TO CARE OR NOT TO CARE…THAT IS THE QUESTION Feb.26,2012 “Rhett, Rhett, …Rhett! If you go, where shall I go? What shall I do?” to which Rhett Butler replies to Scarlet O’Hara “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn.” And so, that wonderful piece of dialogue in the final scene of “Gone With the Wind” became forever the unofficial definition of the condition we call “indifference”. And it is indifference that so far best describes the interaction our chicks have had with both the Sandhills and the DAR’s. (the title I use to describe the group of two DAR birds and 19-09). It’s neither like nor dislike, happy nor sad. They just don’t seem to care. The Sandhills and DARs will usually fly over to the chicks in the morning, surrounding them in large numbers with playful enthusiasm, but the chicks usually barely acknowledge their presence and continue to forage, more often than not eventually wandering away as if in need of their alone time, while the Sandhills follow after them. It is definitely a case of the mountain going to Mohammed instead of Mohammed going to the mountain. And it is the same for the DAR’s. Now 19-09 believes himself to be “Big Man on Campus” and struts his stuff accordingly, as if wearing a college letter sweater from Migration U., where you earn a letter for completing a migration. You know the type. But this attitude elicits no response from the chicks. After all, they earned their letters for being stuck in a pen for almost 6 weeks without developing any parasite problems and leaving the pen far stronger fliers than when they went in thus proving the naysayers wrong once again. An amazingly resilient group of chicks, these. But there have been exceptions to this theme of indifference. One night two weeks ago, #7 flew out with the Sandhills to roost, and on another night, #5 did the same. Then this week, for three straight nights all the chicks flew out to the slough with the last remaining flock of Sandhills and roosted. But the following two nights they remained here to roost alone at their usual spot. So they are not completely indifferent and they do show signs of caring. Perhaps they know just how important it is to care, and they are not like the Youtube Honey badger who just doesn’t give a #@#%$. (If you need a real laugh…and who doesn’t, google the Youtube Honey badger and see first hand what it means not to care). Maybe they know that caring morphs into not caring and back again just as day turns into night, and that without all this ebb and flow of caring, not caring, where would we be? No yard sales, no divorce courts! Life would simply not be worth living! And sure, not caring can be a valuable survival tool, but it can also be a disability worthy of a handicap parking sticker. What we do and don’t care about, after all, is one of the biggest pieces of the puzzle that is each of us. Surely the chicks are well aware of all of this. Hanging around for many millions of years has got to teach you something! Last night, hidden behind the blind, as the last of the day’s light faded into shadow and I mentally put the finishing touches to this update, I heard the Sandhill’s preflight cacophony begin to erupt from across the field. Soon what was left of the horizon filled with the large remaining flock of grey, embedded with 12 white Whoopers heading off for the night’s roost at the slough. I guess some nights you just care more than others.