From Inside Katrina
by Linda Foshee
I cried today for the first time in more than two weeks. The images from the Hurricane ravaged Gulf Coast and New Orleans were so unbelievably surreal that I found it hard to cry. The devastation is so widespread that it will take years for some areas to recover. Yet this morning I cried for a ‘possum.
I watched as an injured ‘possum attempted to maneuver our front lawn. It was a remarkable demonstration of the will to live. The ‘possum had more than likely been the victim of a falling tree behind our home. He had been injured so badly that his back legs no longer functioned. Yet here he was, inching toward the street taking brief pauses to rest as he struggled to surmount the distance between him and a brush pile that would afford him shade and safety.
My only option was to call animal control. I wanted this animal relieved of his misery in a humane way, but at the same time I desperately wanted him to win his battle. I wanted him to have a chance at life again as he once knew it even though I knew what the outcome must be.
As I waited for the arrival of the animal control officer, I remained with the ‘possum, shielding him from the sun with my shadow. It was the one thing I could do to ease his last moments of life.
No one in this area has been left untouched by Hurricane Katrina. The ‘possum in my front yard was simply a microcosm of the pain and suffering we have all watched these past few weeks as thousands of evacuees are struggling to resume their lives, struggling to find hope for the future.
Immediately following Katrina’s fury, Catherine Cummins of St. Gabriel, Louisiana, wrote the following words before she was able to see the images of Katrina’s fury:
By this time, I expect that many people are having "disaster fatigue" or whatever the word is for being over-saturated by images of Hurricane Katrina. However, I am not one of those people. I have yet to see any TV images because I still don't have any power or phone.
[But] what I do have images of is quite amazing, and even more humbling. As the last of the winds and rains were passing at dusk, I saw many ruby-throated hummingbirds coming to visit flowers in our garden. [They] had made it through the hurricane. I saw leaves suspended in exquisite webs woven by orb-weaver spiders. The spiders were already back mending and cleaning out the debris. Most miraculous of all, I saw a black swallowtail and sulfur butterflies feeding on the flowers along our street.
These things, which seem so delicate, are still alive and going about their business as though nothing has happened. In fact, I suspect that to them, nothing has happened. They are so well adapted to life here, which can go from lush subtropical to deadly in a day. They survive better by hiding in natural cavities than we do in our high-rise hotels. Their hiding places did not have their windows blown out or filled with water. They are immune to our waterborne disease and the wickedness of looters.
As the university where I work fills with refugees from "urban civilization," I have to wonder who is more civilized, we humans or these fragile beauties who go along at peace with nature instead of trying to control it? We could learn a lot, I think, but we have to take the time to look.
The animal control officer lifted the ‘possum gently in his hands and placed him in the truck as I made my way back to the house. I wondered if the ‘possum knew that I was offering him comfort from the hot sun and tears for all he had endured? I like to think that he did. As the pain in his eyes met the tears in my own, I was reminded that we are all connected in ways that are mysterious and beautiful. We need only to take the time to look.
Linda Foshee is a Lay Minister serving OUR HOME UNIVERSALIST UNITARIAN CHURCH in Ellisville, Mississippi.
by Rich Koster
Full Moons fill men with fall memories -
Round spun orb shining on crunchy trails,
Moons Full move flight of male fantasies -
God’s maglite dancing to the river,
Light bonding lovers,
Souls still yearning.
“Let’s take a walk to the Clark Tower by the light of the harvest moon.”
Invite them, and they will come. And they did.
But did they have anything at all like my vision for the sort of aesthetic and sensory adventure waiting just ahead?
We parked our cars, I turned my head just for a moment, and they’re off! Like a gaggle of geese floating past the reflecting pool, it was chatter, chatter, flashlights waving, heads down, souls blind, and we might just as well have been walking through the mall on an early Saturday morning.
There were 9 of us the first night, 7 the next. Before we headed out I sat the 7 down and
invited them to put their flashlights in their pockets and discover the wonder of walking by the light of the moon. I also invited them to walk slow and quiet and look around.
Which they did. For the first ten minutes or so. But by the time we got to Clark Tower the 7’s chatter was nearly as loud and penetrating as the 9.
A month later I simply put a note in the bulletin, “Full Moon Walk at Pammel State Park.”
A couple people asked me about it but when the moment came I found myself the only one there. True, I had heard rumors of a cougar seen prowling these woods. Is this why I find myself tonight alone. I wondered.
The snow lay soft and gentle on the ground. Not a whisper of a breeze and a bright high moon against a clear cobalt sky.
Oh! Two turkeys flushed just off the trail a few feet ahead. Then a coyote’s call just over the ridge. Scratchings in the snow, and a print too large for a dog. Mmmm!
I stopped to listen. Nothing.
Rich Koster is the former Editor of the UNIVERSALIST HERALD.
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