Shoot the Things!

The Ragtag Daily Prompt for today:  ENOUGH!
The Word of the Day Challenge:  USUAL
Sue’s Jibber Jabber prompt word: HISTORY
Fandango’s One-Word ChallengeBABY
And here’s my response — an oft-beaten drum of mine:

Down with Imports!

I’d like to meet the fellow who thought we needed English sparrows here in Canada. I’d like him to know just what havoc he has wrought, how badly these aggressively invasive pests have decimated the native population. Already at risk because man has taken over their native land, our local birds also have to contend with these invasive imports. Add starlings to this list, too.

Some of my current grief is our own fault, I will admit. Last winter we thought we’d put out a feeder for chickadees, woodpeckers, nuthatches — all those cute birds that do linger here over winter. And what did we get? Oodles of English sparrows. Unlike the native birds, they have no idea of migrating, no native southern winter region.

This spring when my tree swallows returned, the sparrows were still hanging around even though we’d quit putting out feed a month before. One pair claimed one of the nest boxes we’ve set up for swallows. Another pair took over the swallow house on the north side of our house. One pair of swallows looked like they’d hang onto the south-side nest. But no. The sparrows drove them out, too. I only hope they didn’t kill the swallows as they are wont to do. I was furious when I found a dead swallow in the nest two years ago; the sparrows just built on top of their victim.

Enough! It’s too late to provide nests for the swallows and I don’t want a bunch of starving baby birds around our yard, so I’ll leave things as they are until summer’s over. But once our usual birds have left I’m inviting my grandsons over with their rifles and we can have a Sparrow Liquidation.

Invasive Species Still Coming

This is my personal grief, but others in this area have had grief because some light-bulbs thought they could import wild boars for sport hunting. The creatures thrived; with no natural enemies they soon took over woodlands. Now to get rid of them! A few years back our menfolk had a giant boar hunt and killed as many as they could. But the creatures have great instincts for survival.

History is full of examples of species brought over from “the old country” to become a horrible nuisance in a new world. Rabbits in Australia, for one. And Canada geese. Fine here, but they aren’t wanted in Australia. Anacondas in the Everglades are the product of exotic pet sales. Ditto with the piranhas dumped in the Southern lakes and rivers.

Some people have no comprehension as to what they’ll do when the reptile or fish they wanted as a “novelty pet” gets too big — or the owner has to move — or whatever. But our governments should be able to learn from history and ban the import of exotic creatures.

And they have, to some extent. But if some teenager wants a Komodo dragon because it’s “rare and unique,” somebody else will find a way to capture one and smuggle it in. And this is really sad, because how many little ones will die in risky transit methods?

I read an interesting new item one time: a woman coming in by plane was stopped at US customs and it was discovered she had fourteen rare baby lizards — illegal to import — stuffed in her blouse. Destined for sale as rare pets. Two stars for SANGFROID; five stars for INANITY.

Save the native flora and fauna from extinction!
Ban the import of exotic species.

reptile-3110174_640
Imagae by Schwoaze  —  Pixabay

Great Balls of Fire!

The Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning is FIRE IN THE SKY
and the Word of the Day Challenge is UNPREDICTABLE

First I should say that all bloggers are welcome to join in and write a post in response to the prompts. So if these prompt words give you an idea for a post, just click on the names (links) above for more details.

sundog-4454929_640
Michael McGough — Pixabay

A person could give various responses to the image of “fire in the sky.” A blazing sunrise or sunset would qualify. Here on the prairie we see some amazing sundogs, partial rings or halos on one side or both sides of the sun.

Of course one of the main displays of fire in the sky is lightning, which reminds me of a couple of stories I once heard.

My husband’s mother spent her first eight years in Manitoba and apparently the electrical storms there were furious and unpredictable back in those days. She says every time there was a thunderstorm her parents would gather the children all around in one room. After moving to Saskatchewan, they did this during the first few storms but soon decided our storms here didn’t pose a threat, so her parents quit this practice.

Visiting friends in Manitoba once, there was a wild thunderstorm, but no serious damage. In the morning they recalled another storm they’d had where ball lightning fell from the clouds and they watched balls of fire roll along the road by their place. So we understand why Grandpa & Grandma Letkeman took the precautions they did while they lived in Manitoba.

Weather patterns have changed a lot over the years, maybe due to settlement and many trees planted here on the prairie. Records show and old timers talk of wild storms, blizzards and heat waves like we never see these day — thankfully!

Lightning can have really unpredictable consequences. We read an account where a farmer had just built a new barn, the door of which had the standard Z of brace-boards across the back to fortify the vertical door boards. Nails holding this all together were evenly spaced all along this Z.

Soon after, an electrical storm passed over their farm. The next morning the farmer went out to do his chores and when he slid open the barn doors, the wood all fell in a heap at his feet. A lightning bolt had hit the barn and just jumped from nail to nail along the door, sizzling every one. One tug on the door and the whole thing gave way.

 

“IF” We Were Conquered

The Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning was WHAT IF
Sue’s Jibber Jabber prompt word is WIN
The Word of the Day challenge is THEME
Fandango’s writing challenge for today is APROPOS, a word which means “something both relevant and opportune” or “in an opportune time”

Putting these together, I have come up with…

“IF” Day in Winnipeg

As World War Two is raging across Europe, town counselors in the city of Winnipeg, Manitoba, asked the question, “WHAT IF the enemy conquers Europe, and proceeds to conquer Canada?”

Deciding to do something dramatic to demonstrate this APROPOS question, the city arranged for a takeover, calling it “IF Day.” This THEME had a two-fold purpose: it would give the citizens a small but realistic picture of what European cities were enduring — and what we’d be in for if the Axis powers would WIN the war — and it would prompt the sale of more war bonds.

Importing German army uniforms from Hollywood, and hiring actors for key roles, the city staged a takeover On Feb 19, 1942. The morning started with a mock battle involving more than 3,500 Canadian troops and reservists who battled it out realistically with weapons, tanks, smoke and gunshots. (This was, in fact, the largest military mobilization ever yet seen in the province.)

Citizens heard gunfire in the city’s outskirts; artillery smoke drifted over; routed Canadian forces fled through the downtown. Then came lines of “enemy” troops and armored personnel carriers, conducting their victory parade down Portage Avenue, which was renamed Adolfhitlerstrasse. Nazi soldiers marched into City hall; the Mayor and City counselors were arrested and led away to “an unknown fate.” The Nazi flag was hoisted over the city center.

A mock newspaper was printed up, the first section announcing the “victory” at Winnipeg and filled with Nazi propaganda. Among other proclamations, the Boy Scout troops were ordered to disband. The city’s Jews had to wear Star of David armbands. The latter part of the paper, however, contained serious accounts written by a number of the city’s immigrants, detailing what the Nazis had already done to their homelands.

As the day went on, citizens were harassed. One on-site reporter’s papers were seized and torn up; a city bus was stopped and all passengers had to provide ID. According to news accounts, this wasn’t polite questioning, either; they were “rough” searches. At once point Nazi officers stomped into a restaurant to arrogantly harass the staff and force out existing diners. According to an account written by Tristan Hopper, “This wasn’t just a few swastika flags carried through the town; civilians were quite literally being harassed and verbally abused by fake Nazis.”

“If Day” was a great demonstration and a huge success in rallying the citizens against Nazism. The sale of war bonds at that time raised $65 million. Still, “If Day” had to present a sanitized version of what Nazis actually did to captured cities. The year 1942 went down as the deadliest year of the Holocaust, as Nazi death squads used mass shootings and burnings to obliterate whole communities in Ukraine, Poland and other captured territory in Eastern Europe.

Of Good Deed & High Hats

In the poem I posted yesterday I wrote about a hand-me-down dress. Though I’ve changed the circumstances, I did have a particular story in mind. Years ago I read a memoir by Maria Campbell, called HALFBREED. She gives a little history of her people and then tells of her own life as a Métis woman in a predominantly white world. it’s quite a history!

QUICK FACTS

When the white men came from Europe, a number of them married – or lived with – native women. Their offspring became a group in their own right, the Métis people and they initially settled along the Red River in Manitoba. The government signed treaties with the indigenous people and settled them on reservations, but the Métis, being neither this nor that, got no special favours from Canadian or Manitoba governments. In fact, after the Riel Rebellion they were driven off their farms and many migrated to northern Saskatchewan. Some did start up farms; others survived however they could.

Maria was born in the settlement around Prince Albert, SK, to a couple who were scraping by, but rich in their love for each other and their family. Her mother died young (before Maria was a teen, as I recall) and her father never remarried. So the children grew up with their grandmother filling in as much as she could, but they missed out by not having a mother’s care and teaching.

BOXING DAY GIFTS

Boxing Day back in merry old England was a time to give the servants and/or “the poor among us,” a treat or gift, often food. It was boxed up in a nice package and handed over to servants or carried to the elderly and infirm. This practice was more common years back and Canada has kept the day, if not the practice.

Anyway, this event was still carried on by the women’s groups in Maria’s area. Feeling sympathy for the poor native children, community women would make up boxes with goodies and clothing their children didn’t want anymore or had outgrown. After Christmas they’d go around to the native and Métis communities and hand these out. Every year Maria’s family would get several of these boxes.

Her father would burn them. Oh, the children would wail! They knew from their friends that there was candy and good food inside and they wanted it.

Perhaps her father was a proud man who didn’t want any kind of charity, but as she got older Maria began to see what he’d spared them by burning those boxes. When native and Métis children wore those hand-me-down clothes to school, the white children would mock them. Maria would hear sarcastic comments like, “I see you’re wearing my old dress. I got a new one.”

In my poem I had the little girl tear up her dress and stuff it under a bush, tired of being mocked by the childish former wearer.

It’s interesting how many words and expressions there are in English for looking down on others. Snobbish; snooty; top-lofty, high hat. Do we need so many terms because there’s so much of it done?

HIGH HATS COME IN EVERY SHADE

And children love trying them out. On one hand a child can seem so accepting that his parents are delighted; the next time the child will act so arrogant his parents are dismayed. Though we try to teach our children tolerance for others, and for different ways of doing things, “We’re better than you,” is a refrain some of them love to chant.

It’s a challenge to teach children! Accepting others who are different doesn’t come naturally. To make matters worse, the more you draw attention to the differences in people and stress how “we must accept them,” the more unnatural it becomes. And children are quick to spot the difference between what parents are saying and what they do.

Maria writes about “the white people” and the Métis, but her account would read much the same if it were whites versus blacks, the English versus the Irish, one religion versus another, or the rich versus the poor anywhere in the world. This isn’t a new problem.

“SECOND-HAND” TODAY

Genuinely good deeds are prompted by a concern for our fellow human beings and people do appreciate kindness. I buy at Value Village myself. But so much of what they receive is shipped overseas. Are we making ourselves feel good while disrupting the economy in other countries?

Perhaps we need to check our attitudes when we buy ourselves nice new duds and ship our old stuff to charity —  “Let’s send this to the poor people in Africa” is coming to an end; they’re starting to reject our charity.

Of Whales, Prophets, and Mixes

The Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning is BELLY

And the thought that comes to my mind first is the Bible account of Jonah being swallowed by a whale, which the old prophet compared to being in hell. We might, too! I doubt the whale was happy to play host, either.

In the Biblical book of Jonah, the giant creature is called a fish:
Now the LORD had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.
Then Jonah prayed unto the LORD his God out of the fish’s belly, and said, “I cried by reason of mine affliction unto the LORD, and he heard me; out of the belly of hell cried I, and thou heard my voice.”
Jonah 1: 17; 2: 1-2

It’s Jesus, centuries later, who specifically named it as whale:
But he answered and said unto them, “For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” Matt. 12: 39-40

Jesus often compared between the old Law and the instructions He was giving. We see many literal demonstrations in the Law that took on a more intense meaning in the New. Like where Jesus told his listeners, “Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: but I say unto you, that ye resist not evil. Whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. Matt 5:38-39

Where the Old Testament taught fairness, an even return for damage inflicted, Jesus went beyond the Law and taught forgiveness. He urged his listeners to suffer a wrong rather than retaliate with anger and violence.

What happened to Jonah was a literal demonstration of what would someday happen to Jesus. However, certain laws demonstrated literally a meaning that later was understood in a symbolic way. For example, one Old Testament law said the Jews must not weave a garment with two different fibers. So, no poly-cottons in Israel’s day. Neither could they seed a field with two different grains.

Does God, the Heavenly Father, frown on mixed fibers and grain? No, but He does frown on unequal mixes, the combining of good and evil. This law is the literal demonstration of a spiritual truth: it displeases him when we take something that comes from pagan or evil roots, swipe it with a whitewash brush of religion, and call it “good now.” Which explains why many Christian people through the centuries have rejected the deck of playing cards because they are derived from the tarot card deck, a thing of occult origin.

And this is enough about Jonah and the Whale, laws and illustrations. Have a great week, everyone.

The Path Ahead

Good morning everyone. A rainy day here on the prairie and we’re welcoming the moisture.

I wonder how many of you readers remember that Certs ad of long ago, where two young ladies are debating:
“Certs is a candy mint!”
“Certs is a breath mint!”
And the announcer says, “Stop! You’re both right. New Certs is two, two, two mints in one.”
According to Wiki, Certs was introduced in 1956 and heavily advertised this way on American television in the ’60s and ’70s.
And most of you won’t give two, two, two hoots about this. 🙂

What brought this on? I’m doing two writing challenges this morning:
The Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning is: THE PATH AHEAD
And Sammi’s Weekend Writing Challenge calls for a 23-word response including the word KALEIDOSCOPE. Here’s her logo:

And here’s my diminutive response to both:

A kaleidoscope of summer tones
on the path ahead,
the trilling of songbirds,
wraps her in its unique condolence.
He wasn’t coming back.