Post #829   SQUATTERS: Redux

A few years ago, as was revealed in an earlier essay, we experienced an exasperating loss, but one which, on reflection, later usefully raised our consciousness and enlarged our previous reductive perception, as to a common assumption. The nature of such enlightenment is the theme of this writing.

As related in the prior essay, two, rather precarious, “bare root,” pear tree saplings, generously, but, by inexperience, given to us in October, were miraculously, kept alive until the spring planting season, by their continuous maintenance and nurturance in a second bathroom kept cold by an open window.

Subsequently, good fortune, tantalizingly, shined its capricious light on us. In spring, the pear saplings, which had, by some secular, miracle, survived the entire bare root winter in our cold second bathroom, were very gently scraped at the roots, and, optimistically, planted by us in such a fashion that the wind might enable their cross-pollination and, hopefully, consequent fruit production. After the passage of many anxious weeks and dutiful watering sessions, verdant leaves did appear and we joyfully celebrated the hoped-for, woodland miracle of the trees’ survival.

Sadly, our short-lived, arboreal good fortune seemed to wane. To condense several years into a modest paragraph, we would indicate that rather than, predictably flowering in the coming year or, perhaps, two, it took a full ten years before the two young, leafy trees flowered, and thereafter, two more years to bear noticeable fruit. We purchased a long fruit picker and arrived at our (then) weekend home with high expectations of being, rewarded, finally, with an indisputably, well-deserved bumper crop of pears.

Did we mention that our summer residential property, at the time, was near a pond? Perhaps not, in this retrospective redux, of the event. In any case, when, as previously, stated, we arrived, at our then country residence, with excited anticipation and the intention to harvest a long-awaited (12 yrs.), bumper crop of pears, we discovered to our great dismay, that both young pear trees had been chewed down to pointy stumps, evidently, by the pond’s local beavers. Our initial reaction of shock and disappointment, as stated, did, in time, however, lead to a truly revelatory, enlightenment; one, which we feel, would be useful to again articulate, most especially, to other” landowners.”   

Our shocked discovery of the arboreal tragedy, was, as stated, responded to, with major angst, disappointment, and annoyance, even anger, directed towards the beavers, as the unquestioned, perpetrators of the tragic event. A few days passed, and such anger morphed, in stages, to peaceful resignation, and thereafter, to a more comforting perception and realistic understanding of the normalcy of the incident, and finally, to a more valuable, metaphysical and enlightened understanding.

In common with the  “homeowner,” who expresses righteous anger at the deer who ate “her” planted flowers or the rabbits that ate “her” veggies, our salient error was the unshakeable assumption that such natural acts constituted a theft of (our) private property, “our” flowers, “our” pear trees. It is, rationally, certain that the hungry critters have no knowledge or instructive instincts, regarding Man’s, ethnocentric, conception of property ownership and property lines; they live in nature, and are simply, and existentially, hungry, respecting which, they do, in fact, have existentially instructive instincts.

In the rarified dimension of Planet Earth’s human society, exclusive ownership or transfer, of designated, real property, can be changed by legally approved purchase or sale. However, this writing’s spotlight is not focused upon the acquittal of animal guilt, by their defense of lack of proprietary perceptions; it is instead, focused upon what may be the human singular (ethnocentric or hubristic), arrogated, assumptions of presumptive “ownership” of selective, portions of the Planet.

Among the developed folkways of the human inhabitants of the Planet, is the legal capability to purchase “exclusive ownership” of identified pieces, or, “parcels” of property, from other “owners,”  desirous of selling the same by contract, culminating in an event of actual transfer of ownership (the Closing”). The signature, event, is attended by the seller and purchaser, their respective, attorneys, a representative from a “Title” company (to insure the accuracy of the recited boundaries of the transacted property, etc.), and, possibly, a representative of a Mortgage Company. The event concludes with the “delivery” of a new deed signifying transferred ownership to the purchaser, which is referentially, filed in the local Land Office (County Clerk).

It is a matter of irrefutable fact, that neither, beavers, deer, rabbits, or any other forest critters are customarily, afforded formal notice or invitation, to participate in the ceremony of real estate conveyance. One cogent reason may conceivably, be that the legal and practical effect of this civil dance, as a practical matter, is of interest to, and binding, only on other interested or affected members of the species, Homo sapiens. Thereafter, any unauthorized attempt to exert rights, upon the subject land, by non-owning, Homo sapiens, without permission, such as trespass or harvesting fruit, is a legal wrong, and legally, addressable. 

It may confidently, be said, that the existence of the local fauna and their naturally based, franchise to freely, partake of the local eatables, is millennia’s older than the advent of Man’s recognition of real estate ownership. The latter concept is singular to modern man, who, we gradually came to realize, conveniently, arrogates to himself, self-serving rules of exclusive ownership rights, respecting personally desired, portions of the Planet. “Critters” have existed long prior to evolution’s radical revelation, of a so-called, “sentient” being.

In empirically candid fact, the beavers gnawed down two young pear trees, not “our” two pear trees, the local deer prefer to survive on eating sweet flora, such as flower petals, irrespective of “the legal owner’s” aesthetic arrangements, and rabbits, as ever was their wont, munch away on available lettuce.

In the realistic and rational context applicable to Mother Nature, no money or real estate ceremony can elevate humankind’s essential Planetary, status above recently-arrived, “Squatters.”


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Retired from the practice of law'; former Editor in Chief of Law Review; Phi Beta Kappa; Poet. Essayist Literature Student and enthusiast.

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