Benign Backdrops

Written
March 31, 2020
Occurred
Fall 2005
a picture of a blue jay by Mathew Schwartz, courtesy Unsplash Matthew Schwartz Sometime around late 2005, [#a2l46a] shared a story with us during roundup (a ritual we did several times a day in which each of us described our day and what we learned from it) about a small garden he keeps in the back of his yard. His spouse made delicious pies and sourced some of the ingredients from this yard. We sampled several of them during summer program in 2006, and they tasted delicious. He mentioned how he was concerned about pests ruining the harvest.
"One day", he says, "I woke up and I noticed some blue jays pecking at the crops. I took out my shotgun and poofed them out of existence from my bedside window. The others flew away." [#a0p42r], who had walked in on that remark, said "My god, [first name reference]. Why'd you have to do that?" [#a2l46a] replied: "Just because it's pretty looking doesn't mean it doesn't harbor bad intentions. I remember them putting an ordinance out against crows but for blue-jays, and I always felt it made no sense. I don't regret taking the shot and I'd do it again in a heartbeat."
He went on to say how blue-jays are more inclined to go after crops (due to their diet) than crows, which largely subsist on scavenging and carrion. The ordinance ignores the laws of nature, he says, and puts backyard gardening at risk because it affords protection to the wrong bird. "Crows are more likely to scare bluejays away than a scarecrow scares crows away". I didn't get it then, but I believe he was trying to remind us that character matters when we socialize. No matter a person's outward appearance, skepticism based on learned realities is a valid survival mechanism.
I regret not appreciating that wisdom earlier. I regret what I did six months later even more.
- 🚏