23 September 2001
 

 

 
At first the pond was still. I focused on the reflection of black trees and ragged fall leaves against the slate sky. Then a water bug landed and tiny ripples broke over the still surface. Soon many water bugs, some in small groups, darted here and there. The ripples spread and merged. They appeared like a code of some sort and I imagined each bug, feeling the vibrations, reacted by contributing its own unique ripple to the gathering and diminishing swirls. I wondered if it was possibly like playing music?
 
I thought about circles of influence, the web, and how ripples of influence radiate from each of us. I noticed around the edges of the pond solitary bugs made ripples that petered out before joining the confusion of spirals, and thought: I am most like the solitary bugs. I thought about how I could not change the world or effect the outcome of the United States' campaign against the Taliban, anymore than I could have stopped the bombing of Baghdad or Scuds landing in Israel. Whenever I read about the terrible events in those ancient lands, I thank happenstance for assigning me a home in this quiet land of sea and mountains.
 
Yet I have connections to that ancient place, on my father's side - Persian ancestors who, in 1903, fled the Middle East. Nestorian Christians, most likely descendants of the Nestorian Christians who rode with the Mongols in 1258, and participated in a horrific slaughter during the sack of Baghdad - an act of brutality against the Sunni Muslim inhabitants. And here I am living in Canada, a relatively peaceful country. But even this country is not blameless for the ills of the Middle East. Canada once sold assault helicopters to Turkey that were conceivably used against mountain Kurds. Some of my Persian ancestors come from those same mountains. They called themselves Assyrians - by all accounts a very aggressive people. They were eventually hounded and slaughtered by Muslim Turks and Kurds. Spirals of violence have always gathered and diminished through time, but more recently they merge on camera and diminish much slower. I had an urge to toss a pebble into the water. But it passed.
 
by Randy Adams
 
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