Wednesday, December 19, 2012
A Cry of Eagles
Every evening we sit under an oak tree by our quiet pond and do our daily turtle watch. Heads pop up, fish leap, herons stalk -- there is always something to watch, and something to say.
A short distance away in the woods someone is firing a repeating pistol.
Tonight, after the murder of children in Newtown, Connecticut, the pond offers no solace, only stillness. Not one turtle, not one fish jump. But on a nearby tree a couple of eagles cry out in protest. Our national bird crying out against our national rights.
Up the road from us a small recording studio moved away and in its place there is now a Guns and Ammo store. This neighborhood isn't even on the mainland. It's on an island. "All the more reason to protect yourself," the blammer might say. Well, anyway, there are more armed households now than before, and from the sound of things, everyone is exercising their right of freedom.
I imagine these guys are innocent, comparatively speaking. Once, a while ago, a third grader whose home I was visiting (after I had visited his school), showed me his father's "secret room."
The room was hidden away behind a bookcase, which, when you pressed a button slid to the side.
I wondered if the boy was showing me a batman cave. But there were no stairs leading down. There was just this secret room, of which the boy was very proud. "Dad had this built," he said, "in case we are ever under attack."
I stared in disbelief at the hundreds of assault weapons mounted on the knotty pine walls. I saw grenades, rocket launchers, machine guns, and every kind of rapid-firing pistol and rifle you might imagine.
The feeling that came over me made me ticklish around the collar. I did not want to be there. Moreover, I did not want to see these weapons, nor have them shown to me by a child with whom I had spent part of the day telling stories. My stories were folklore; this was Hollywood.
"Who does your father think will attack?" I asked.
"The bad guys, the ones who don't believe in freedom."
Under the spreading oak by our small pond, the shooter exercises his constitutional rights.
The eagles have fallen silent. They know they are safe on our 2 1/2 acres of woodland. We have no secret rooms, no guns, no freedoms that do not include the animal world, which is what brought us here in the first place.