A warning sign at a natural bridge in Bryce National Park tells people not to walk across it, because “Someday, maybe tomorrow, the bridge will fall.” It’s been my favorite sign for more than twenty years. The sentence, to me, is pure poetry, rich with layers and metaphor.
Armageddon is set to begin in two days, the world’s end to follow exactly five months later, to the day, to the minute perhaps. What does the minute look like, the minute that armageddon begins? Well, I have two days to think about it. Meanwhile, I’m keeping an eye on the eaglets, who have begun to flap their wings and spread their feet.
Now, at rest, one eaglet has its wings folded, but outspread, instead of limp by its sides. So while not fully extended, those flight muscles in the back and shoulders are working to hold the wings open, as though you held your elbows out at shoulder level, but let your forearms dangle relaxed. Every hour they advance toward flight. Maybe they have growing pains, too, in their wings, which will soon span close to six feet. Remember when they were tiny white, oddly-angled fluffballs with trembling little nubs of wings? I figure their wings have increased about tenfold in five weeks. That’s gotta hurt. I hope they make it through Saturday.
I am also, because it’s spring and time anyway, cleaning the pantry, reorganizing all the excess foodstuffs, staple and luxury, that I cannot help but hoard. And arguing with myself about the dozen big liquor bottles that I’ve been saving in case I need to store water.
Really? Is that really why I’ve saved them? Because I don’t like to store water in plastic? But I have five two-gallon blue plastic jugs that I used for years to carry, store, and dispense my drinking water, while the water I pay for (a considerable sum monthly) has been on a federal boil order for five years. Turbidity. Sufficient sediment to allow giardia and other microbes to gain a foothold, survive, and infect my household. The new treatment plant is alleged to have cleared up that problem, but they haven’t confirmed it yet. So now I risk a mere Brita filter for the tap water. Lugging the jugs was getting old, anyway, and I needed the counter space for a small microwave. Washing a pot for every leftover was getting old, too.
I’m sure those jugs have already given me all the carcinogens they have to offer, so why not recycle the big glass bottles and use only the blue jugs for armageddon instead? Well, because I am, at heart, a hoarder. I come from a family of collectors. I have ancestral stuff from four generations, looking good but causing clutter, throughout my house, my life. So I’ll send those bottles to the recycler. But they’re pretty, and they could hold even extra, extra water if the end times come.
I don’t believe it will be Saturday. I played Y2K cautiously, with a store of dried beans and bottled water, just in case. I even bought a steam distiller that heats on top of the woodstove, so I could purify my own water if it came to hauling it from the stream. How I thought I’d be able to cut fuel for the stove without gas for the chainsaw I don’t know.
I still want to build a greenhouse off the sunroom, so I can grow food year-round. I want to be a survivalist, but not have to. I want to have the capacity, the means and the skills, to fend for myself, but not have the need to prove it. Because though I don’t believe it will come day after tomorrow, I’m not sure it won’t. And I do believe that some day, possibly in my life time, the whole world will go up in smoke, either manmade or celestial.
When it does come, from a planetary collision or the human madness of nuclear war, from armageddon or slow extinction, I’m sure I won’t last long enough to die from drinking out of plastic, and I’d rather have a full bottle of gin than an empty one. I’ll stand on the deck with the dogs, a gin and tonic with lots of ice and extra lime, and watch the fireworks. I can think of a lot worse ways to go.
After four hours cleaning the pantry, I check back on the eaglets. The parents returned awhile ago, each with a fish, and offered the chicks small enticing bites, not the huge chunks they had graduated to recently. Now, chick one holds a fish in his or her talons, and tears at it as if it’s been feeding itself forever. Except, oh! There’s a chunk too big, too bony perhaps, and the chick hacks and coughs it up, spits it out. A few more bites, and this chick walks away. A second chick comes to work on the same fish. Learning to eat on its own, increasing its skills, its capacity to fend for itself. One step, one flap, at a time.