Tag Archives: animal encounters

The year of the fox by Patricia Karamesines

Red Fox public domain

From July 2010 to December 2013, the two years following Mark’s stroke and brain surgery, he struggled to regain lost cognitive and physical ground. The hemorrhage occurred in the back of the right hemisphere of the cerebral cortex in an area of the brain that supports eyesight. During the stroke he lost more than half of his field of vision. On the day we figured out that something momentous had occurred and I rushed him to the hospital, he cocked his head to his left side, like a bird, to see the doctor and nurses. We caught the stroke too late so some of the vision loss became permanent. The change in his vision disturbed him most at night when the house turned foreign. Every little object on the floor or crease in a rug transformed into a confusing and dangerous obstacle. Continue reading The year of the fox by Patricia Karamesines

Field Notes #13 : Spider in the hand of a goodly snow

800px-Crab_spider by RedRue

Polar fleece. One of the best.  Inventions. Ever.

My admiration for this virtuous fabric prompted me to do a bit of research on it. On Wikipedia, I came across this: “Aaron Feuerstein [inventor] intentionally declined to patent polar fleece, allowing the material to be produced cheaply and widely by many vendors, leading to the material’s quick and wide acceptance.”

What a lovely man for doing this for us.

Until recently, my polar fleece jacket has been out of commission, in need of repair. I’ve been wearing an uncomfortable coat—the shell, actually, from my husband’s coat—made of polyester. The coat is much bigger, heavier, and longer than my fleece jacket but nowhere near as warm. Continue reading Field Notes #13 : Spider in the hand of a goodly snow

One Leg Up by A. J. Huffman

800px-Pink_Flamingo_@_Temaikén

Flamingos frolic in the surfless still of the sea
side morning’s pastoral.  Limbs and feathers
paint a fantastical fan, this stretching before the sun.
The water dopples,
dolloped with pink reflections.  A mirror
ed magic, reflexive of another dimension.  Alien
in pastel tones of aggressive softness, they
adamantly defend their rights
to this dance.

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To read more poetry by Huffman, go here, here, and here.

Photo by LonghornDave via Wikimedia Commons Images.

The Mechanics of Creation by Scott Hales

Model T Ford by O'Brien

“Darwin’s book was rather heavy, but by close application, the young student thought he learned what the scientist was ‘driving at.’”—Nephi Anderson, Dorian

Elder Joseph F. Smith, Jr. knows the Ford Model T as thoroughly as he knows his scriptures, and he knows those better than any man in the Church. So, with the automobile in neutral, he has little trouble guiding Brother Anderson through the process of setting the throttle and choke, adjusting the spark advance, and safely operating the hand-crank.

“You always crank with the left hand?” Brother Anderson asks after the demonstration.

“Always!” says Elder Smith. “If you use your right hand, you could lose your thumb when the engine backfires.”

“Oh, dear,” says Brother Anderson. He removes his glasses and polishes them with a pocket handkerchief.

“The Lord has provided us with a wonderful machine,” Elder Smith says. “Respect it!”

Elder Smith spends the next hour drilling Brother Anderson on the proper care and use of the Model T. They discuss the four cylinder engine, the flywheel magneto, the timer and trembler coils. He demonstrates how to use the foot pedals and handbrake, offers his opinion on gasoline and ethanol. After Brother Anderson successfully starts the engine three times, Elder Smith removes his coat, rolls up his sleeves, and shows how to change a flat tire.

“Extraordinary,” says Brother Anderson.

***
With Brother Anderson behind the wheel of his new Model T, the two men bump their way down 700 East. From the passenger’s seat, Elder Smith offers instruction about speed control, braking, and how to safely pass slow-moving vehicles. Over the sputter of the engine, he says, “Remember that you have dominion over the road. Nothing matches you in strength, speed, and mechanical sophistication. Even the streetcar, with its petty reliance on cable and track, is no match for you!”

Brother Anderson nods his head and tries to look attentive.

“Even so,” continues Elder Smith, “your dominion must be righteous. You must not lord over the road. ‘The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away.’ I have seen it happen before! Just the other day—turn here!”

Applying the brake, Brother Anderson turns haltingly onto 900 South. To his left, he thrills to see the magisterial trees of Liberty Park. With a gloved finger, he points to the park’s entrance, a wide thoroughfare flanked by two stone pedestals. “Shall we take a spin through the park?” he asks.

“Yes,” says Elder Smith, “but I must be at my office in thirty minutes.”

***
Liberty Park is full of late-summer picnickers lazing in the noonday shade. Brother Anderson steers the car south through its tree-lined lanes and admires how the landscapers have molded and shaped nature to accentuate its inborn beauty. As they pass the zoo, Brother Anderson asks Elder Smith if he has taken his children to see it.

“No,” says Elder Smith.

“You really should,” says Brother Anderson. “The elephants are a sight to see.”

“Yes,” says Elder Smith. “I saw one in a circus once. When I was a child, that is.”

“You really should take your children,” insists Brother Anderson. “My children love the zoo. Have you ever seen a chimpanzee?”

“In England.”

“Amazing creatures,” says Brother Anderson. “They almost persuade me to believe those theories about pre-Adamite man.”

Elder Smith scoffs. “You don’t suggest…?”

“Not necessarily,” says Brother Anderson. “Elder Grant and I attended a lecture in Liverpool on Darwin’s theories some years ago. They’re rather compelling.”

“Let me remind you of your Bible, Brother Anderson,” says Elder Smith. “‘And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.’”

“Certainly,” says Brother Anderson, “but is there no greater metaphor of man’s eternal progression, from lowly intelligence to divinity itself, than the monkey that evolves into a man? Does it not say in Abraham, ‘And the Gods watched those things which they had ordered until they obeyed’? Could it be that pre-Adamite man was merely disobedient…”

“And I suppose next you will tell me that these pre-Adamites lived with us in premortality. Perhaps they even pursued each other romantically, like those spirits in your storybooks.”

“Well, no…”

“Such,” says Elder Smith, “is like saying that a machine as sophisticated as this automobile has the capacity to make itself. No, Brother Anderson. Man had a creator just as the automobile has Henry Ford!”

“I am only bringing this up as a matter of speculation,” says Brother Anderson. “The chimpanzee is no doubt of a lesser order than we who are created in the image of the Father. But still, face to face with a chimpanzee…”

“Remind me,” says Elder Smith, “to give you a copy of my father’s statement on the origins of man when you drop me off at the office.”

***
With his hat brim low across his forehead, Elder Smith walks hand-in-hand with his daughters through the strange noises and smells of the zoo in Liberty Park. They see an elephant, a lion, some exotic birds, and two chimpanzees. The girls squeal with delight as one chimpanzee peels a banana and smiles at them. “Look, father!” says the youngest daughter. “He eats just like us.”

Elder Smith watches the monkey chew its food. The way its mouth moves, the way it carelessly tosses the peel to the floor of the cage, seems so vulgar and common. Elder Smith stares at the beast until it locks eyes with him. For a moment, he recognizes something in the monkey’s grimace. He gasps as it proudly shows its brown teeth and pink gums.

“Look, Papa!” his daughter shouts. “He looks like Uncle!”

“Silly goose,” he says. “He doesn’t look a thing like Uncle. Uncle is bald.”

“But he does! He does!” says the girl.

“No,” Elder Smith says, looking at the beast. “No. No. No.”

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Scott Hales1Scott Hales does not usually write fiction, but when he does, he tries to keep it around 1000 words. He blogs at A Motley Vision, Dawning of a Brighter Day, and Modern Mormon Men. He also maintains a personal Mormon literature blog, The Low-Tech World. When he isn’t writing short short stories or blogging or parenting, he is writing his doctoral dissertation on the Mormon novel.

Picture of Model T Ford by Don O’Brien via Wikimedia Commons Images.

The happen stance by Patricia Karamesines

800px-Japanese_-_Fuchi_with_Hunting_Hawk border added
Fuchi bowl (Japanese)

This is a rewrite of an earlier post published here on WIZ.

One dark night in January of 2010 Mark and I made a last minute run to the only grocery store within 22 miles. On our return trip home, I drove with the SUV’s highbeams on, because we live on a rural road where, even in winter, we’re likely to come across a wide variety of animals on the pavement, anything from cats, rabbits, deer, mice, coyotes, and foxes to neighbors’ loose horses and cattle. In spring and summer, the variety of animal-on-road is even wider.

As we arced along a curve, the vehicle’s lights splashed against something moving on the road. A small cottontail had emerged from cover, probably looking for something to eat at the road’s edges where the unusually heavy and long-lingering snow had melted back from the asphalt’s edges.

“A bunny,” I said. The rabbit hopped straight for us and I slowed down. As the vehicle edged to a stop, we saw another flash in the headlights, high up in the air to our right. A great horned owl dropped out of the darkness into the swath of our headlights, swinging its talons out toward the rabbit, working its wings to correct its aim.

“Whoa!” we both said, surprised by the sudden drama. The cottontail feinted right, seemingly away from the owl but still heading toward the car. The owl hesitated midair, quite possibly blinded by our headlights, then tumbled to the ground a good two feet off its away-running target. For a moment, the bird sat on the roadside, staring after the rabbit. It looked like it was considering giving chase but, glancing at us, seemed to decide the risk wasn’t worth it. The opportunity had passed. With another flash of wings, the big bird lifted away into the darkness above the highbeams. Continue reading The happen stance by Patricia Karamesines

Degrees of Coyoteness by Patricia Karamesines

Coyote_arizona

This is a rewrite of a post published here on WIZ that I’m including in my book Crossfire Canyon. I’m posting the rewrite today in response to finding a bounty-killed coyote on this morning’s walk.

April 8, 2009. As I walked out of a nearby canyon last week along a trail where I had previously encountered a curious coyote, my nose detected gases given off by putrefaction. Somewhere nearby, bacteria were at work breaking down formerly living tissue to simpler matter, dispersing an organism’s worldly good to its biological heritors.

To this we must all come. But who has come to it now, and where?

Walking deeper into the field of decomposition gases, I searched the ground, guessing what I would find. I was approaching the gravel pit, a dumping ground for domestic and wild animal carcasses and the scene of occasional war crimes of the sort some people commit against animals. It’s common to find coyote remains around the pit, along with elk and deer carcasses, tree prunings, the ashes of bonfires, articles of clothing, and aerosol cans–the residue of “huffing” parties.

My eyes had difficulty picking out the body of the coyote because his full winter regalia of desert-soils-hued fur blended in well where he had been dumped against the weathered juniper barricade a rancher erected decades ago to prevent cattle from wandering. I’m guessing the coyote was an adult male because of the animal’s size. Wind ruffled the luxuriant fur, and my own hand felt drawn to touch. But I didn’t. Touching the coyote might spark a response that under the circumstances I wasn’t prepared to support. Continue reading Degrees of Coyoteness by Patricia Karamesines

Angel by Harlow S. Clark

Bastet Walters Art Museum

Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels
— Colossians 2:18

She thinks I am praying to her
Kneeling before her
Extending my hands to her

Her Egyptian ancestors earned their worship
Guarding food from mice, fighting cobras
Giving shape to perfume and ointment jars

Instead she beguiles her reward of me
Butting my hand with her head
Working her head under my palm
Waiting for my stroke along neck, back and tail
A nip on hand or arm if I don’t start over

When I stand she jumps off the bed
Sleeks the cat-lengths to the kitchen door
Leading me, pointing me, to her food
She does not worry that a full bowl may stale
She wants to see my hand go into the bag
To know there’s extra to cover the toy mice who live in her bowl

II

See thou do it not
–Revelation 22:9

“Angel’s gotten into a bag of feathers under the bed”
Soft as down, but not down
Scattered down the floor
Clumps of tortoise shell instead
Too late in the year to shed
No, she’s pulling hair from any place she can groom

No fleas in Utah, vet says, giving allergy shot
Clumps still scatter the floor
Cats can be OCD, Internet says, they don’t like change
She didn’t pull her hair for the rabbits
(Since killed by neighboring dogs)
Just snubbed Matthew for a time, times, half a time

A shot of progestrone helps OCD, vet says, but fur still downs the floor
Even “Listen Missy Moo, what do you think you’re doing?”
Doesn’t clean the floor
Her lower half shifts from tortoise shell to pink
When she sits her haunches, front legs holding her in a half stand
She looks less like Egyptian-mice-fattened Bastet
Than a scraggly, starving stray

Seeking my hand on her head
She looks more like one to pray for than to

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Harlow Clark lives and writes in Pleasant Grove, Utah, with his wife and son. In the year since Harlow wrote “Angel,” Matthew has transformed the play yard swing set and slide into a dog-proof rabbit cage and gotten two rabbits, who spent much of January and February in the downstairs bathtub after the weatherman advised bringing pets into the garage the family doesn’t have for the night. He is still cleaning the rabbit stains out of the tub. Matthew also has goldfish, bettas, assorted tropicals and 2 acquatic frogs swimming around the house. Angel stopped pulling out her hair for a time, but during the winter it has been appearing all over the house, though not as bad as before.

Thank you, 2012 LONNOL participants!

Valentine_Antique image woman bird cupids

Wilderness Interface Zone would like to thank participants who put their hearts in our Love of Nature Nature of Love Month.  The list includes:

Elizabeth Pinborough
Kathryn Knight
Gail White
Ashley Suzanne Musick
Sarah Dunster
Chanel Earl
Sarah Dunster
Mark Penny
Laura Craner
Gerard Manley Hopkins
Jonathon Penny

You all helped WIZ celebrate love and nature with fair fond tokens of well-worded affection.  Thank you!

Thanks also go to our readers and commenters.  There’s still plenty of room open (until March 24) on our LONNOL month giveaway of Typhoon, starring Dorothy Lamour and Robert Preston.  If you’d like one, please go to that post and leave a comment.  I’ll contact you for shipping information.  WIZ offers these DVDs free to readers in appreciation for your presence here and for your support of WIZ’s mission to create a rhetorically-diverse space for Mormon nature literature (though, of course, all nature writers are welcome–see submissions guidelines here).

Also, WIZ’s 4th Annual Spring Poetry Runoff Contest and Celebration will open on the vernal equinox, March 20, with categories for both competition and non-competition, an open-invitation spring haiku chain, another Retro Review, and other revelry.  Please make a note of the Runoff’s pending arrival and watch for announcements detailing this year’s activities and prizes.

Again, deepest affection to you, contributors, and to you, readers and followers of WIZ, for your continued presence here.

Tree of Life by Coyote (as told to Patricia K.)

This segment is from a longer piece, Plato’s Alcove, which won an honorable mention in Torrey House Press’s 2011 Creative Non-Fiction Contest.  You can read the entire entry here. Plato’s Alcove is about my first trip to the desert back in 1982.

In the desert one day I met Coyote, the Trickster-God.  We greeted each other and sat in the shade.  I opened my canteen and drank then offered Coyote a drink.  When he thought I wasn’t looking he wiped the canteen’s mouth.  Then he drank.

“Thank you,” he said, handing it back.

I asked Coyote, “Why is this place so beautiful?”

He laughed and said, “I’ll tell you a story that explains everything.” Continue reading Tree of Life by Coyote (as told to Patricia K.)

Emu by Kathryn Knight

Emu Sketch by Kathryn Knight

The emu lives in wooded and open country, costal and inland, across Australia. It is the second largest bird in the world. Its ancestor, the Dromornithid, lived at the time of the dinosaurs. Originally three species of emu roamed the land, but only one survives today; the other two were hunted to extinction for their meat and feathers.

Dromaius novaehollandiae

there lies something of the dark ages in you.
through impediments where we stand your amber eyes
shift, stunningly round, under a severe black framing
of feathers.

tossed into this evolutionary era, you are still
wet, still panting with black beak frozen
in an eerie partial grin, like someone on the verge
of a death they can see.

gargoyle, griffin
estranged from your mythology

congruencies tie us, the awkwardness
found in running without lift, turning long necks round
to an age emptying its enchantment
the lady’s magic web, loosing its plait—
to find you, me, full of such stuff.

now you kneel, backwards
on claws of a dragon, to drink
water that is just
water.

we struggle to rise, lift
the weight of ancient things
no one can decipher, not even you, now
folding their spells beneath your feathers
becoming shadow.

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kathrynknightKathryn Knight graduated from the University of Utah with a BS in Environmental Studies and a BA in English. She has published various poems in its undergraduate literary magazine Shades and exhibited oil paintings and photography in the annual Hammers Inc. Art Festival based in Salt Lake City. She is currently working on a Master of Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning at Utah State University.