I’ve started several different posts this week. One is about helping dogs feel secure in new surroundings, one about teaching frustration tolerance and problem solving, one about the power of being positive. However, I just can’t seem to finish them. After last week’s brouhaha over my review of the Monks’ new book, I find my mind swirling with things I want to say, but none crystallized well enough to send them out into the universe.
The good thing about being almost 69 is that you finally start listening to yourself. If I’m not ready to finish the articles, then, well, I won’t. What I will do is look to the animals for peace and wisdom, from the ones who live in our homes, to the wild ones whose lives we affect every day by our actions (or lack of).
“We need another and a wiser and perhaps a more mystical concept of animals. Remote from universal nature and living by complicated artifice, man in civilization surveys the creature through the glass of his knowledge and sees thereby a feather magnified and the whole image in distortion. We patronize them for their incompleteness, for their tragic fate for having taken form so far below ourselves. And therein do we err. For the animal shall not be measured by man. In a world older and more complete than ours, they move finished and complete, gifted with the extension of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear. They are not brethren, they are not underlings: they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendour and travail of the earth.”
For twenty five years, I ended the university class I taught (The Biology and Philosophy of Human/Animal Relationships) by reading this paragraph. Reading it makes my heart swell, even though I practically have it memorized. Here are the last lines again. Read them again and again and again.
“They are not brethren, they are not underlings: they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendour and travail of the earth.”
What an eloquent way to remind us of our proper place in the world, and of the responsibility imposed by our unique combination of power, weakness and vulnerability. Another wonderful source of inspiration about animal life is the Facebook page of Frans de Waal, a friend and colleague who eloquently advocates for giving animals the respect that they deserve.
And you? Favorite quotes about animals and our relationship with them? Resources that celebrate animals with respect and insight? I look forward to hearing from you. (And am sending out gratitude to all who wrote supportive comments in the last few weeks. I am so grateful.)
MEANWHILE, back on the farm: Ah, lovely cool, fall weather. It’s especially welcome after an unseasonably hot and humid week. (Does the concept of “unseasonal” mean anything anymore?) Many of us love fall as much as any other season, no doubt in part because of the bittersweet knowledge that the Great, Long, Black, Brown and White Season is coming soon. It’s color that I miss as much as anything in winter–that and the light. So I’m soaking it up now.
I’m also loving that we live a few miles away from a gathering place for Sandhill Cranes who are busy feeding up for their fall migration. They spend the summer here mated up in pairs, raising their young, and then meet up in autumn to feed and ready themselves for the flight down south. Here are a few that we got to enjoy this weekend. Such gorgeous birds!
I’ve always been a lover of mammals and birds, but this summer I seem to have fallen in love with amphibians. Besides the tree frogs I’ve written about, I finally got a photo of Teresa the Toad. Sometimes she disappears for days and I worry that she’s met an untimely end, but then she’ll show up. This weekend she surprised me by tucking herself into a volunteer petunia that grew between the cracks of our front steps. (Along with the world’s worst weed, chickweed. Sigh.)
Best of all is that Maggie is now back to full power, and is allowed to work sheep again. Willie might not be pleased that he has to share sheep chores with Maggie, but no doubt he’s happy that they can play tug again.
Tootsie only has one thing to say: “I thought the cat wasn’t allowed in the house?”