The Carpet Bagger's Journal — moving from NYC to Mississippi

July 24, 2010

Vulture Shock

A giant vulture has moved in down the street.  There goes the neighborhood.  I’ve always been in favor of integration, but biodiversity has seemed highly suspect to me.

My new neighbor

On Earth Day, in NYC, I sometimes used to go to parks and receive pamphlets about saving the planet.  I did this with about as much gusto as I went to Wigstock, the drag queen festival, to a Bolivian cultural day I once wandered into, and a variety of other demonstrations and cultural manifestations.  New York, that glorious mosaic has two or three festivals going on every non-blizzard day of the year in its streets and parks.  I was always up for enlightening myself, raising my awareness — whatever.  Earth day was only that.

Despite it being a politically incorrect sentiment, I always agreed with Katherine Hepburn’s character in The African Queen, who said, “Nature, Mister Alnaught, is what we were put here to rise above.”

In New York, that rising above normally takes place at least several floors above the sidewalks.  Nature is penned in, given its own day,Earth Day,  like the Bolivian cultural day, which represents a tile in that glorious mosaic, not that New York is secretly La Paz.  Yes, a tree grows in Brooklyn, but trust me, that tree is either in a city park, a diminutive back yard, or in a circle of soil surrounded by sidewalk.

Getting dirty in New York means either a sex shop tour followed by brunch at Restaurant O  or soot and dust — not soil all over one’s immaculate True Religion jeans.

However, every day in Vicksburg is Earth Day, and honestly, it’s starting to freak me out a little.  I mean, in Genesis, God gave Adam dominion over the animals, and I take it on good authority that I’m his distant relative.  Here, I am exposed to all that cute wildlife that used to be visible to me only if I took a very long bus ride to the Bronx Zoo.  I’m surrounded.

Since I moved here to Mississippi, in my own very, very large by Brooklyn standards (3/4 of an acre) back yard or less than a hundred yards from it, I have seen the following creatures parading around, looking like they owned the place:

  • Chipmunks
  • Squirrels
  • Deer
  • Possums
  • Raccoons
  • Hawks
  • Vultures
  • Turtles
  • Snakes
  • Bats
  • All kinds of bugs, I mean all kinds.
  • Yeti

Okay, I’m kidding about the Yeti, but we’re talking about MY backyard!  With my husband, I own this place!  Haven’t these creatures been given notice of my property lines?

I am not sure I’m ready for all this Jack London living.  I am not so much a To Build a Fire kind of a person than a To Build an Art Colony type.

And yet, all this biodiversity seems to have its limits — our planet is in crisis, just like Al Gore warned us.  From what I remember from high school biology, in an ecosystem, symbiosis occurs, creating an interdependency of existence.  Yet, in my back yard, this seems to have hit a speed bump.  The bugs attract bats, the bats attract goth kids, normally, but I’ve seen nary a goth kid since I moved here, and this in the season where those Twilight Saga films have made such an impact on our youth!  The deer might attract Dick Cheney and his hunting buddies, but he hasn’t been by, either.  Maybe the goth kids and the Dick Cheneys repel each other.  I think that explains why this ecosystem has yet to attract larger creatures.

Perhaps I am living a rustic, bucolic existence, in recluse, like Salinger, from all the hustle and bustle.  I think that this is true — there is no hustle and bustle, but in the bushes at night, inevitably, there’s a rustle.

At first this really intimidated me.  One night before I married him, my husband noticed I was slightly nervous in what is now our back yard at night.  The darkness around here at night is thick, embracing, and at night, there are all kinds of noises emanating from the dark, rustles and chirps, buzzings and flappings.

He teased me, “I guess now would be a good time to tell you about the vampire bugs out here.”

I laughed and told him I didn’t believe they existed.  Now, one vulture living in a tree later, just down the street, I’m not so sure.

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