Mammas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Thirsty

Lots of bluster and fear mongering from the White House these days over immigration while the nation passes the potato chips and gazes mindlessly at videos of kids in cages, a few possibly sold to white slavers after their paperwork was lost under the current administration’s “supervision.”

Ironically, a natural event at our house recently spun a new perspective on this issue.

Squirrels are diurnal, but one interrupted us last week after dinner, retrieving nuts from the attic, we thought.

Completing a house project a couple of years ago, workers stepped all over the aluminum ventilation slats, so now they don’t fit the triangular space at the roof-crown where the air circulates. So we called the local rodent-remover, a friendly guy who put up a tube-trap after covering all the vents with wire.

I noticed a fat squirrel sitting in the yard watching the entire operation, so I wasn’t surprised to see the trigger torn off the next morning while the apparent perpetrator smiled from the bushes.

But a little nighttime noise turned into dismantle-the-house cacophony.

Sounded like a three-man wrecking crew with pry bars out there, and the morning light revealed all the aluminum around the wire torn up or off, and a hole bitten through.

Furthermore, several pieces of siding were torn free from the side of the house, and a hole dug through insulation.

“Looks like she got the babies out,” said my wife, her pinched face revealing battle fatigue after a sleepless night worrying about the innocent.

I wondered what kind of nuclear-powered squirrel could accomplish this?

Was it raised atop the transformer on the pole behind the house and unknowingly gene-altered into a super-charged Electro-Squirrel?

The mystery uncloaked the following evening when a 20+ pound matronly raccoon climbed the porch pole, lumbered onto the roof, and headed straight to the entry hole where the wire was destroyed.

***

As it happens, my Anheuser-Busch-fueled paternal grandfather owned a blue clay farm in the 1960’s that became Mark Twain State Park (Florida, Missouri), and he took my brother and I on midnight hunts. Those indelible images include:

A raccoon family -- back-lit by a full moon -- bawling at the top of an ancient oak. Baying blue tic hounds swarming under the tree, howls piercing my eardrums. Spurious white male "buddies" in holey overalls spitting tobacco juice and fingering triggers on loaded rifles while taking frequent hits off Mason jars.

The old Missouri law prescribing the death penalty for the proven killing of a man’s coon dog was recently replaced by large monetary settlements.

***

After retrieving my .410 pistol from the safe, loading it, chasing off mom raccoon with two scatter shots from forty-feet that didn’t appear to harm her much, and chasing her into the bushes, I heard the neighbor yell:

“What the hell you doing out there! Coon hunting?”

We reside in the center of a mid-sized East Tennessee city. Thirty-three years ago, when we moved in, I took a photograph of a black bear in the driveway. It crossed a double railroad track and a two-lane highway to get there.

How can anyone stop millions of mothers from doing whatever it takes to protect their children?

Oddly, many of these migrant haters are pro-lifers; for example, one of our local state representatives — who poses with his AR15 rifle on his web site — recently drafted a “heartbeat bill” that will effectively end legal abortions in the state.

A few weeks later, he signed his name to legislation that would eliminate healthcare insurance for 280,000 poor Tennessee children.

I hate abortion as much as anyone, but simultaneously wonder what’s to become of all the crack, heroin, alcohol-fetal-syndrome, and opioid addicted babies?

When I asked my right-wing friends this question, a few went dark in the face, snarled, then defamed me as a baby killer. For simply wondering what their plan may be. After making clear to them that abortion is abhorrent.

Interesting.


Perhaps people migrate for reasons we won’t admit, or care to comprehend. I read a wonderfully-written piece in the New Yorker a few years ago that explained how scientists took core samples from the bottom of the Red Sea, analyzed the sediment and matched them to migration timelines, and discovered that mass migrations occur during droughts.

Previously, scientists and historians believed invasions by outside forces (think Mongols), wars, or pestilence caused massive populations shifts. But this new evidence showed that people don’t stick around long when there’s no water.

Imagine that.

Saw this first-hand during camping trips out West at places like Canyon de Chelly and Chaco Canyon, where human life flourished from 1020 to 1090 A.D. before drought hit.

Canyon de Chelly
Canyon de Chelly

After hiking down to the river, we found several dozen school kids happily splashing. Four hours later we began to ascend the trail back to the car and they were still swimming.

“Don’t they want to see the rest of this fabulous scenery?” I asked their teacher.

“We’re from southern New Mexico,” he said.  “We drive two hours just to see ‘The Tree’.  They will be in the river all afternoon and the driver and I will have to drag them onto the bus.”

***

Our current president cuts off aid to Central America, backs the coal industry while simultaneously snubbing the solar juggernaut, sword dances with oil-heavy 9/11 perpetrators, denies climate change, then wonders why streams of people head north to the much cooler, much wetter, more fertile land of opportunity.

Looking back at the raccoon attack, I now realize that we'd just spent an outrageous sum eliminating huge trees in our yard -- trees threatening the safety of our house -- but simultaneously holding the livelihoods and homes of our squirrel and raccoon friends.

We're stumped as to why the mother raccoon invaded our house ...                                  Stumped?

So it turns out I shot a migrant mother for looking after her babies … one week after cutting down her home and grinding it into sawdust.

The realization that I’m just as careless and stupid as President Trump is a bitter pill to swallow, indeed.

In fact, I feel like dying my hair orange, golfing four days a week, eating cheeseburgers for breakfast, then spending my little remaining “executive time” tweeting unfiltered brain-poop to gullible semi-literates happily spooning it down with silver (the winking super rich) or plastic (the gullible poor).

We refuse to view the whole picture because then we’d have to change our behavior.

We watch white cops on the nightly news thrusting knees onto Hispanic necks, but refuse to acknowledge the boardroom boys thrusting coke up their noses. They created the pusher, and sacrifice one now and then to keep their noses sharp.

We avert our eyes from whale bellies bursting with plastic while grabbing a handful of straws to toss out the window on the way home from work so our families will never know we’re gnawing burgers between meals.

We avert our eyes from caged kids while cashing government vouchers enabling us to wall off our children from those smelly Puerto Ricans with the gall to want electricity, or those nasty Flint-water folks.

Americans all.

We avert our eyes from brown children torn from their mothers’ arms while penning heartbeat bills to “protect” the unborn.

We avert our eyes from the poor and hungry living in our midst, while pouring wrath upon mothers leading children to better, more secure lives.

There is no end to the raccoon parable; she’ll follow my dreams into the child-fraught future, images of her kids chilling my spine, exposing my thoughtlessness, shining light upon my shame, for God-knows how long.

Raccoons migrate when we destroy their environment and threaten their babies.

People migrate when we destroy their livelihoods, deaden croplands, and divert their water.

I’m not overlooking the bad elements trying to enter illegally, and neither are the Democrats.  They gave Trump  everything he wanted plus more — and he turned it down, though his base seems unable to process this simple fact.

The president’s moral inability to stand for all Americans — as he swore to do upon taking the office — magnifies the need for better screening at the border. The rich and the powerful appear to be his only concern when it comes to aid. The constant fear mongering serves no other purpose but to keep the lightly-educated agitated.

Send criminals and drug purveyors back where they came from, permanently. 

I’m all for it, and perhaps more conservative about eliminating them than you are. But the major cause of mass migration is climate change and lost jobs.

Until we pull back, look at the whole picture, and work together as a global team to improve the environment — which is certainly compatible with capitalism — well.

Pass the cheeseburgers. Wash them down with orange Kool-Aid while listening to the Fearless Leader’s mantra on how mamma raccoons, mamma squirrels, and mamma humans should protect their young.

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About the Author Gene Scott, a retired English and reading teacher, was born and raised on the prairie of Western Illinois, and has lived in Johnson City, Tennessee for thirty years with his much better half, Lana.