WHAT DEATH TEACHES YOU ABOUT LIFE

Regular DyingWords readers know that I’m a retired cop and coroner, but probably don’t know that in my ‘retirement’ I have the dream seasonal job.

KIL BoatI drive a wildlife tour boat for a high-end, fly-in, eco-tourism lodge on Canada’s British Columbia Pacific coast.

I take people from all over the world to see grizzly bears and whales in their wilderness habitat. I get paid to do what others pay dearly to experience. Pretty cool retirement, eh?

OrcaYesterday, I took seven guests to watch the food chain in action. (Five enjoyed it. Two didn’t. That’s their problem that they didn’t clue-in and ruined their own holiday.)

Salmon 2Actually, the chain is more like a ball. In the middle of the ball are the salmon. Right now the salmon are returning to spawn in the fresh-water rivers after completing their cycle in the open-ocean, salt-water.

Salmon eggsSalmon start life as eggs laid in the exact place where they return to die.

How do they find their way home? No one knows. The scientists write it off to instinct. That’s the easiest cop-out to get around dealing with a huge gap in the human understanding – Consciousness. But that’s for another blog.

GrizzlySo the fry salmon start out as being food for everything else that needs them; other fish, birds, mammals, insects, amphibians, and reptiles. They work the numbers game, head out en-masse to the sea where the predation continues. They fight their way home through whales and dolphins and seals and sea lions and bears and eagles and gulls and otters and wolves and, of course human fishers. (Fisher is a gender-neutral, politically-correct word that we must now use.)

Seal salmonThen, those salmon who make it through the gauntlet lay their eggs (right where they were born, remember!), and they die. Some end up in the stomachs of bears, some in eagles or seals, some in mink or martin, and some in other fish.

But nothing goes to waste. Their carcasses rot and fertilize the streams, or they are dragged on shore and fertilize the plants. Or, they are pooped out by all the feasting creatures and fertilize the riparian zone, which is the forest canopy along the stream’s edge which gives shade and protection for the eggs and the fry.

And the ball keeps rolling.

SalmonBut remove the salmon and the ball deflates.

The salmon are vitally important in keeping the earth ball bouncing.

Without the salmon, the whole food ‘chain’ collapses and nature is in one hell of a mess.

Where do you as a human life play in all this?

Well, if you come for a boat ride with me, I’ll show you how the food ball works here in the Canadian wilderness. I’ll help you observe nature at work, but I’ll let you figure out your place in the life and death cycle.

EarthHere’s a hint: You’re every much as part of the ball (which we call earth) as every other critter is.

So, go enjoy your life while you have it, because you’re going to end up dead one day.

Just like the salmon.

And all those who depend upon the salmon.

Oh, yeah! Another thing.

Please don’t ruin anyone else’s trip before you get off the boat.

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