28. Carnival of the Animals (02/2010)
Celebrations in the animal world unfold as spontaneous or predictable events. For same reasons as the human race they gather at a time and place to entertain their moods and drives enriching their complicated lives: joyous, greedy, savage, and trite: just like festivals in the human plight.
The dawn chorus couldn’t bore us with the daily ode to joy when light succeeds the darkness void. And eerily at dusk in flight the bats and owls regale the night. Symphonies of crickets and frogs ensue until the scene is sparkling with dew.
Autumn equinox is the turning point of daylight length that triggers frenzied avian strength in the skies, seas and canopies of trees. The whole day fills with shrill sounds of jubilation calling birds to preparation forth, the seasonal migration north. No tickets, no reservations, no baggage, no passports, no carbon footprint, just flutter.
Food prevails among good reasons to celebrate spells of abundance. In the bushveld a lion kill provides a sequence of feasts catering way beyond the king of beasts. Vultures circling in the sky wait their turn to drop on by; lurking and laughing on the fringe hyenas tauntingly prepare to binge. Flies and ants clear up the mess, presenting themselves as a round of treats for all the insectivorous beats.
Humans frequently provide irresistible excess, attracting uninvited guests, usually considered pests. Birds flit from fig farm to grape harvest with cunning and jest.
Squawking gulls hovering over trawlers at sea trail the offerings of fish for free. Baboons revel in a banquet of maize or fruit that’s been grown especially for them to loot. Bounteous lambs unprotected by dogs or shepherds make take away meals for jackals and leopards.
Orgies occur naturally in sessions for breeding purposes and otherwise. Antelope herds at time of rutting, solicit for sex engaging in head butting. Among bonobos interactive participants explore together every diversion in sexual pleasure, unencumbered by moral dilemma.
Turning to drink starts so innocently, restricted only by availability. Fermenting maroelas are notoriously linked to elephant slurps for hiccups and burps.
Gatherings purely for fun pervade notions on how the west was won. When dolphin pods converge there’s a surge of enthusiasm to dance and play then surf the waves till break of day. Does this happen just by chance or do they receive invitations in advance?
Sometimes it’s all about the journey despite the lure of destination. At a given cue wanderlust consumes the gnu that collectively decide to drift in spectacular population shift. Lemming suicide elucidates en masse consciousness left hanging on the cliffs of crass popularity.
Intensive farms crammed with resounding cries of frustration cannot be mistaken for celebration. The cacophony of consternation, hysteria and derangement evident in any battery hen house reflects mass misery relished by humans who indulge in the cheap extravagance of omelettes, cakes and soaring cholesterol stakes. Similarly the despairing grunts of sows confined to crates infiltrate the bacon plate. The distressed bellows of feedlot grief saturates the flesh of beef.
The anguish or triumph of every noisy crowd, happy or distressed carries a message to the world. Take heed of all this fuss, there’s something in common with all of us.