Wednesday, January 06, 2016
the great brown hunter
Reality has raised its stinger in our idyllic compound.
Barco has entered his hunter stage. Butterflies and grasshoppers during the day. Things that go bump in the night after the sun sets.
That usually means crickets. He has developed a fondness for them that would qualify him to be a native of Oaxaca. I regret his choice. The nocturnal sound of crickets in my courtyard makes nighttime here a joy.
But he is a predator. And he will hunt. It is his nature. My conservative outlook long ago taught me there are some things in nature that cannot be undone. Most things, in fact.
He also attacks the occasional small cockroach. But the survival nature of cockroaches is hardwired to Barco's disadvantage.
The courtyard is only dimly lit at night. If I do not have my flashlight with me, I cannot always see what he is stalking.
Last night around 3 AM, on my mad dash to the door with a bladder-challenged dog in hot pursuit, I noticed I was the only being dashing. Barco had stopped near one of the planters with his nose plastered to the ground. I assumed that he had found the makings for an early morning cricket snack.
As I ran back to scoop him up, he dealt whatever it was a deadly slam with his paw. (Dogs have a very effective way of proving that might often does make right. At least, might makes favorable results.) I did not pause to look at what he had killed, but had not yet eaten.
This morning, while cleaning up fallen leaves and flowers (one of my homeowner rituals), I found the carcass. It was not a cricket. Or a cockroach. Or even a butterfly.
It was a scorpion -- one of our very toxic small beige scorpions. The ants had begun feasting on what Barco had missed. Being wise ants, they had severed the stinger and set it aside while they dined on one of nature's most efficient predators.
That was the first scorpion I have seen in the sixteen months I have lived here. That is surprising since there are lots of open fields in my neighborhood.
But I saw only a few scorpions in my five years of living on the laguna in Villa Obregón. They are certainly here, but nowhere as prevalent as they are in San Miguel de Allende on my visits to the highlands.
Having made that rather facile comparison, it only takes one scorpion under a bare foot to re-construct one's view of how any given day is going. And it was a good reminder: I obviously need to wear something on my feet when I am walking around. Especially, at night.
Of course, while I was acting as a police crime scene photographer, I was standing there in my bare feet. I am an expert at spouting life morals; I am rather a slouch when it comes to practice.
I suppose lesson number two is that I need to be more observant about what Barco is hunting.
However, I have no delusions of crowning myself the King Canute of changing dog behavior. After all, he spends a large portion of his day romping in the goat lot across the street chasing butterflies.
He will end up learning his life lessons as the rest of us have. Roses have thorns. Scorpions pack a punch. Crickets are tasty.