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Monday, May 31, 2004

Earlier this month, a couple of our friends went with us fishing. I actually don't have my license so I took pictures of the beautiful woods with my new camera.

The guys caught some fish, but also caught a lot of eels. I was returning from a potty break in the woods when I was told to watch my step. There was an eel laying in the sand by the tackle box. I asked why it wasn't in the water, they said "because it's an eel". I asked if they were just going to just let it die. It was already half dead as they were pretty brutal getting the hook out of it, and they told me I could put it back in the water if I wanted. I put my boot under it's body and gently sent it flying back into the lake.

The second eel caught seemed to have the same fate in store, so in the attempt to save it's life, I annouced a memory I had of my first eel that I had caught in my youth.

I was about 10 and I thought I had caught a snake. Some guys came running over and grabbed my line, put the "snake" on a boulder and smashed it's head with a rock. That was so horribly devastating for me. I couldn't believe that they had just done that. I didn't have any idea why they did it. So here, as I was reminiscing about this horrible memory, was another eel on a fishing line, and before I could finish my last thought, that eel was also crushed with a rock. I was stunned, mouth opened and speechless. Finally, I asked why they had to do that.

The answer was, "eels are annoying."

They threw the body into the water and kept the head on the line for bait. I turned away, but ever once in awhile had to pass the outline of the head-less body in the shallows.

I was told that I wasn't allowed to accompany them anymore if I was going to "act" like this. Although I had never once opened my mouth once about them jamming hooks threw the bodies of live minnows and worms, I guess the facial expressions were enough. I was certain they didn't want to hear my speech about how good worms were to the earth.

I opened the window yesterday and found a moth crawling around the screen. It was one of the biggest moths I have ever seen, 'bout the size of a 50 cent piece. Okay, that was a fish story, it was more like a 40 cent piece.

Unlike some people whose first reaction would be to crush it, my reaction would be to open the screen in the window and let it go free - free to be the wild thing it is. However, I have a fish in the other room that would have loved to eat it, so I reconsidered the release.

Normally it would take me a few, if not several seconds to debate whether or not to end this little life - but I felt that my fish would really rather enjoy this snack.

Recently my fish not been eating well. She had been ignoring her floating sticks. I can't blame her. Floating sticks are just not that appealing, nor are they very much fun to chase. In case most of you are used to owning goldfish or tetras, I guess I should tell my you my fish is a 12" Oscar. Her name is Panama and she is sharing a 55 gallon tank with a very mean Jack Dempsy, who is a quarter her size and is the only reason the two can tolerate each other.

When we first got Panama, we were sure she would not survive. She was slightly disfigured and abnormally small. Amazingly, she outlasted all the other fish we had, aside from her buddy the Dempsy. We have quite a bond with her. But Panama is not a passive fish. Aside from maming all the other fish that used to be in her tank (besides this one companion she has sparred) she has been seen many time slamming her face into the side of the tank or attacking the heater, hence breaking her jaw. She has actually broken it twice so that now she is severely crooked in the mouth. Amazingly she is still able to eat her sticks; but right now, she just doesn't want to.

About three weeks ago Earl brought home some "un-used" minnows from a fishing trip (as I write this, I see he still has the Styrofoam cup sitting on the fish stand) and threw them in the tank with these two giant carnivorous fish. Panama swallowed one immediately. This minnow has turned her appetite around, given her color back, and has her been back in the swing of things.

So at the moment with this moth, I figured this fresh bug may make her even happier. I cupped my hand and gently closed my fingers around the moth.

I had a funny feeling - like I was about to be responsible for ending this little life force. I had a flashback. I thought of my little stink bug friend. I thought of all the eels I had known. I even thought of my yogi Dharma Mittra and how he said if you have to kill a cockroach, do it fast. Then I thought of how my Oscar would not be in the situation of being in a tank waiting for her "god" to feed her if I didn't put her there to begin with. Okay, the pet store put her in this situation and I know she can't survive on her own, so I am responsible for keeping her alive at this point. Then I thought, hey, don't moths only live a couple of days anyway? It probably was going to end up committing suicide in a porch light anyway, or better yet, starving to death in my window.

It wasn't hard for me to realize that I cared more for Panama than the moth. I opened the tank's lid and put my fist into the water, holding the moth under until it stopped fluttering. That was very hard for me to do. Have you ever attempted to hold something under water until it stopped breathing? If Panama was going to have any chance of eating this moth, I had to hold it there - moths have a unique ability to bounce off water and end up stuck to the bulb in the hood of the tank.

So I held it under until it seemed motionless but was not dead. Fish only like their bugs alive - and I didn't want the moth to die for nothing.

But the whole drowning thing... man was that hard.

It stopped stuggling and I let go. I was lucky, it landed on it's back. This was a good thing. If it had been upright, it may regain it's senses and took off. It simply floated to the surface, twitching just enough to catch Panama's eye. Within seconds, Panama's great crooked mouth opened and swallowed it up. She was pleased, I could tell. She had a smile on her face and I knew I had down good by her. The only thing going through her mind right now was that her god had treated her well.

I doubt I will ever get over the death of things. I would make a terrible savage. Obviously if I have to kill for my family I will...

Some people don't think twice about squishing a bug, or shooting the eye out of bird with a bebee gun, or... well, I could get into a whole new topic with this but I can't handle that right now. I just don't get how some have no respect for life, no matter how small it may be.

If you believe in karma, you may be squishing someone you once knew, or someone you have yet to know.