Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Brown-tailed Hawk (and a sweet little rabbit)

Today, as I was driving over the creek, a brown-tailed hawk swept by just missing my windshield.

Dangling from the hawk’s talons was a rabbit. Its cute little feet kicking desperately in the air.

Right here, in my first several drafts of this blog, for some reason I got off subject, and instead of giving you the picture of the hawk, holding on to that rabbit, flying off into the woods until it disappeared from sight, I instead slipped off topic and hurriedly began running down the road that compares that rabbit to the chicken that we take on faith is the meat part of a Chicken McNugget.

Apparently the connection in my mind was the thought, the comparison, between eating rabbit and eating the contents of an order of Chicken McNuggets.

Particularly, chicken McNuggets bought at the Union Station McDonalds.

This isn’t the McDonalds downstairs in the food court (if there is one downstairs in the food court) This is the McDonalds up by the trains because, I think it was about a year ago when I was waiting for Wenonah to come in on a train from NYC, it was late at night and the other shops were closing so I walked down past the trains to that dead end corner and stood in line.

And there, past the cash register, was this guy dressed in whites, opening a package of frozen hamburger paddies and I got to thinking that those things were probably from the same factory as the ones being thrown on the grease in McDonalds located all over the world.

Any of the ones in Winchester, Culpeper, Glenwood Springs, Barstow (is there one in Barstow?).

Or maybe even the one located down by the ferry landing in Hong Kong. (I was once desperate enough for something that approximated an American breakfast after traveling in Asia for a month that I bought and ate two egg McMuffins while waiting for the ferry).

But really, the idea here is not food as a living, breathing animal that we (or the hawk) kills and eats to keep our bodies alive, but instead food as just something made in a factory like a ball point pen, sock or tennis ball.

Sort of food as a manufactured product. Manufactured at a factory that could be located just about anywhere from material that could come from just about anything.

I could go on and describe the little piece of rabbit fur Wenonah and I found down in the corner of the hoophouse (sort of like a greenhouse, only with a hoophouse you grow your crops directly in to the dirt).

We had been in the hoophouse picking eggplant. Italian eggplant we intended to slice and cook on the grill that night.

And we had come across the rabbit coat and a little bit of its innards and we stood there for a moment, looking and wondering what had caught the rabbit and rested here to make a meal of it.

So, I think the point here, the one that was sort of bubbling up from somewhere was about the nature of food.

Whether food is a relationship, sometimes a brutal one like that one between the hawk and that rabbit. or, I guess the relationship between those bears and our bees’ honey. Even the eggplant that we so carefully started in the spring, putting one seed into a little tiny dab of dirt where it was watered and protected from the cold, given water and nutrients and finally taken out and carefully put in the ground.
Again protected from the elements, watered, fed, defended from various predators, (potato bugs, flea beetles, deer, ground hogs) and finally harvested the fruit ( and I’ve often wondered what that relationship was, symbiotic or ruthless exploitation) until finally the seasons change and the earth’s natural cycle turns the ground cold and bleak.

Whether food is a relationship between two beings. One being eaten (the rabbit) and the one doing the eating (the hawk).

Or is food just another product like tennis balls. Another piece of a commercial enterprise.

Or does it even matter.

Leigh Hauter

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