Illusions of nature

I love nature. I love to be out in the woods, walking among the trees. I delight (mostly) in the changing seasons. (Although I wouldn’t mind if winter was a bit shorter.) I learn so many lessons from the plants, trees, animals, and bugs that I find in the natural world.

Spending time in nature is one of the places that I find greatest peace. Except when I am forced to deal with the reminders that nature itself is ultimately not peaceful. It’s all about survival out there.

We had a series of storms go through town this afternoon, with lots of thunder and periods of rain. I got home to find that the power had gone off and all of the pond pumps were offline. The wind and rain had brought down so many leaves that the surface of the water was a solid sheet of leaves.

I immediately scrambled to begin scooping the leaves out of the water and getting the pumps back on-line, so it took me a few minutes to notice the signs that I’d lost another fish. The spattering of scales, skin, and entrails by the side of the pond made it clear that it wasn’t a “death from natural causes” either—unless you count death as prey as a natural cause, which it really is, of course.

I’m not nearly as attached to my fish as I am to my cats since I can’t spend time with them the same way, but I was still deeply disturbed to come across these grisly remains of one of my charges. It’s always hard when I lose one, but this is the first time I’ve found signs that it was a violent death. I have no idea what kind of animal would have been able to catch one of these fish (the pond is pretty deep), but it reminds me that nature is wild. Even in my relatively tame suburban world, it’s a wild kingdom.

I don’t like being reminded of the wildness and rawness of the natural world. I really prefer my illusions of peace and safety and harmony in nature. Just like I prefer my illusions of safety and security in everyday life. The anxiety of dwelling on the lack of true safety is too crippling for me to contemplate for long.

So I stick with my illusions, but at least I know that they are illusions. They are illusions that help me to function effectively, but they’re illusions nonetheless. It’s helpful sometimes to be reminded of just how sheltered I really am, though, so I don’t lose sight of the illusions I do choose to hold.

In the meantime, I need to figure out how to better keep the rest of my fish safe from whatever predator has discovered them. At least I know that my missing fish didn’t go to waste. There was almost nothing left behind uneaten, so someone out there ate well in that whole circle of interconnected life …

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