Warning: This post contains graphic discussions of animal cruelty.
This past weekend I vended at the Shrewsbury Renaissance Faire in Kings Valley, OR. It’s one of the most established faires in the Portland area, having been started in 1995, and after I missed last year I was eager to make it back this year. The faire is currently held in a big grass field south of Dallas, OR; the field had been mowed so the grass could be sold as hay, and so all that was left was a bit of dry stubble in the dust. This made it easier for people to walk around–and it also made for excellent vole-watching. The entire field, in fact, is pockmarked by the burrows of voles (probably creeping voles, Microtus oregoni), and we spent the weekend watching on particularly bold little critter popping out of her burrow and wandering the field around our booth and others. She even burrowed around underneath our air mattress at night, as evidences by the trails in the grass and dust underneath–a very determined little vole indeed! (I took the opportunity to subject my partner to several truly terrible vole puns throughout the weekend. Vole-tron. Vole-demort.)
Shrewsbury is quite family-friendly, and there were plenty of kids running around throughout the weekend. Several of the surrounding booths had children who would pass by our booth with some frequency. At one point late in the day on Saturday, one boy near my booth happened to mention to me “I’m going to squash a vole”. I stopped, not sure if I’d heard correctly. “What did you say?” I asked. “I’m going to squash a vole,” he repeated. He couldn’t have been more than about eleven or so, and he pointed at the burrow near the front of our booth where we’d been watching our vole neighbor all day.
I gave him a stern look and said “Don’t you dare. There’s no reason to kill an animal just because it’s there, and this is from someone who’s selling art made from animal hides.” The boy looked chastised and retreated back over to his own booth. I retreated as well; it was a reminder that people, children included, too often see the killing of another life as something to be taken lightly.