"Happy Times With God's Creation" is a coloring book our family had when I was young. Full of wonderful, detailed illustrations, it was a great book to color. But I don't know what they were thinking when they named it, because, with almost no exception, ALL the pictures had to do with cute, cuddly animals being hunted.
And occasionally eaten.
Ah, yes. Those happy times.
This evening I took a nature walk and it was as if I'd stepped between the pages of ....
I wanted to get a look at the pair of Great Horned Owls that roosts across the field from my house. Every evening about a half hour before sunset I hear them wake up and start hooting to each other as they prepare for another night of hunting.
I got the cats inside, slipped a pair of rubber boots on over my flannel jammie pants, and started across the field.
Mid-way is the famous rock pile where we found the Least Weasels earlier this summer. Noni did an amazing job photographing them, but I haven't seen them since. Well, tonight they were very active and very curious.
I just didn't have a very good lens. But I did my best.
Predator #1---check. My first predator sighted, and I hadn't even reached the owls yet! My journey forward was again interrupted by the shrill scream of an offended hawk. He had already bedded down for the night in the giant cottonwood, but objected to my presence and flew off in high dudgeon.
Predator #2---check. (Before you strain yourself looking too much, the hawk is not actually in this picture; it's just his tree)
I'd reached the edge of my little woods by now. Leaving behind the golden warmth of the setting sun, I padded softly down the dim corridors of trees.
I sounded like a herd of elephants, I'm sure (Finley's frenzied assaults on the local pheasant population didn't help any!), but I was trying to be as quiet as possible.
I knew approximately where the owls roosted, and sure enough, as I got closer one of them flew away just as I tried to take its picture. It only went a short distance, and I started another clumsy stalk.
This time I had better success and was able to squeeze off one shot before it flew to the other side of the tree patch.
Great Horned Owls are sometimes called Flying Tigers because of their fierce and daring aerial assaults. They are the only bird that will attack----and kill----porcupines. They have been known to prey on skunks, and yes, even cats. Since two of my kitties went missing this summer, I have a more than casual interest in the owls' hunting prowess.
I left the little forest and started back across the fields to my house, Finley panting happily by my side. Suddenly, my attention was arrested by a motion on the hill directly behind. A coyote had crept down, flushed a bunch of pheasants and was leaping into the air trying to catch their fleeing forms.
It is rare to see a coyote in an unguarded moment like that around here. The coyote population is vigorously hunted and all you usually see is a gray streak flashing across the fields. And as I watched, I saw not only one coyote hunting, but three others chasing the pheasants down the slope.
I wanted to watch them longer, but first I had to get Finley inside. I didn't want him getting in a fight with any coyotes (he has an ego the size of the Empire State building) and I also didn't want him flushing a bunch of birds, exposing their location to the hunting coyotes.
After chucking the indignant Finley indoors, I hurried to the back of the property. In the sunset light, I could see a coyote silhouetted against the hill.
Predator #4---check. By this time, I wouldn't have been surprised to see a grizzly!
I stood out there for quite a while, watching the sunset colors and listening to the sounds of nature. The day shift was bedding down for the night with rustles, chirps, and twitters while the night shift stretched, yawned, and stepped out to take the stage.
It was beautiful.
There was peace.
But I couldn't help thinking how God must grieve when He sees His creation filled with fear, pain, and death. Animals struggling just to stay alive to see another day, but some must die so others may live.
I think back on the events in Kenya this week, as humans hunted and killed other humans. Not for survival, but to make a religious statement. Families were shattered. People---children---were killed, spilling their life-blood onto the pavement of an ordinary shopping mall.
No, it was never supposed to be this way. And one day all these things will be ended. Nature will once again be pure----safe----eternal----the way God intended it to be.