Tuesday, 23 April 2019
Every Man for Himself and God Against All
Walking back home earlier today I discovered the local sparrows in much consternation; a magpie raid was in full flow. It's been a warm Easter and they must already be incubating - the magpie would have been after eggs, although I've seen them take live fledglings regularly over the years too.
Spring is a low-level guerrilla war fought out in a thousand tiny skirmishes a second, right on our very doorsteps and lawns, inside our hedges and flowerbeds, across our rooftops and driveways. It's a conflict of ambushes and surprise attacks, of espionage and manoeuvre - one in which nobody has real allies but all have enemies, where no tree or bush can be trusted not to harbour predators with murderous intent, and no mercy or quarter is ever expected or given.
It is hard to believe in a compassionate creator god if you spend any time watching nature. You don't even have to go out into the wilderness. Just sit in a suburban garden and watch. I've seen dogs tear the belly out of a still-living hedgehog and pull out is entrails. I've seen a cat break a mouse's spine just for fun and leave it broken and bleeding but still gasping for breath, and had the task of having to put it out of its misery with a spade. I've seen the local sparrowhawk unceremoniously spread the contents of a pigeon's digestive tract, undigested seeds and all, across my patio in the process of ripping out its organs. It might be all barbecue, sandpits and deckchairs for us, but for animals it's a world of misery and fear - through no fault of their own.
"April is the cruelest month." It's also the best month for a D&D campaign; it makes me long for a bit of survival horror.