Note: I am saying chipmunk but I’m not clear if this is a squirrel or a chipmunk.
This seed for me is about questioning our desire and need as humans to “capture” nature in photos, audio, and video and/or our sense of entitlement to take these momentos without understanding our intention. We assume that when we take photos like this one that we are really not taking anything away, there is an ethical question that comes up for me around whether we have indeed disturbed and disrupted natural environments and their habitants. In this case, this chipmunk was enjoying its lunch, and when my camera shutter sound went off, I startled the chipmunk and its lunch fell all the way down to the forest floor at the foot of this giant tree. The chipmunk then had to scurry down to find it.
There is a sense of human supremacy that came over me when I witnessed this. What compelled me to essentially stalk this animal in its natural habitat for a photo? What was my purpose and reason for this? What are the rights of the animal? What am I giving back, if anything? Is this “sharing” reciprocal? Am I simply being extractive?
My compelling moment is from the age of 5 with my late grandmother who got very angry at me for watering a plant at night. She got upset and said, “the plants are sleeping, how would you feel if I disturbed you and woke you up while you were sleeping? Be respectful”. She was an animal rights advocate and a rigid vegetarian. Her care for animals and nature have deeply impacted me, and when I had my terrible feeling after the chipmunk dropped its lunch, I felt her presence and was reminded of her lesson.