After the last rain, I found a chipmunk floating dead in a water bucket, unable to swim any longer. I was sick about it all day.
There is plenty of tragedy out here. Not life eats life, which we call “that’s life”, but preventable death or pain, especially due to human (my) activity. Animal death for the sake of human convenience, because a sophisticated and specialized animal hasn’t evolved fast enough to cope with human experiments like plastics and cars, that’s tragic, and it’s a tragic drama of global scale. Everywhere we look there is destruction of animals deliberately, accidentally, and indirectly.
But here, this week, it was a dead chipmunk. Here, luckily, there is much more life and joy than death and sadness (a ratio that must be necessary to preserve hope). I try, really hard, to mitigate the negative impact of our presence here. No cats. Special measures. Some species are enjoying my food provision and protection in exchange for our intrusion and pressure on them and others.
I’m sure I’m not at all big-picture balancing my use of a vehicle, consumption of plastics and dubiously sourced food, or air travel. Not even close! Just the small picture: I steal habitat, I create habitat. I introduce chickens, I introduce a food source. Etc.
There’d been a near miss before; I found one last year struggling and instinctively scooped it out before thinking that it could bite me (it didn’t, it was too tired). But this one was lost, even though I tried compressions.
She was lactating, too, so I got to imagine a carefully made cozy nest of mouse-sized chipmunklings slowly dying of starvation nearby. That’s this time of year- every dead bird, turtle, or squirrel on the highway means the loss of their offspring too.
So I was sick about it. Then this morning, on my way to feed the birds, I saw light brown movement in a brush pile. Furry bodies were oozing to the top. Little bitty brown eyed chipmunks!!
There were three! Curious and fearless, apparently emerging for the first time, probably hungry. Adorable! They made it! They were old enough to survive! They are so cute. Half sized, a little slower moving.
So naturally, I fed them. It took about 20 seconds for them to discover a dish at the base of their brush pile. They took turns. They’re going to be ok.