physics and psyches

Page Ninety-three

Tuesday 17 August 2010               Turners, of course

The brighter the light, the deeper the shadow.                                                         

~~  chinese, but who?                                                                                   





Ah, but one of the many contrary and infuriating and selfish traits of homo sapiens is that great numbers of them are willing to bask in one’s bright lights, even to suck them dry if given the chance, but none are willing to engage with the dark-dark shadows that accompany bright-bright lights. Take but no give. Etcetera, ad nauseam.

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whither the geese?

Page Ninety-one

Monday 9 August 2010          Turners sneaks?

As long as I’ve known the place (25 years this month), Turners Falls has had Canadian geese.   
 Sidebar: don’t lift up your nose in
 snobbery and tell me they are called
 CANADA geese.  Maybe they are, and
 maybe not. In northeastern Mass where I
 grew up, they were called Canadian. And
 even if Canada should turn out to be the
 official ornithological term, I won’t use it.
 We do not say America Eagle, or Tasmania
 devil, noun beside noun, and there’s no
 logical reason we should do that with these

This year, there have been more geese than ever. And for the first time in my experience, families of geese have been brave enough to swim along the shoreline and walk up onto land down at the point of the riverbank. Several sets of parents with several sets of goslings of varying ages.

That is, until July 24th, or perhaps a few days later. On July 24, I went to the canal and had some interaction with ten geese who were up on the land. For the next four days, until the 28th, I still saw and heard geese here and there as I did things around town. And then, about July 28, all sign of goose activity in the center of this town, which includes the canal and the widest section of the river, ceased. From the 28th of July until the 7th of August there was no sign of Canadian geese at all. I was looking for such signs, daily. Looking at the river, at the canal, in the sky over my head. Not one honk. Not one pair of wings moving. Not one black neck swimming on the water. Nothing.

And more unprecedented goings-on: 

1. On Saturday 31 July I went to the canal, and since I’d last been there three days earlier, the place had been mowed in draconian fashion. All blooming and pod-forming plants had been decimated. In fact, the mowing was still going on while I was there — on a Saturday. I’ve never before known the electric company (who own the canal) to pay people to be mowing on Saturdays. Nor have I ever known them to do the fall mowing any earlier than late September, which allows many of the plants the chance to go to seed. Why this premature mowing? Why was it still going on on a Saturday? Why no geese?

2. On the morning of either the 2nd or the 3rd of August, I went down to the point section of the river, and I couldn’t enter. The point was sealed off with bright blue plastic fencing anchored on white plastic poles. Never in all my years here have I found entrance to the point forbidden.  Late the same night, I went back to see if the fencing was still there, and it had been removed. Why was it put up in the first place? And why were there still no geese?

I didn’t see or hear any Canadian geese in this town from the 29th of July until the 7th of August. Finally on that day 15 of them flew over me at the river. And I saw the same 15 the next day, in the water. At least I’m presuming they’re the same ones, because I feel the new gooselessness here so keenly. Someone who is as observant of and familiar with the goose numbers as I am knows when something drastic has happened.

This is my theory:  there has been a major, devastating “flock reduction” that has taken place. Did the geese themselves decide to take off for greener pastures? I find that very hard to accept, since in all the years I’ve been mindful of the geese, they’ve never deserted this place in large numbers before. If the electric company or the state parks services or some other set of bureaucrats were behind it, they wouldn’t, of course, do it themselves. They would get some other set of bureaucrats to do the dirty work. Most likely Mass Wildlife and Fisheries, an outfit as unfond of animals as is the national Bureau of Land Management. I think some yuppies jogging and roller-skating away their so-called “RiverCulture” may have got their little selves frightened because there were geese coming onto the land (I actually witnessed this chicken-shit routine a couple of times), and they cried and wept, and then perhaps our geese were decimated.

Decimated how? Not shooting certainly, we would have heard that. Poison? Thus the very premature mowing and the blocking of the point? Capture and removal to another town where geese are in short supply?

I don’t know these answers and details, because if the electric company organized a goose-removal with Wildlife and Fisheries on the QT, they certainly ain’t ever going to admit it to Anne Nakis. No one in this nest of vipers will even tell me what became of my own animals, let alone the wild geese.

What happened to all our geese? What happened to all those wonderful goslings born this year, swimming by us with their families, eating our bread, and walking up on the banks? Are all those brand-new geese dead now?

I’ve told you before that this town is full of poisonous people. If I have neglected to say so before, then I will add that the ignorance in Turners and in the whole of Franklin county is so thick you can cut it with a knife.

What happened to all of our geese, who at evening dusk and morning dusk sound a kind of humming that is like a lullaby; who fly overhead in their many chevrons and honk and squonk their messages to each other; who are truly a piece of the river’s culture, whereas the roller skates and bicycles and baby strollers are not.

BackIn my own life, I used to sometimes sing the geese a song when I walked the river with my dogs. Even now, my own life destroyed, I did sing one verse of it late this July to the geese who came onto the canal bank and ate my bread:

                                     There are sounds to make you angry,
                                      there are sights to make you sing,
                                      but the bonniest sight of the morning
                                      is the snow goose on the wing.
                                      Her neck is long and slender,
                                      her road’s a simple line.
                                      And the rolling grey Atlantic
                                      has parted me and mine.

                                                     ~~  brian mcneil

What happened to our beautiful, plentiful, natural, graceful, peaceful Canadian geese?

Update:  On the 7th of October I went to the river in the afternoon, to see on the water no less than 400 geese. You can laugh at me all you like, but I cried. And stood there listening to them make their speech to each other and watching them bathe and flap their wings, and had my adventure of gratitiude for the reappearance of geese. We have our abundance of them again. I can never know a couple of things, unanswered questions that nag me (I hate unanswered questions of any kind): Are these 400 the same 400 we had before, or a new batch just arrived? If they’re new, what happened to the ones we had?

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animals versus homo sapiens

Page Ninety


                                  The human being is not the lord of beings,
                                  but the shepherd of Being.
                                           ~~~~~  martin heidegger


An exercise in compare and contrast on Thursday 5 August 2010, in the human cesspool commonly known as Turners Falls.

It’s been leveled at me more than once in my life, by more than one human and always in a scornful, jealous tone of voice:   You care more about animals than people.   Now to me, the person with Asperger’s, the person who has been psychologically bullied by neurotypicals in more ways and more times than I can count, the person who has only ever felt safe with animals, this statement seems to me, first, ridiculously obvious and logical, and second, filthy mean in its derisive tone of voice, and third, utterly bloody childish in its jealousy. So… a systematic look at why animals are better for me than humans, and always have been.

One:   You do something for an animal, and however small or medium or large that thing is, it is appreciated, and that appreciation is immediately obvious. In my own experience, and my own is the only kind I’m discussing here, this has very rarely been true with humans. Whatever appreciation there might have been was usually small, and usually very short-lived.


Two:   Animals scratch and bite and snarl, whereas in general, most humans do not. At least, not literally. Humans have different, more insidious ways of launching their attacks. But animals only attack in these ways (at least in the 55 years I lived with and observed them) when they are sick or injured or frightened. They are not doing it because they hate you, or envy you, or want to bully and control you, or desire to take something of yours away from you. When the animal attacks, you can suffer the injury and forgive them, because there was no malice in the act of the type that humans practice. An attacking animal doesn’t wish to see you destroyed in any way, it just wants to keep you off when it is in an extreme emotional state. I would rather be bitten by an animal once a week than assaulted ever again by the type of viciousness that the human species practices.

Three:   Animals live what they feel, they don’t simply flap their gums about it, as humans are fond of doing. Every day, you experience their love, their loyalty, their appreciation, and also whatever fear or anger might come over them. You feel these things subliminally, in the energy that emanates from them, you see them in their body language, and hear them in their non-human vocalizations. You’re seldom in doubt about what an animal is feeling, and what their intentions are towards you, and how they regard you in general. There are exceptions to this in some animals, but that’s fairly rare. You are never in doubt about their need for you, and the fact that they are grateful when the needs are met.

But humans? For an Aspie like me, neurotypical talk is a mine-field. They don’t speak directly, not in any way that I can define as direct. Their body language and facial expressions are very often saying something different than the words issuing from their pie-holes are saying. And their loyalty, or affection, or fondness can be meanly and manipulatively withdrawn at any second, and you may never, ever be told any truth about why it was withdrawn.

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