NATURE: KEEP OUT
I have a house in the country. It was built right in the forest, the structure erected after a portion of the land had been cleared. And that was the attraction. One could live amidst nature – trees and flowers outside the windows, wild turkeys and deer on the grass, birds and butterflies flitting about, bears and moose reportedly in the vicinity.
But “nature” should know its place (just as I do mine when I enter its realm). But it doesn’t. It should accept the fact that the house is off limits, is my domain, and that it is not welcome there. It should not intrude, but instead remain outside and be content with the wide open spaces and territory that it rightly possesses. I don’t mind if bees buzz busily among the flowers alongside the house. I certainly welcome the fact that birds continually nest under the gutters of my roof. When ants march back and forth on my porch, I’m fascinated by their dexterity and determination. I’m full of admiration for the astonishingly intricate webs spiders spin on my deck. I’ll even accept, albeit reluctantly, a colony of wasps that have decided to set up quarters along my roof line.
But that’s where it ends. Boundaries must be drawn, territorial integrity maintained. Human habitation is intended to be sealed off from nature (excepting all the plants, allowed in to decorate interior spaces.) And that’s why I contend constantly with intruders, those creatures that flaunt this fundamental principle. Flies and moths must be pursued relentlessly and either guided to exit through an open door (often an immensely frustrating task) or face summary execution via a rolled-up newspaper or fly swatter. Ants cannot be allowed to roam freely. When discovered they must be scooped up and tossed outside, or if mortally wounded when captured, flushed down the toilet. More severe retribution awaits the occasional wasp that manages to breach the defenses. They are not helpless, have the means to inflict pain. They must be approached from a distance and dispatched with a burst of bug spray.
Then, there are the mice. Toward them I have a degree of sympathy. They’ve come inside because here they can discover places that are moist, warm and comfortable; plus, morsels of food and crumbs lying about offer easy pickings. But, in no way are they welcome. Lacking basic manners, they persist in producing droppings, depositing their waste wherever they so please. Their punishment is thus severe, as traps and poisons take their toll.
Surely a case can be made that nature was here first, one that makes me the intruder. Also, that no harm will come to me if I accept cohabitation and co-existence with some of nature’s least menacing creatures. I’m not buying it. Did not God bestow upon man full authority over all the creatures on earth? Am I not then justified in exercising my rightful prerogatives?