Saturday, August 8, 2009


I don't know what it is, but I keep killing things lately.

Carolyn's dad just had heart surgery this week. He is doing well. I was leaving the parking ramp at the hospital, and noticed that on some ledges between floors, there were sprays of pigeon-deterrent spikes. Actually, first I noticed the pigeon poop everywhere. Then I noticed the spikes. Between levels 3 and 2, I noticed that some pigeon had figured out how to drop a couple of eggs between the spikes.

I don't care for pigeons. Three human diseases are known to be associated with pigeon droppings: histoplasmosis, cryptococcosis, and psittacosis.

They displace native birds.

People mistake them for doves. And I like doves.

Any way, I arched my hand and arm over the spikes, and picked up the eggs one by one. At first, I thought the perfectly white foot-ball shaped eggs may have been plastic - dummy eggs that would discourage pigeons from laying their own. But I tapped one on a railing and it cracked lightly.

I paused and considered what to do with them. I couldn't imagine how a pigeon would be able to hatch them, there among the spikes, and if they did, there would be two more sky-rats in St. Paul.

So I opened the flap on a nearby trash container, and slipped them in.

Killing things. Killed my queen, a few weeks ago, and am still feeling the death-crunch in my fingers. Granted, these pigeon eggs were not yet creatures, and I don't care for the creatures they were to become, but it was still killing. It bothers me that it wasn't that difficult for me to do. I normally don't like killing even the Asian Lady Beetles that clog my vacuum, bite painfully and stink up a room when they die.

I'm reading Karen Armstrong's history of Buddhism. With all the killing I've done lately, I'm going to be on the wheel a long time, and my next life will probably be a NYC pigeon, if the Buddhists are right. I'm hoping that there is still a chance at redemption, and that I'll recognize the chance for it when it comes.

Maybe nurturing thousands of bees will help. I feel Buddha-like when I am with my bees. My ego vanishes. I become their instrument, the sun streams through me, and the wind catches up my hair and arms and moves me like I am a marionette. There have been times when the bees and I have not been at peace. I think it is because I forgot to be mindful of them when I was with them. Christopher Reeve, the actor who was paralyzed in a horse-riding accident, said that the reason the accident happened was because he became distracted, and for an instant became at two with the horse while going over a jump. It was important to him that people realize (1) it was an accident and (2) that it wasn't his horse's fault, but his own.

So it is with the bees. Some times I know the conditions aren't right for working the bees - the air pressure is wrong, or they are agitated from a night fighting off skunks. But I have to go ahead anyway, because it is a long drive to get there and some things just have to be done when they have to be done. And I pay for it with accidentally crushed bees and stings. Those are not my favorite days in the beeyard.

Atonement cancelled out by brusk movements, by ungracious beekeeping, by killing. I don't know if there is a cosmic wheel, or a cosmic balance, in which our deeds are weighed. I suspect that pigeons following their nature would be well treated by such a device. Does my human nature include killing? And if so, will I be treated well by the device, or will I be faulted for failing to rise above my nature?

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