Not Cruel. Just Indifferent.

It bothers me that the wood I throw into my fire every day is home to countless living creatures. Beetles and worms and spiders and ferns…

A wood pile develops a complicated and delicate ecosystem capable of supporting all manner of life.

Take this little guy. Poor fellow. Sleeping all safe and sound under his log until - BAM!

His life is ruined by some stupid freak of evolution that doesn’t even have the good sense to grow a coat of fur when it gets cold, and has to burn up perfectly good homes of perfectly innocent creatures simply to stay warm.

And this tiny newt is one of the lucky ones. I can’t help but wonder how many of these little beauties I’ve burned alive in the course of trying to keep my (alleged) hippie cabin nice and toasty.

I wonder if, when they feel the vibrations of me dislodging their happy home from the wood pile, they burrow ever deeper into the cracks and crevices of the bark in the hopes of protecting themselves. I bet they do. Way to seal your doom, newts.

If you think about it, it really would be better if they were to do the opposite - it would be better if they were to run out into the light and confront their fate, consequences be damned. They would lose their home, but they would escape with their lives.

Before I toss a piece of wood into the fire, I bang the crap out of it to try and dislodge (and thereby save) any resident critters. Some do bail out. But some of these creatures have burrowed so deeply into the creases of knots and bark, I never even see them at all; I am completely unaware of their existence.

Some of these tiny beings have second thoughts once the log is in the stove, and they try to abandon ship once they begin to feel the heat of the flames. I have spent many breathless minutes trying to rescue spiders from a horrific death without setting either the cabin or myself on fire.

Still, the fact remains that I'm responsible for the demise of dozens of creatures every single day, and that I am completely oblivious to the very existence of many of them. This sobering idea brings me to one essential conclusion:

Nature is not cruel.

Nature is indifferent.

And when I play this conclusion out on a larger scale, it kind of boggles my mind.

Am I currently burrowed deeply into the crevice of my own log of wood, feeling snug and secure in my surroundings even as some unseen hand lifts my home and moves it towards flame and destruction?

Man, I hope whoever belongs to that hand has enough kindness in their heart to give my log a good bang on the bricks before they toss it in.


  1. What an interesting subject. I never thought about it before, but you do have a point.

    I like your analogy too. You're very observant.

  2. My thoughts were going in exactly that direction as I read this, Jen. We can only save so much by the conscious effort of being aware. And we can only hope that the awareness is shared by whatever is greater than us, and we too will be knocked on our tuckus so that we get a second chance, and another, and another, and . . .