[Come summer heat, much of my blogging momentum melts away. Hence an experiment until Labor Day: fifty minimalist posts about whatever.]
As long as I’ve known him, Bill has enjoyed televised nature programs. Me not so much. They’re almost always about strange birds in equatorial countries, animals struggling to reproduce and survive among predators, inhospitable areas of earth where indigenous men take prodigious risks to feed their families. So we used to trade off: a program for him, a program with more narrative thrust for me. This worked well because we both enjoy holding hands while watching, which usually trumped choice of what to watch.
Now as I grow older, Bill’s programs have become more difficult for me. I’m aware of what’s almost certainly coming. If it’s about northern wolves, a large starving bear will seize a wolf cub when its mother leaves to seek food. The cub is just a fluffy puppy really, tumbling about happily in his snowy new world. Why must he be mortally pierced by those fierce fangs? Sometimes they also show you the blood on the snow, a shot of the bereft mother. “How can you stand it?” I demand. “I don’t look,” says Bill. “But that’s life. And the photography’s wonderful.”
Last night a sea lion on an iceberg in Antartica was hunted by a school of killer whales. The whales used teamwork to break up the iceberg till the sea lion was clinging to a scrap of ice. Then one whale caught his tail in its jaws. The camera focused directly on the face of the doomed sea lion being pulled backwards into the icy waters to what it must have known was its own sure death. From now on, Bill will have to admire his wonderful nature photography alone.
I know that’s life. I also know whose death it really is the thought of which I cannot bear.