For 2008, resolved: I'll be less troublesome, and so might you
Here's my New Year's resolution for 2008: To be less troublesome. This will come as great news to my family, and since I only keep New Year's resolutions, on average, for about two weeks, it shouldn't be too rough on me either.
But I'm gung-ho now, and I owe it all to a picture that ran in this newspaper a few weeks ago. It was of a beautiful white bird, a mute swan that had been shot by a local man on a hunting trip out west. The caption identified the swan as an "invasive, troublesome species," which is pretty much true. They're very pushy, hissy, and gobble up the food supply of other critters in their vicinity.
But the picture got me to thinking about another invasive, troublesome species. No, not the presidential candidates, a peculiar sort of non-native bird that swoops into the Vineyard to fill its beak with money and swoops out. I'm thinking more broadly, of the invasive species that is us. Humans. Two-legged, carbon-based, and no end of trouble. No doubt the mute swans would call us that, and a few other things as well, if they had their own weekly newspaper.
On the Vineyard we like to think we're less trouble to the planet than most people. Global warming? We wouldn't do that. Just look at West Tisbury: you can't swing a wild turkey in that town without hitting a composting, recycling, Prius-driving granny scarfing down granola on her way to the Dumptique to select her spring wardrobe.
Just everyday-driving-around-wise, we Islanders probably use less gas than anybody else in America, because where the hell are we going to go? We love all critters, and we'll go the mat for just one persecuted rooster. We hate people who mow down habitat to build helipads. Hate hate hate. We boo people who bring Hummers on the Island. Okay, I do. (How about this: we put up a sign reading "Hummers This Way: Free Parking" at the ferry terminal, and when their owners drive into my specially designed lot, their cars fall into a giant pit of ticks. Too much?)
But the sad truth is that even we, who think we are the good guys, are spewing waste, fouling up the water, and just generally exerting our dominion over the earth by trampling anything that gets in the way of our civilization, even here.
What if the creatures of earth, sea, and sky decided to get together one day to overthrow their tormentors, i.e., us? It could be happening even now. Perhaps those cute forest creatures with their big Disney eyes are secretly in cahoots, plotting our demise. The mute swans could be talking more than we think. I saw a deer loping down Causeway Road in Vineyard Haven a while back: was it lost, or part of an advance guard, scouting the enemy? Think of the lobsters, lined up in their watery Death Row at the fish market. Could they be passing information down the line: "The revolution begins at dawn"? The dogs will surely be loyal, but I never trusted a cat in my life.
I suspect that, like Democrats on Iraq, the other species complain endlessly but can't agree on a plan of action. Lucky for us. Still, I'm vowing to be especially nice to all critters this year. Hence, the vow of making less trouble in the world. Let's try it. Next time you want to tell a piping plover to pipe down, think twice. He could be armed. There, there. Nice birdie.
Julie Kimball, a freelance writer, is the author of "45 Minutes to America." She lives in Oak Bluffs.