Monsters in the Woods
“For you will have a covenant with the stones of the field, and the wild animals will be at peace with you.” – Job 5:23
The man who sells the smoked trout in Woodstock was in a bad mood when I arrived. He was pretty sure a fisher had deboweled and debrained his best laying hen. “These new kids want to rehabituate the fisher, and they are making a big mistake. They know nothing about what will happen if they do. They think it is hip and natural but it’s just stupid. Fishers will eat anything including you. They like brain blood the best. I wonder what those kids are smoking.”
The fisher (Martes pennanti) is a member of the weasel family, similar to the marten.
My smoked trout purveyor reminded me of another wild animal, rehabituated, to his South. The coqui is a Puerto Rican tree frog, which was the organizing symbol for the campaign to save community gardens from former New York Mayor Giuliani and his hyperactive bulldozer. The children played inside the giant built frog, which had two large Plexiglas globes for eyes and wire mesh for a body. In Puerto Rican folklore, the coqui is known to successfully vanquish larger adversaries.
The story goes like this. There was a horrific monster in the woods. The coqui comes out, gets rid of the bad animals and saves the forest. Then he tells all the trembling animals that they could go back to bed. It was safe.
Coquis upstate to Woodstock? Fishers for New York City Mayors who harm community gardens? Sounds like a stony or stoned covenantal route to me.
With thanks for the promise of unlikely peace, from the stones and the wild, through you, O God, to us. Amen
Donna Schaper is Senior Minister at Judson Memorial Church in New York City. Check out her book: Prayers for People Who Say They Can’t Pray.