By definition, food chain means, “The sequence of the transfer of food energy from one organism to another in an ecological community.” That ecological community, being a jungle, sub-Saharan desert, or the bottomless abyss that constitutes the ocean. It’s every man for themselves, despite the scientifically-imposed pecking order. Sharks will eat the fish but never vice versa. The coyotes will eat the deer, the foxes will eat the rabbits and chickens if they’re lucky, but for the most part, the balance or if you must, the circle of life, remains, well, balanced.
Well, at least in some ecological communities. I for one, have witnessed food chain dyslexia. My cat scares my dog, who unbeknownst to her, is far older, slower, and not to mention, completely robbed of his teeth. While my newly acquired chicken scares my cat as she flits about squawking and running towards him pleading to be his friend. It’s the reverse of the so-called food chain, and Darwin, I am sure, if he were alive, would be ever so intrigued.
This is the funny thing about nature, or at least something I have come to know in my many encounters growing up in rural Virginia. While scientists say things follow a certain order, ie. geese migrating south, tadpoles turning into frogs, and caterpillars into butterflies, while the praying mantis, a hero to all of us women bites off the head of her male lover after intercourse, there’s without a doubt, a certain flow if not Disney-esque overtone to the whole natural balance of power that we all blithely accept. Yet, like humans, the rest of nature can also make mistakes and better, upend the so-called order of things and surprise us — if not amuse us.
I say this without hesitation as I have witnessed many mistakes in my short time back in Virginia. The chicken-cat-dog scenario is just the first of many to come, I suspect. And I am not the only one searching. Take the popular video channel, The Dodo. The name actually does it justice. There are themed sequence of videos called unlikely friends, where a tiger and donkey become best buds and a raccoon and a rooster form an unbreakable bond shared over early mornings and blueberry muffins. You get the idea. The supercilious zest with which these videos are documented, posted, and shared, is alarming. Its redeeming quality, I have to say is its ability to show how nature can be a peculiar creature that is constantly evolving (I think Darwin would agree) and does not always follow the rules. The laws of nature may be harsh, but they can be broken. So whether it’s a projection of a fox and the hound scenario, or worse, the grizzly man, there’s a desire to connect to something that’s untamed, that’s unruly, that’s wild.
As for the so-called ecological community, I will continue to observe my ever expanding funny farm. Take my cat, who was only 5 minutes ago was hiding in the chicken coop while Miss Chicken circled him innocently pecking at the walls, while the dog whimpered upstairs unsure of what the beasts below were plotting. That’s prime footage for The Dodo, but I think I keep it to myself, at least until a butterfly makes us all run for the hills.