25. Sep, 2014

War of a different kind

The sound of gunfire echoed through the village as I tried to write. Birds panicked and scattered across the sky, squawking and screeching. I could hear the power of their wings and felt their fear. No, I don’t live in a war torn city but a quiet village in a beautiful part of Wales. So what is going on?

     I can only guess that up on the moors people are hunting the grouse, the partridge, ducks, rabbits and other unsuspecting and innocent creatures. I pray for them all, especially the young grouse I wrote about just recently. This little feller has hardly had time to live. Run little bird and hide where the enemy cannot get you.

    I remember a time, when I was a little girl, standing in the garden of our home listening to the sound of gunfire. ‘It’s the pigeon shoot,’ my father said to me and I was too shocked to reply. ‘It will quieten down in a minute,’ he said, ‘while they take a break before collecting the birds.’ I did not wait to hear anymore, but ran to find my brother.

    Together, and on my instructions, my brother and I hid between rows and rows of runner beans, growing in the same field where the men were shooting. I ran back and forth collecting the injured birds and gave them to my brother who ran with them to our barn. We found around eighty wood pigeons and collared doves.

    In the barn (ignoring the shouts of frustration from the gunmen) I set about nursing these animals that were struggling with a long and painful death with their bodies battered with many pellets or whatever it is they use to shoot them with, far too many to remove. But we tried. We bathed their wounds and held them as they died. As I sang to them the words from ancient hymns, my tears fell on their tiny heads.  With their life over we buried them, with the help of my father, in our garden by the woods that was once their home.

    It is silent again now. Please let it stay that way!