Sunday, April 4, 2010

Some Timely Thoughts: Passover, Easter, Life and Legacy

   6"If you happen to come upon a bird's nest along the way, in any tree or on the ground, with young ones or eggs, and the mother sitting on the young or on the eggs,  you shall not take the mother with the young;
 7you shall certainly let the mother go, but the young you may take for yourself, in order that it may be well with you and that you may prolong your days.                                                              -Deuteronomy 22:6,7 NASB
                            ©2009 Photography by Elyse Gardner
    Warm and sincere holiday greetings to all during this special week for so many. 
    While matters of faith are not something I venture into on this blog very often, in view of this profound week for many faiths and in view of something long on my mind, I must share this important principle set forth in the Bible in one of the major books of the "law."  Indulge me a moment, please. 
    God is talking about people and their relationship to animals.  He is telling the Jewish people what is right and what is wrong in man's relationship to animals, both wild and domestic. 
    One of the things He says is:
"Do not muzzle the ox while he is treading out the grain."  -Deuteronomy 5:4
    I love that.  This means that the ox must be free to eat while he is stomping around in the corn, that it would not be fair to muzzle him so that he couldn't even eat while he was in the middle of all that food.  This God is thinking about His animals, telling the people He put in charge of them how He expects them to properly, compassionately care for these animals -- His animals.  The ox is working, but God insists he be treated considerately.  (I hope y'all just go with the points I'm making and don't get too hung up on my using the male pronoun for God. If Jesus could do it, who am I to argue?  It's simple and straightforward.)
©Video images courtesy of Robert Bauer and Elyse Gardner
Lightning (right) and son Baltic in the Calico Mountains, October 2009.
Lightning (left) trots to greet son Baltic and Baltic's mare.  They have a wonderful visit.  See video below. 
    In the topmost quote above, God is talking about a wild bird, a "nest along the way."  He is telling the people that they must not remove all generations:  If they are going to take the eggs, or even the young, they are to leave the mother.  It follows that she is to remain so she can procreate, so she can produce future generations, so her legacy, her contribution to life, will be allowed to be made.  Her life and legacy will be added to the world and will not be lost.  It is a command:  "You shall not take the mother with the young...that you may prolong your days."
   The command bears an inherent promise of uninterrupted,  long life as God planned if people live in honor of these principles, and an implication of discipline, shorter life, if this principle is violated.  This isn't a suggestion; God is serious about this.   
   In my "Updates" post of March 23, you see beautiful Tomahawk and son Painted Arrow caged at Fallon; you see Lightning and Baltic; General and son True are there, too, and many, many others.  I am so deeply troubled at the profound sweep of the mountain, where whole families are, whoosh, wiped out.  These families and their "genetics," once gone, cannot be replaced.  
    How many are left, do you think?  Do you realize BLM took most of the horses from that whole area?  Not some:  Most.  Generations.  Mothers and eggs.  There is a deep mourning, a lamenting, a wailing deep in my soul, deep in the souls of those who understand.  
    When I saw that verse about the mother and her eggs, I instantly understood about the horses, the generations.  The mountains grieve the loss of these generations of beauties that so animate her rimrocks, her clefts and thickets, her meadows.   Dare I say that God Himself mourns the loss?  Yes, because it is right there in the verse:  You shall not take...
                                ©2009 Photography by Elyse Gardner
    The meadow where Lightning so courteously escorted his visiting son, honoring Baltic's gestures to stay back from his mare, stands empty now (after you watch the video, below, you'll see what I mean.  Lightning is so cool, such a gentleman).  Mares do not leave their stallions when the helicopter is on them; they all cling together. They flee together, so we may be certain that the whole family, albeit broken up in different pens, is now in Fallon.
   But born out of the hope inherent in Passover and Easter, where God initiates action and makes His presence known to humankind, let us celebrate the wild horses in their element in confidence and simple appreciation of their maker and of them.  I thank God for the wild horses today -- yes, and the burros, too --  and for the very gift of life and power to overcome wrong, be it in me or in the world.   
   I have a treat for you, courtesy of advocate and friend, Bob Bauer.  This is straight footage from a trip Craig Downer and Bob Bauer took in October 2009 to see the "starving horses" and "deteriorated range" that BLM was making ready to strip of 2700 of her wild ones.  As you can see, these horses are wonderfully healthy, and the range was thriving in the midst of one of her wetter years in a while.  We can restore these horses.
      Come on, Secretary Salazar:  stop this runaway train.  Please restore these horses.  Restore at least a generation. Restore these families to the land that has so carefully nurtured them for so many years.   For Easter, return the Calico horses to the range.  Especially the older horses.  The horse society cannot stabilize and fulfill its environmental niche when it continues to be traumatized and lose so many of its elders every few years to the culling of an indiscriminate helicopter.  It is not fair to traumatize these herds into compensatory reproduction and then complain that they multiply too quickly.  
    Enough.  Let us spend a few sweet minutes with these amazing animals.  Watch how courteous Lightning is, how he respects the space his son Baltic asks for, keeping back from Vesper, Baltic's blue roan mare, as they walk along, allowing Baltic to lead off even though Lightning is clearly in charge.  
    Baltic is very concerned about guarding Vesper, telling her where he wants her to stand while the other stallions play. He is a handsome, worried new husband, very much on the job.   She is pretty blase about the whole deal and a little irked at so much direction from her handsome mate.  Nevertheless, she does what he asks after expressing just a tad of annoyance.  
    Dusk is a gorgeous bay stallion whose mares trot right over to Lightning's band while the men play; clearly they've all done this before.  Watching this glorious footage, I forget for the moment that these horses are now locked up in pens at Broken Arrow holding facility in Fallon, Nevada, facing Pigeon Fever.  What a terrible thing humans are doing to them. 
    Wishing you all a holy, grateful weekend, grateful springtime, whatever your personal faith.  

  (If the video doesn't load properly for you, click on, or copy and paste this direct
link to the Youtube video into your address bar.  It will take you right to the video:  )
     For the wild horses, captive and free, and their humble burro friends, 


  1. Thank you so much, Elyse, for this beautiful and inspiring post on Easter Sunday.

    The fight continues.

  2. Extremely touching and so poignant....just 6 months ago these horses were wild, free, and so healthy....and now at the hands of the BLM it is so, so sad to see what's happened to them, their lives, their health, their spirit--so criminal in every sense of that word. An Auschwitz for horses.

    Thank you, Elyse, for showing us who they really are--and who they were until captured and essentially destroyed.

  3. Wow, what a beautiful heartbreaking to think they are locked up. Thank you so much for this whole entry! We must not give up!

  4. The essence of the Mustangs Spirit is freedom. The beauty and majesty renew the soul. The Onaqui herd in UT that I based "Among the Mustangs" on, was rounded up. I hope the Calico herd fares better. Thank you for this post Elyse!