Upon entering the barn, a faint buzzing sound tickled my ears. It wasn’t a mosquito; it wasn’t near. I tried to match it to the noise of the chest freezer compressor or the electric box high on the wall, but couldn’t. I shook it off and got my gear together to clean the pen. I’d already locked Chaucer and Katia outside and brought in the beaten wheelbarrow, shovel and rakes. I fiddled with the padlock and tugged at the pole brace on the lower half of the door to gain entrance. The buzzing sound droned on in waves, increasing in volume as I swung open the massive stall door.
The old barn rafters with chipped paint patina had filled with cobwebs, as they do rather quickly, and there are always a handful closer to my level. Standing 5’3″ has it’s advantages when avoiding such things!
As I began the scooping and raking of debris from the stall floor, I heard it again.
I can only describe the sound as a chainsaw on helium in a distant wood. It was slightly eerie and somewhat irritating. After removing a portable lamp from another pen front, I managed a dim glow in my work area. A tiny wiggling thing caught my attention and I knew the source of the buzzing immediately. A rather large fly had become trapped in a web above me. It struggled and wriggled but failed to free itself. The buzzes were the exhausted pleas for mercy. I knew this when I saw the black shape approach. She was bulbous and not much larger than the fly itself but had an imposing presence nonetheless. You could feel a sharp excitement from the creature… she danced around the fly, left and circling right. She was thrilled for the hapless insect.
A child on Christmas morn, not quite knowing from which angle to attack the presents first…
Accepting fate as it had been dealt, the fly’s call diminished into a tired whimper. The eager spider circled still, and I envisioned the expression it must have had in it’s dark eyes. She went in for the kill. The buzzing stopped. I stood watching that web jiggle with a predator’s enthusiasm for a few moments more.
I cleaned the lion’s pen in a slight melancholic state. Nature is not pretty, but we no longer notice such transgressions. The hunt for us is over, we the upright standing beasts. Not one of us need dirty our fingernails by piercing the earth for a root to eat or bloody our hands in killing our next meal of flesh. I’m grateful for my homosapian detachment, but it’s that same detachment that burnishes out our compassion. Stop and watch a truly grotesque display of survival. Understand what it is to live. Then go through the drive-through at Taco Bell for dinner…