Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Whose Story?

A really neat element of country living is sharing your life with animals. We don't keep livestock (on purpose--don't get me started about supporting squirrels and/or other rodents) just as we don't really garden. However, we share our place with wild creatures: eagles and a lynx as well as the more prosaic (though still interesting) ravens and crows, foxes and otters.

This morning, we noticed eagles screeching and soaring unusually close to our house. It was cold enough (-5F) that we didn't expect their persistence. Now that our bay is beginning to freeze and the shoreline is mostly snow-covered, they often do a fly-by or two, then climb thermals and go off to hunt in open water.

This morning, the eagles and many ravens seemed to linger a few hundred meters to the right of the house, near the shore but out on the (growing) lake ice. I couldn't tell from the house, and I wasn't comfortable going out *too* far on the new ice to get close, but some type of animal had met its end and was serving as a cold-weather buffet for scavengers. The carcass is too big for a fox, but it's possibly a young deer and possibly a wolf or coyote.

Then on our way out to run errands, we noticed the body of a young fox near the driveway. It's a recent addition--probably from this morning. No scavengers have been around yet, but it's within clear view of the house, and they may be nervous about coming so close. Or they may not have found it yet. We're giving it an evening before moving it to an open area where birds can't see us.

Naturally, we're curious about what happened. Are the two bodies linked? Did a larger predator both take down the first animal and wound the fox? Or are they two stories that just happened to play out within the same couple of acres?

And there's nothing like a window into the natural world to make me understand the importance of who's telling the story. The fox (and the unknown animal) likely have a different perspective than the eagles and ravens, who are no doubt thrilled to have food.

I'm revising a novel (and gestating a short story). And now I'm asking myself, in each case, what the story would be if the antagonist told it.

Stories are everywhere, and it's fun to look for them. And kind of neat to think, "I'm learning from eagles."