Dinner Time

Human life can, at times, seem chaffingly structured. We rise at the same time every day and make little daily migrations to the same building; come home and make dinner at 7, an act that’s so regular we hear the same program on the radio while we’re doing it, and the people on the radio make references to us making dinner because we’re so predictable that they know exactly what we’re doing.

The cats know we make dinner at 7, too, which means they get dinner at 7, which means they get under our feet and beg for food even if they have food in their dishes just because it’s habit. When my cats do this I feel guilty that we’ve domesticated this wild species and turned them into such little humans, as surely wild animals aren’t encumbered by strict meal times. The wild set sleeps when they’re tired, eats when they’re hungry, lives life on their terms.

Then a few weeks back I collected a game camera that I had set up over a log at the edge of a swamp, and noticed that in three out of the four days it was out there, it captured an image of a mink. Each day contained only one mink picture. Each day the mink was going north to south while carrying food in its mouth (an anuran and two rodents, respectively). The date was not properly set up on the camera, but it was keeping time and indicated that all three pictures were taken within 40 minutes of each other, right around 7 o’clock in the evening. It all seemed suspiciously like dinner time – so regular you could set a radio program to it.

Coincidence? Maybe.  But it has us reexamining our theories.

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