Our Animal Selves

It’s snowing today!

It’s snowing today and the temperature hovers at freezing here on Bainbridge Island in the Pacific Northwest. It almost feels like real winter and my dogs and I are smiling! With the Montana climate deep in our bones, I think we three long for the extremes of hot, dry brown summers and crackling cold white winters.

“Why?” you may wonder.

Variety, challenge, sensory delight – after a day of cross-country skiing, have you ever lain on your back watching the stars while soaking in a hot springs? My animal nature and sensual body croon with memory.

Speaking of animal nature, I want to harken back to an earlier post in which I described the dismay I felt when I first learned I was an animal.

Do you even remember that fact about being human? We are animals? I doubt it. We modern urban folk are unlikely to think of ourselves as animals except in the pejorative sense of a statement like: “What was s/he thinking? S/he behaves like an animal.”

I described my seven year old self lying on the summertime prickly, pungent grass wrapped by scents of clover, the sound of buzzing bees and the sight of blueblueblue sky cupped by my hands held round my eyes.

Despite my immersion in the world around me, my mother shocks me one afternoon by telling me I am an animal. Maybe she was admonishing me for being an animal because I was getting grass stains on my shirt. I fight her, she fights back. Maybe the dialogue goes something like this:

 “Deb, stop acting like an animal.”

 “ I’m NOT acting like an animal.”

 “Oh yes, you are, “she might have said. “ You know, Deb, actually, humans are animals.”

 “We are NOT,” I shout in horror.

 “But we are. We’re animals, really.”

 “We are not,” I say, lower lip trembling a bit, as doubts begin assembling. But I cling mightily to my belief system and repeat, “But I’m not an animal. I can’t be. I talk.”

 “But, honey,” she’s softening a little, now, getting into her teacher mode, “The scientists have figured it out. Biologists know. There are all kinds of animals…birds, reptiles, fish, spiders, bees, horses, elephants, all kinds… The humans are the kind called mammals.”

 “But I can’t be an animal.” I remember my panic rising. “I can’t be. I walk on two legs.” I begin to whimper as I feel my world view changing.

 “So do birds,” she says.

That memory rivets me and links to the snowy day today.

Despite modernity and the daily race to accomplish much, folks here cancel events and close schools several days before snowstorms are predicted to arrive. ByMontana wild standards, this is just plain silly. Weather forecasting is as unpredictable as the weather. But by urban, rat race standards, I think maybe premature cancellations serve to feed our hunger to slow down. Potential snowstorms and the possibility of icy roads are good excuses for hunkering close to the nest. At a time on our planet when we human animals forget our total dependency on nature’s largesse, I’m grateful for these storms that bring us home.

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About Deborah

Deborah Jane Milton, Ph.D. is an artist, mentor, and eco-psychologist, mother of four and grandmother of eight.
This entry was posted in gaialogue, truth and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Our Animal Selves

  1. I am LOVING the snow here……so delightful…..best snow ever….(says the little Patty that loves snow)! We may get over a foot here in Polson!
    You know I miss ya!
    Pj

    Like

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