Normally, I do not post on holidays. I believe that it is more than appropriate to take a few days off each year for no other reason than to spend time with family and give thanks for all the blessings in my life.
Today, Thanksgiving Day, will be filled with a lot of family and a lot of thankfulness.
However, a very close friend sent an email to me this morning that has some bearing on this topic. Migrating Mule Deer Deaths in High Sierra is the title of this blog post and it starts like this:
Ice and snow that remained from last winter’s heavy snowfall have led to the confirmed deaths of a total of 120 mule deer in recent weeks, according to state wildlife officials. Traditional fall deer migration over Bishop and Shepard passes combined with hazardous icy conditions on steep mountain slopes, resulted in deer deaths at both high-elevation passes in the John Muir Wilderness of Inyo National Forest.
“The deer died while attempting to travel down snowfields that persisted from last winter” California Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) senior environmental scientist Tom Stephenson said. Recent freezing temperatures turned the soft snow to slick ice, according to Stephenson. “Deer were unable to maintain their footing and slid rapidly down the steep snowfields and slammed into boulder fields below.” Stephenson, who investigated mortalities at Bishop Pass, said most deer appeared to die either immediately or after traveling a short distance from the base of the snow.
This was most certainly an unfortunate incident. At first glance, it almost appears tragic. However, after all my decades experiencing the natural world in all of its unfiltered reality, I recognize that death is a part of the wild. At times, it can be quite disturbing. At times, it can seem such a waste. At times, I wonder if there isn’t some way we might intervene. Then I come to my senses and I understand that the wild isn’t always pretty. It just is… and that is not tragic, it’s simply the way it’s supposed to be.
My reaction is quite opposite the fellow who posted a response to this story, blaming the State for not doing something to “stop the needless deaths.”
This is where I come to the part about why this is important on Thanksgiving Day…
Man is not in charge! We do not control each other, we do not control all things in nature, and we most certainly do not control all things on this planet. Much like the deer who slid down the face of this mountain, we lose our footing on a regular basis during every day of our lives. Sometimes the consequences are unfortunate and sometimes the consequences are tragic.
That is life.
What we can control is the way in which we approach this life and how we react to the unfortunate and the tragic. I highly recommend that you take time to spend with your families today and truly reflect upon those things for which you can be thankful. Then do it again tomorrow. We don’t need a holiday in order to be thankful. You see, there is something I most definitely learned throughout my long and storied life – an ungrateful heart is most certainly the real tragedy.
That’s the view from here…