The Face

27 Feb

Des Museum 2014 023

Taking this picture was quite a feat!  I approached very slowly, studying the angles, looking for just the right sun reflection. Then I knelt in front of this beautiful face and stayed motionless until my legs were crying “enough”.  At just the right moment, nose to nose with those piercing eyes, “click” and it was done.  What an amazing face!

Okay, now the real story.  Not long ago, while walking through Tucson’s wonderful Sonoran Desert Museum with my wife, she stopped in front of a canvas poster at the entryway to the outdoor park.   “Look at that beautiful creature”, she said, and I turned to find myself face to face with this stunning image.  Poster, yes.  I took a picture of a picture.  I admit it, and I would give credit to the real photographer if I knew a name, and I would ask that person “how did you feel, what did you think when your eyes met?”  What a thrilling and thoughtful moment that must have been.

I wonder what goes through the brain of an animal like this one as she looks into human eyes?  Impossible to know, yes.  But I can tell you what runs through mine.  A sense of sadness.  A wave of anger.  And I want to say “I’m sorry, beautiful friend, that you and I are not companions on this earth.  I’m sorry that you are prey to my power, an ornament for my sport, an object to control, a nuisance in my land development project.  I’m sorry that your world is shrinking and your children are hungry because my concrete world is expanding, my progress is your problem.  I don’t think this is the way it’s supposed to be.”   I shudder to think that someday the poster may be all that’s left.  Surely this is not the way it was meant to be.

Ask the eyes.

2 Responses to “The Face”

  1. Eric February 27, 2015 at 4:18 pm #

    That was powerful, Roger, and caught me by surprise. When I lived on the Atterbury Animal Sanctuary we had a bobcat who would come have her kittens in our back yard every couple of years and keep them safe under our hedges and behind the fence. When they were there we would leave them alone, but I thought of how many people might consider them a danger or nuisance and have them taken away. To me they were a treasure, even though it meant my pool and back yard were off limits for weeks during the time I wanted to use them most. It felt primal and mysterious to me, but I had that luxury because I had no children or pets that would have been in danger. In fact, I would wait until the cats were gone sometimes and still tend the compost pit or do some yard work, or even get in the pool hoping they wouldn’t return while I was out there.

    Once, sure enough, I was turning the compost and there on the wall just inches from my head was Mama Bobcat, staring at me, and we were face-to-face just like in this photo. She could have killed me in that instant. If kids or pets had been around I may have panicked and taken measures to have her removed. Instead I backed away slowly with awe and new respect, grateful for what I felt was a spiritual experience and connection with nature, mortality, and something wondrous.

    I now wonder if the new owners of my old house have similar visitations, or if the “problem” was dealt with in some way.

    Lately with all the talk of traveling to other planets, I have been thinking about the mindset behind that idea: that to survive we need to keep expanding into new territories that we can exploit rather than figure out how to live in symbiosis with this ecosystem we already call home. Is Earth really becoming just another disposable resource that we will discard once we have the ability? Even some of the “great” thinkers are saying lately that colonization of other bodies is the only way we can possibly survive as a species. That seems so wrong to me.

    Anyway, this was an engaging story that really got me thinking. Thank you.

    • rpiercetuc February 27, 2015 at 5:25 pm #

      Thanks, Eric, for sharing your encounter. Such beautiful, captivating creatures.

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