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  • Kerry D. Krauss

Predator and Prey

Predator and Prey

A bald eagle has returned to Three Springs Creek. I saw him/her twice this week. The return of the eagles means that whatever spawns up the creek will soon do that. With the spawning fish, come opportunistic predators. Last year I counted two adult eagles and three or four adolescents. They perch along the creek sitting, waiting, hunting, eating, and digesting for about two weeks. Then, they sailed on to better hunting grounds.

When the eagles return, the forest shrieks in protest. I am amazed at how loud it is around the creek. The crows, the blue jays are the loudest. The squirrels and chipmunks chatter nervously defending their territory. The presence of the hunter instills panic among the hunted.

We like to think of ourselves at the top of the food chain. Our post-Enlightenment sensibility suggests we have domesticated everything worth domesticating. And that which we have not domesticated, we have tried to exterminate. This is not limited to animals and vegetation. Sadly, we’ve done the same to people, races, and cultures.

Occasionally, something reminds us that we are perched tenuously at the top of the food chain. I’ve always imagined something much larger coming to displace us—aliens, dinosaurs, griffin, centaurs. I was especially terrified of Bigfoot in 4th and 5th grade.

It is strangely ironic that the threat we face today is about 20­400 nm in size. [FYI a nanometer is one billionth of a meter]. They are only visible under the electron microscope. This strange ball of parasitic DNA is responsible for over 50,000 deaths. It has dismantled economies, disrupted lives, unsettled governments and the whole human community.

Perhaps it is not just our perch atop the food chain that is tenuous. This virus has demonstrated how truly vulnerable we are. This is a lesson we know—and we know it by heart—we just conveniently forget it. We remembered it on September 11, 2001. We remembered it on April 4, 1968. We remembered it on November 22, 1963; December 7, 1941; October 29, 1929. Each generation needs some reminder that we are limited, human, and fragile.

May this microscopic virus be this generation’s only reminder of how vulnerable and fragile we are. May it be a lasting lesson on what it means to be together—a brotherhood, a sisterhood, a community accomplishing more together than we ever could individually.

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