Monday, May 15, 2006

Nature v nurture

[Written, obviously, yesterday and for Mothers' Day.]



My day began as best it might, given untoward circumstances, with a flurry of phone calls from all those much too various time zones which I magically inhabit.

Child first, as should be. Exhausted pobrecito, understandably. The Fair City demands much of its residents of a Saturday night, but the Morrison? Goodness, we really are growing up [though I should imagine the evening might have ended at Fibbers].

Then others, friends, some who have claimed me [or I, they, one never knows – the laying claim of heart and home always so mysterious] as mama or friend or cohort ever after. The joys of maternal certitude have never been limited to biological imperative.

Which brings me to someone who has been, and often is, on my mind:

Chiquita.

Once upon a time, in my most favoured city, we were blessed with a multitude, an endlessly swarming extended family of felines. At least 30, sometimes more, all of whom would drop in at least once a day, demanding to be fed. Our yard was uncommonly large, and I thought the unbroken vistas allowed them some sense of safety.

Anyone who has ever lived in Barcelona knows these tribes, more or less circumscribed by block and family ties.
They came in gaggles, and there was similarity within each gaggle, of age, color and even temperament. We came to identify them as the “cousins,” the “uncles,” “the mean ones,” and so forth.

One amongst them was heavy with child, and we kept special eye on her, inviting her in when we could and making sure she received more than her fair share.

And one day she didn’t appear. Then another and another, and so we assumed she had given happy birth and was tending her babies. But we worried about where she was dining.

Then, softly at first, the unmistakable low mewling sounds emanating from somewhere. Just on the other side of the high back garden fence, perhaps. Sad, lonely, unrequited murmurs.

My son, who even then was more than a foot taller than I [and equally unable to ignore the pleas], jury-rigged a chair, a stool, precarious ladder to scale the fence and climb over, peeking into a tiny shed and finding the source. Then, day by day, hour by hour, he somehow managed to introduce saucers of milk, the softest of foods, quiet reassurances of sustenance.

Then, a few weeks later, one bright afternoon, there appeared a caravan of tiny kittens, picking their way carefully across the top of the fence. There were 5 – four of them the typical black and white. But in the lead, Chiquita.

He – yes, he, as it turned out – equally diminutive, and surely a sibling, but odd gene out with his distinctive Siamese coat – was two steps ahead of the others, firmly in the lead.

Cannon fodder, we thought.

Not valor, strength or wisdom, but cannon fodder, self-imposed out of some innate necessity. If unknown - and everything was unknown for them - danger were to appear, then Chiquita would take the hit.

And so he raised them well. Bringing them to our back door several times a day for the very special stash of tinned food kept only for the “babies.” Later bringing them to “play” with our house cat [a surprise gift of sort from some other children], a massive, ungainly, dim Persian. The “babies” were the same age as silly Bedivere, but a fifth his size.

Chiquita taught them to rush the silly one, pouncing from under table, knocking him over on his back, and, I swear, giggling as they watched his feet foolishly tread air, his girth rendering him incapable of rolling over.

He loved the attention, the “babies” felt duly empowered and Chiquita could rest for just a moment.

So, yes, maternal certitude is thrust upon one, does not allow for hesitation or nuance and is certainly not limited to biological imperative. And there are some who live in a state of such self-absorbed certitude that their universe of one will never have to fear such visitation.

As for cannon fodder - in this particular tale at least – Chiquita took it upon herself to provide cover and lesson for her babies/siblings. I am sure there are universes where the circumstance might have been reversed, untutored babies thrust into unknown [or not] minefields.

But, all things considered, I would rather not consider such universe.

9 comments:

Spark said...

When you are on the right track, connected with the beings with whom you are supposed to connect, you just know it. By the way things are - and in the synchronities that abound

Canon fodder or otherwise, through some kind of leadership, the job gets done: the mould gets broken

Perhaps the way of Nature is the way of God: that freed human nature which is brave, cares not about what most others think; loving only spontaneity, delight, and universal freedom

nature & nurture
hearing & hollering
one fact or fiction
One Shared Song !

Spark said...

Can we find a sutable umbrella for solidarity other than one that refers to globalisation, anti or alter ?

Globalisation - as the process change leading to a recognition of human oneness - seems to me like a fundamentally good thing

It's something that helps make conscious universal solidarity possible - and the word "anti" seems inappropriate

And, obviously, we are "alter": everything anyone does, progressive, reactionary or otherwise, is "alter". The use of the word is meaningless

From the local right to indigenous autonomy to movements that work towards a world economic system that honours the imperative for global justice

What is the theory - the contemporary semantic - that links our diversity of struggles, for a different system, and different systems, for transformed social relations ?

Comrada B said...

I do think I was misunderstood on the subject of globalisation or perhaps needed to elaborate more. I shall when there is more time (sigh)



Paz...

B

Spark said...

Hi Comrada

I just wanted to open things up to question our use of language. Maybe we can find a more effective solidarity/common cause with a different semantic ? [in the UK it is civil rights, and constitutional questions about the future of our democracy that are presently galvanising activists and commentators]

You are right to be supportive to those who resist globalisation and privatisation!

Xx

Comrada B said...

Hola Spark y Salonista's,

Yes we need to find some common ground for unity. Many of us have much in common. This includes the Indigenous of elsewhere not protected under their own Constitution. We here have something that wants to quell our civil rights here under our Constitution. It is called the Patriot Act. The Patroit Act afterall, is just a
@!%$&^# piece of paper. We have adherred to our Constitution for hundreds of years making it the foundation of our civil rights. Bueno. Now certain cetin's that hide their dirty work like shadows in corners (but really resemble cockroaches) pushed this so called Act in a most domineering way upon the rest of us, without any semblence of Democracy in this so called Democracy, this Act IS just a @!%$&^# piece of paper.

We have yet to have a Democratic process, or a dialogue or taking this said 'Act' before the highest Court on how this (Act, a
@!%$&^# piece of paper anyway) tries to nullify all our civil rights under the Constitution (which, let it be known is not just a @!%$&^# paper.) Our country has yet to take to the highest Court, the legal question before all of us, how the Act can overide our Constitution, in regard to our civil rights, without declaring martial law across the country.

Martial law you say? Here is where the Act becomes a question of legality. Under our present set of laws, our Constitution is the highest law of the land. If our Constitution is nullified or in this case most of it's amendments superceded by another document (the @!%$&^# Act) then under our present set of laws, martial law must be declared, because that too is a standing law. Apparently, we are a lawless land. We are suposed to be protected fully under the Constituion. We are not. The (expletive) 'Act' says, according to some Oz hiding behind a great curtain of secrecy somewhere, can and will be implemented at anytime to overide our civil rights under our Constitution. According to law, if you overide the Constitution, you (O, Great Oz) must declare martial law.

If they take to our Supreme Court the highest Court of the land (which they have not done yet...hmmmm I wonder why) the question of legality of the (expetive) 'Act,' overiding our Constitution, is the Wizard, self appointed king, afraid the curtain will be yanked back to reveal that the Act is pure fascism and the Highest Court will rule against thier fiefdom?

I have a feeling, once this is brought before the Highest Court, even the Good Fairy Princess can't save him and his fiefdom.

I smell taxation without representation. Tea anyone?


Happily Expatriated,

B

Comrada B said...

P.S. CORRECTION:In the preceeding post that was suposed to be 'CERTAIN CRETIN'S.' Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Dearest Comrada y Otras Compas

Yes! Definitely the War on Terror = Certain Cretins, pursuing, for example:
US Fascism

But this is of course an international phenomenon, which means an international response is both necessary and, thanks to good ole [sick]globalisation, possible.

Perhaps here?
AWTW

And here?
Rights for 21st Century

Hmmm. Me not so sure. So, I will report back to the Intergalactic on this "AWTW" after I have made some further investigations..

Basta.

007

Anonymous said...

Chiquita just wanted us to note that he appreciates your having taken note of the note. He read the Spanish, of course, and not the Marky Mark version (in his underwear, no? Such a horrid vision - but then I suppose that was the idea).

Anyway, he sends besos and a lengthy reading list.

Anonymous said...

Chiquita here, once again, with a nod to Ke Huelga. That's 102.9 FM.