What disgusts me at first frequently reveals a ripening, hidden beauty. Often, I’m startled less by a revolting object than my growing appreciation of it.
A few days ago I found a raccoon carcass on a utility right-of-way paralleling the Farmington River not far from home. No road kill, it was neither flattened nor desiccated on pavement. All that remained was the vertebral column and a blood reddened ribcage connecting a battered head and mangy tail. So worn was the ringed tail, that the most eager Davey Crocket wannabe wouldn’t pin it to his hat, and no self respecting teenager would tie it to a car antenna.
I thought of the other animals—perhaps coyote, fox, crow, and turkey vulture among them—who had made pretty clean work of the dead animal’s substance. Sustained on the muscle and sinew of this corpse, I might encounter these creatures at any moment and feel gratitude at their presence. I was suddenly struck by something appealing and even lovely in this ragged remnant of a life with its intricate details of bones and other parts usually unseen. The body said less about one dead mammal than it did about surging nature in nearby woods and thickets.
I guess beauty isn’t necessarily pretty. We seekers of things beautiful miss much if we’re too squeamish.