Speaking of entering the adult world, we just bought our first house. Or, maybe more precisely, signed a thick stack of paper promises to incrementally buy a house while we live in it and treat it like our own. This is all still sinking in, but in the mean time we’re very pleased.
A few minutes into our first visit to the loan office we noticed a mother dove tending her nest, tucked under the eaves of the building next door, her dark yellow eye staring in at us through the window. On our second visit (more papers), we brought the camera. She was gone, but now there were eggs in her nest.
Once, a couple years ago, Ash asked me, “are animals poor?”
She was 5 at the time, and I think we had just been watching swallows build their muddy nests onto the steel girders under a bridge. “Are animals poor?”
She had asked essentially this same question a couple of times earlier. Once when we were walking along the Truckee River and saw a man in ragged clothes sleeping under a picnic table. And again when we were carrying all of our food and shelter into the mountains on our backs for the night. “Are animals poor?”
Where does one begin?
I think I probably started in with some Thoreauvian patter about how, well, that all depends on what you mean by poor. How we’re wealthy in relation to all the things we can afford to, or are glad to, do without, and so on.
She didn’t seem to be buying it.
“Yeah, but I mean if animals don’t have a nice place to sleep, like people, are they poor?”
This same basic question continues to come up from time to time.
When the power goes out.
When after walking across the great concrete bridge at the mouth of the Siuslaw River, we stumble into the rising smoke and bearded faces of a hobo camp in the ferns and pines.
When a deer limps across the road at dusk, followed by her fawns.
Or when, chasing a woodpecker into the eucalyptus forest behind our motel on the Mendocino coast, we instead find the handsomely tended tent-and-tarp shelter of somebody still not returned home from work for the day.
I’m still working on a better answer.