use gumdrops. Add a little water to the bottom of the candy and it sticks right to the bait cup. I rarely have to rebait a trap because the sugar is a constant attractant and the trap a consistent killer.

One last note: Please place the traps carefully as they also attract small birds who are caught but not killed immediately or sometimes not killed at all. That was a very sad lesson since the trap was under a porch, away from the dogs and, I thought, away from other curious creatures.
©2014 Sandra R. Davidson

Love Without Fear

LIt isn’t Valentine’s Day; breathe easy.

No matter what we hear about “unconditional love,” it is a myth. There are always conditions even if they are extreme.

If you enter into an intimate relationship and you can see the end at the start, there is little point in giving only part of yourself and holding back the deeper self. You’re robbing yourself and the other individual(s).

This isn’t a passing friendship; friendships have different levels. If it is mutually understood to be a short term intimate relationship, then you can edit what you share. Important part: mutually understood.

You have no accountability to anyone but yourself, of course.

A deep relationship is love without fear. You don’t start out on day one pouring out your soul to someone, anyone. When you discover you’re looking for a long term commitment, be sure you’re clear. No hints. Put it out there in plain language. You want to have the other person(s) opt out if that is what they will do later when they eventually understand your implied intention.

Once the destination of your relationship is set at long term, hold nothing back. Love without fear. If you do, the other person(s) will.

Try not expect others, even friends, to love you the way you want to be loved. Again, be to the point if the relationship you have with anyone important to you. Even family. Even chosen family.

There are no guarantees. No promise is fail-proof. Yet you can love without fear through directness and honesty with yourself and other people you care about.

©2014 Sandra R. Davidson

Kindergarten: Personalities on display!

KThere seems always to be a Dazed kid. This one is slow moving and interacts little. What is going on behind those wide open eyes? Probably overload. A teacher’s skirt—even the child’s own shirt—is an ideal place to spot this one.

Gaggles. A tendancy to gather and converse, such as it is for kindergarteners; these social creatures are easy to spot even from a distance.

Giggles is really a most sensitive individual; however, giggling provides a great buffer. And if that doesn’t work, a punch is a good follow through.

Quiet Kindness seems born equally to gender. A crying child might escape the attention of a harried teacher’s assistant, and the Kindness child is first on the scene to comfort and offer a hand or a hug.

A Racer. The energy bottled up in one child could provide electrical power for the entire classroom if an adult could get a treadmill hooked up. Oh, wait. Never in one place.

Share-Me-Not wants everything held in the hands of others. A wake of taken toys follows “Mine.”

Toy Monster is much like Sesame Street®’s Cookie Monster without the crumbs. Taste is the primary sensory input method. I imagine this child is why toys became washable and Lysol® disinfectant spray was invented.

There’s one more oral habit often observed. Ahem. My brother tells me now that I had a tendancy to bite when I was young. I imagine that was true in kindergarten as well. We’ll call this kid, “I don’t have enough words yet!”

©2014 Sandra R. Davidson