“In Praise of the Vulture”
While there is much in nature that is beautiful – sunsets, tigers, roses, mountains, bluebirds – and this is just a wee sample, there are also some very ugly sights as well. And the highways and byways of Arkansas often serve as a display platform for one of the most hideous of all of all of nature’s sights – the mashed and bloody upturned carass of an armadillo! And if this isn’t horrible enough, add in the view of a five or more vultures pulling the bloody guts out of the mangled armadillo. Not a pretty sight, indeed!
But let’s not dismiss this sight with disdain and disgust and especially the role of the vulture in this road horror scene. Admitedly, while the two players in this drama are perennially number one and number two in the World’s Most Ugly Contest, there is something quite wonderful taking place, and upon further thought, we humans owe the repulsive vulture great thanks. Except for a few like-minded crows, the vulture heroically jumps right into the stink and gore of the mutilated armadillo, and as it enjoys the armadillo sushi, it is actually cleaning up an ungodly mess that no other critter would touch – including us human beings. I’ve never seen a citizen upon coming to the gruesome splatter of a car-struck armadillo, stop his vehicle and remove the bloody remains into a garbage bag or whatever he has handy for a coffin.
The service provided by the vulture is a marvelous example of God’s provision for dealing with the inevitable debris that death presents: a dead animal’s remnants are ingested by an army of nature’s clean-up squad – vultures, maggots, and even bacteria – who then process these not-so-fresh meals into elements that are needed for new life – mainly fertilizer. Nothing goes to waste! Hail to the Vulture!
And all this is said to now introduce the glory and majesty of a type of sale known variously as yard-, garage-, moving-, estate-, and auction sale. These venues serve to efficiently dispose of the junk humans have acumulated over their lifetimes. Most humans are pack rats dedicated to gathering, buying, collecting, displaying, storing, and saving up all the stuff of life: clothes, dishes, pictures, tools, figurines, collectables, photos, books, furniture, gadgets, radios, TVs, CDs, VCRs, ad infinitum..
Finally, when life’s curtain falls over the human packrat, all his stuff is now much like the armadillo’s carcass and having about the same value – it needs to be moved off and out of his house and storage units. Similar to the service performed by the vulture, a human removal and clean-up squad comes on the scene to do its part. The first responders are usually some of the deceased’s survivors with occasional help coming from the deceased’s fellow church members. The initial process is about as enjoyable as the despicable job performed by the vulture as it processes the armadillo’s remains. It involves climbing into dusty attic spaces, stumbling over dirt floored crawl spaces, wading through rental storage unts, inventorying oily junk in the garage, exploring back closets, closed garment bags, and shelves upon shelves loaded with books, knic-knacs.
Next comes another set of daunting tasks: first, sorting, classifying, and cleaning the junk; then putting little price stickers on each item which is a major strain on one’s decision making part of the brain; and finally, setting all the stuff out on tables and other spaces for the prospective buyers to see. (Note: Only the strong make it to this point as many fall by the wayside and give up by sending all the stuff off to Wear and Share. Men are particularily notorious for bailing out here as they neither have the patience nor the cheapness required to participate in this form of disposal. I speak from experience.)
Next Week: Everything Ends Up Somewhere!