Thursday, December 14, 2023

The Circle of Life

I’ll always remember the morning in spring when I woke up to see a half-dozen vultures congregated in the street a few feet in front of our yard. This was in the time of Covid, most likely in 2021.

I couldn’t quite see what the party was all about, but within a minute or two, the feast had moved into our front yard and I could see that the wake was dining on some medium-sized creature, a possum, I was thinking.

This went on for about an hour before the party broke up. It was a busy day and so what was a spectacle in the morning was pretty well forgotten by lunchtime.

I didn’t give it anymore thought until the next morning when I went out to throw the recycling into the bin and discovered about half a skeleton of the hapless menu item who had provided breakfast for that ravenous flock the day before. I’m no expert, but it seemed to confirm my thought that it was a possum. Because there wasn’t too much left besides an ivory skull, I’ll never know for sure but I know for certain that vultures are really efficient when it comes to their role in keeping the circle of life in motion. The remains of the creature they feasted on looked as though they had been lying, undiscovered, in the woods for months but I knew for a fact that Peter Possum’s heart had been beating 24 hours before I found him in my yard.

I reflected on that for a moment and have from time-to-time since and it shined a bright light on something we modern folk don’t think about much. Everything in our world has a life span. We humans certainly do. None of us knows how long we’ve got, and life can–and often does–come to a screeching halt. I suspect that my possum friend was creamed by a neighbor’s car before he was gnawed on by Vic Vulture & friends.

And in that moment, I had another clear and memorable insight into how the Circle of Life works. Especially outside of that overly-sanitized and highly-idealized picture of life that lives somewhere in the recesses of this modern, suburban man’s brain. And for a moment, I had a sense that all was well in Mother Nature’s Realm.

"Bulldog Ben” Basile

© 2023 Ben Lawrence Basile