Sunday, August 12, 2012

An Independent Woman

(Photo:  Mama goose -- an "independent woman" -- or, as some call her, "the diva.")

"Rock and Hard Place Choices"

I grew up in an Irish American home where my mother was a republican and my grandmother, a democrat.

There was often much heated political debate with members of my family basically canceling out each other's votes.

As an adult, I have mostly voted democratic, but sometimes republican depending upon how extreme I view the candidates.

I don't like extremism either to the left or the right.   More than once I have split my vote, as I will likely do this November.

I am not sure what happened to political "moderates" in this country, but they don't seem to run for elective office these days -- or even exist.   Moderates appear rather, to be going extinct as fast as thousands of animal and plant species with the impacts of climate change and habitat destruction.

It has become very tiring and frustrating in recent years to have to pick between two extremes, neither of which appeals to either my sense of justice and/or what I believe, best for the country.

My current view of democrats is that they never met an expenditure, regulation and give-a-way (nursemaid) program they did not like.

Republicans have never met a tax cut, moral platitude, war or weapon they did not like.

Both parties talk out of both sides of their mouths.

Republicans say they value "individual rights, free enterprise and liberty," while at the same time they attempt to deny some people the right to marry who they love and women the right to control the number of children they have.

Sure, republicans are all for individual rights -- as long as they conform to their religious and moral platitudes and views.

I am tired of the republican party attempting to shove its moral views down everyone else's throats and peek into bedrooms.  That is not the "individual right and freedoms" the republican party constantly preaches out of the other sides of their mouths.  Apparently, "individual rights" only apply to them.

But, the democratic party is every bit as hypocritical.

The "nothing bad should ever happen in life" party seems to believe that no one is capable of making a living, a decision, feeding themselves or sending their kids to college without government assistance and/or dictates.

Although the democratic party believes in a "woman's right to choose," and a person's right to marry who they choose, those choices apparently don't extend to a woman's right to feed  formula to a baby,  a person's right to smoke a cigarette or buy a 20 ounce bottle of coke.

One democratic Senator (Gillibrand) even took it upon herself to campaign for the destruction of 751 Canada geese from a wildlife refuge on the one-in-a- trillion chance that a plane might one day collide with one of them. (i.e. "something bad might happen someday.")

The issue and question was never put before the voters to consider and decide.  

Among the many things the democratic ("nanny") party apparently believes it has to do for us, is think.

I truly believe its time for a third party in the United States. 

One whose principles are guided by common sense, fiscal responsibility, respect for individual rights and choices and a willingness to recognize the human place and role on this planet and our fragile relationship with nature and the other animals here.

So far, (in my view) neither party meets that criteria. 

Both, have rather been seemingly taken over by extreme elements and radical special interests.  

Both are steeped in archaic, backward, "sound bite" thinking that fails to recognize long range consequences of irresponsible actions. 

And both have lost touch with the American voter, most of whom, I believe are probably just as fed up with these "rock and hard place" choices  as I am.

"Cave Man Days"

Like most people, I have been completely awed and mesmerized by the astounding physical achievements of Olympic athletes for the past two weeks (most notably, this time around, women athletes).

It seems there is no goal, no barrier, no test of physical limits or endurance and no record too high to obtain or break with determination, hard work and persistence.

Of course, most countries (and ours, particularly) greatly encourages and rewards outstanding athletic achievement and prowess.

(Indeed, the only rewards or acknowledgement for achievement I have ever won are three trophies and one "gold medal" for swimming.)

Watching the Olympics over the past two weeks has instilled the belief that there is absolutely nothing that humans cannot achieve when we put our minds to it. 

That is true not only in physical pursuits, but technological, scientific, engineering, medical, cosmetic and even the pursuits for social justice -- especially over the last century.

However, this is certainly not true when resolving our so-called "conflicts" with animals and wildlife or even just understanding and learning to peacefully co-exist with nature and wildlife.

Rather, when it comes to those issues and challenges, our attitude always seems to be, "When do we kill and how many do we kill?"

Certainly that is the most discussed question, for example, when the dilemma is "bird strikes" with planes even though it is our airliners flying into the normal air space for birds. 

It seems however, that the more responsible questions to ask should be,  "How do we better develop avian radar to detect birds in the air and how do we utilize our knowledge of birds' abilities to see UV light to develop early warning systems on planes that would prevent birds from colliding with them in the first place?

Solving these kinds of challenges would not just "remove" a bunch of birds from the skies, while leaving billions more for a plane to possibly collide with (in other words, "achieving" nothing but PR spin), but actually prevent (and solve) the problem entirely, while also recognizing the right of nature to exist.

But, apparently it is not a priority as it is simply "easier" and cheaper to kill many thousands of birds.

It seems in every area of life, humans have greatly progressed over the ages.

But, in our relationships and interactions with the other species on this planet, our actions are more in line with those from the stone age.  

Indeed, if we needed any proof of this, it seems every four years when a presidential election rolls around, we are "treated" to photos of candidates posing in front of animals they just shot or killed with a bow and arrow as if it is some kind of "selling point" for us to admire.

The only thing such photos "sell" to me is the belief that when it comes to animals and nature, humans have truly not progressed one iota from the cave man days. 

This despite all other intellectual, physical and even social justice achievements.

Without harmony, balance and peace with nature, all else ultimately becomes meaningless.

An Independent Woman

Last night, I almost lost the motivation to go to Central Park.

It was hot and muggy outside and the Olympics on TV were entertaining.

But, more than these reasons, I simply did not look forward to walking around a park and missing the sight of Canada geese who I have so come to admire and love over the years.

To me, a park without geese is like a rock concert without a band.

But, I began to get a little bored with track and field and both my dogs, Tina and Chance began to get a little antsy as the evening hours wore on as they are used to daily two mile walks.

And so it was nearly midnight when I finally decided to pull myself away from the comfort of air conditioning and TV to head north to Harlem Meer.   I figured I should at least check up  and say "hi" to Brad, Wiggly and Honker, the three domestic ducks at the Meer.

But, imagine the shock when arriving at Harlem Meer of seeing not just one "loner" goose on the water, but in fact, a gaggle of 11 geese!

I had not seen that many Canada geese at Harlem Meer since the end of last winter.

As it was so late in the night, the geese appeared to be resting in the middle of the lake.

They made no motions to come to me nor showed any signs of recognition and so I surmised them to be some random flock just stopping briefly at the Meer for a night or two.

But, as I began to toss some sunflower seeds to Brad and the gang of ducks that gathered along one of the embankments, one of the geese broke from the gaggle and headed in my direction.

When arriving to the edge of the bank, I noticed the goose had kind of strange, ruffled, wing feathers.

The goose looked at me, but did not come up on the embankment.

Hm, I thought and then took a closer look, noticing a kind of flat head top.

Oh my God!  Its Mama!!

So shocked was I seeing Mama and her family two miles away from the Boat Lake, I almost could not believe my eyes!

But, there was no mistaken the "funny, ruffled feathers,"  the flat appearance of the top of her head nor even the innocent, whimsical expression in Mama's eyes.

But, of course I should have guessed her to be Mama much sooner, just by the fact of wandering away from her gaggle.  (Geese don't normally do that.)

Mama always has the tendency to either tag far behind the rest of her flock or occasionally stay in a location while the others go or even wander away.

And although her mate, Papa goose is normally very good at keeping his gaggle together and in line, I think he has given up on trying to keep his "wife," Mama in line.

Mama seems to be a very "independent woman" with a mind seemingly her own.  While her loyalty and devotion to mate and family is unquestionable, Mama nevertheless likes to do things her way and in her own good time.

Once, during the summer molt this year, I found Mama causally by herself, hanging out on the grass near the Boat Lake cafe with a human couple who had just gotten married.  (Apparently, Mama has a soft or romantic spot for weddings.)

The next day Mama was back with her family at the usual spot north on the Boat Lake.

But, I imagine at this point, Papa is used to his spouse occasionally going off on jaunts.  If he was alarmed at all last night with his mate again wandering off, he did not show it.

I of course, approached Mama as closely as possible last night (without falling into the water) and tossed some sunflower seeds to her which she happily scooped up before the mallards could get to them.

I am positively amazed with how far Mama is actually able to fly with her "funny wings."

More than once when Mama was molting at the Boat Lake and her wings drooped and dragged along the ground, people asked if her wings were broken?  I knew that her wings were not broken, but they did not appear that she could ever fly again with them.

Nature is funny and mysterious sometimes. 

Or, perhaps it is just Mama who is funny, mysterious and oh-so-independent.

As I left Harlem Meer very late last night, I could see that Mama had turned around and on her own good time, would casually make it back to the rest of the family still far out on the lake.  (A family, by the way, that has seemingly increased by at least one goose over the past few days.   Could it be that Annie found and joined up with Mama and Papa's family?)

But, Mama was in no particular hurry.

She is a very independent woman (or, as Liana calls Mama, "the diva.")  --- PCA

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