One of the unique advantages of growing up in certain pockets of America is that you have very little exposure to death. For millions of people in the US, the first time they witness mortality is the loss of a grandparent, or maybe a beloved pet. Unlike many parts of the world (and areas ravaged by poverty / violence here) where murder, bombs, war, famine, rampant disease, or starvation are part of a daily existence – there are those in this country who are sheltered from the brutality of untimely death.
I wonder what it is like for all the children of the planet who have experienced or witnessed multiple violent deaths by the time most American children still can’t wipe their own ass. Does that instill upon them a greater appreciation for life? Or would so much pain make them jaded and discouraged – left wondering what is the point? Does sheltering our children from the anguish of mortality only make death more tragic when they do experience it?
Living in the country gives The Munch a very quaint childhood. She doesn’t see homelessness, extreme scarcity, or the frayed bodies of dead humans obliterated by drone attacks. Everything around her is seemingly idyllic. As far as The Munch perceives, the world is a benevolent place filled with peace and harmony. Existence is nothing but kittens cuddling on a bed of pussy willows drinking hot chocolate through a vanilla bean straw while humming show tunes and licking clean the eyelids of sleeping babies. She has no concept of the true and brutal reality for most of humanity.
Although as a parent you want to preserve the innocence of your child, I would be very concerned about the naivety of The Munch’s existence if we didn’t live on a farm. Yet because we are surrounded by wildlife, we witness the viciousness of nature almost every day.
Just this summer alone, a fox murdered all 16 of our chickens. Didn’t eat them, but tore them apart and left pieces of their physiques littered throughout the lawn. The Munch would turn to me and say, “Look Mom, a chicken feather.” I would turn to see what she was talking about, and Munch would be holding an entire chicken butt – like the whole ass of a chicken – as if it were no thing.
A week later – a fisher cat eviscerated one of our guinea hens. The Munch and I saw a pile of plumage on the grass, and The Munch’s reaction was “oh dear, one of the guinea hens got killed. Look at all the beautiful feathers.”
When the baby turkeys come to harvest for the winter holiday season, The Munch will hold them in her hands lovingly while discussing how when they get bigger, her babysitter Lilliana along with her husband Farmer John, will cut all their heads off for Thanksgiving. For Munch all this death is natural and normal. Our cat Omega is like the American Psycho of felines, and most mornings we wake up to a half chewed mouse, or a bird with no head. Munch is totally unfazed and rationalizes this as, “Omega is so silly – she loves eating mice even though we have food for her.”
I think because we live amongst the cycles of mother Gaia, The Munch is at least accepting of the idea of death. The other day she said she wanted a parrot, and I said we probably couldn’t get one right now because Omega would eat it, or Mona our dog would chase it.
Munch: Okay. We will wait until Omega and Mona die – then we will get a parrot. I love my cat and dog sooooo much, but they are really old.