I do not have one. But if I did, visiting Mfuwe Lodge would be on it. I love how the elephants are all like, hey, don’t mind us, we’re just here for the mangoes. Glorious.
A poem that says it all.
To a Mouse
On Turning up in Her Nest with the Plough, November, 1785Wee, sleeket, cowran, tim’rous beastie,O, what a panic’s in thy breastie!Thou need na start awa sae hasty,Wi’ bickerin brattle!I wad be laith to rin an’ chase theeWi’ murd’ring pattle!
I’m truly sorry Man’s dominionHas broken Nature’s social union,An’ justifies that ill opinion,Which makes thee startle,At me, thy poor, earth-born companion,An’ fellow-mortal!
I doubt na, whyles, but thou may thieve;What then? poor beastie, thou maun live!A daimen-icker in a thrave’S a sma’ request:I’ll get a blessin wi’ the lave,An’ never miss ’t!
Thy wee-bit housie, too, in ruin!It’s silly wa’s the win’s are strewin!An’ naething, now, to big a new ane,O’ foggage green!An’ bleak December’s winds ensuin,Baith snell an’ keen!
Thou saw the fields laid bare an’ waste,An’ weary Winter comin fast,An’ cozie here, beneath the blast,Thou thought to dwell,Till crash! the cruel coulter pastOut thro’ thy cell.
That wee-bit heap o’ leaves an’ stibbleHas cost thee monie a weary nibble!Now thou’s turn’d out, for a’ thy trouble,But house or hald,To thole the Winter’s sleety dribble,An’ cranreuch cauld!
But Mousie, thou art no thy-lane,In proving foresight may be vain:The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ MenGang aft agley,An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,For promis’d joy!
Still, thou art blest, compar’d wi’ me!The present only toucheth thee:But Och! I backward cast my e’e,On prospects drear!An’ forward tho’ I canna see,I guess an’ fear!
Here’s a fine feral fellow I met in Italy, in April. He did not appreciate my attempts to capture his undeniable beauty, but somehow, I managed.
As regular readers know, my mother died last year. Most of her ashes were scattered in 2014, but for various reasons there were some left to scatter still. So last week that deed was done, and it turned into quite a lovely nature walk.
First, we met a super polite groundhog who held up his little paw when he coughed/burped.
Then we saw this lovely guy…
…who apparently had something to say.
And that something was “Kiss my backside, humans.”
And then we met a skittish bunny.
But he wasn’t so skittish that he couldn’t also manage a loud and clear message, similar to the duck’s.
Mum would most definitely approve.
I could rant forever about animals and how we treat them, but I just want to say a few words about the “but brigade” where the cruel slaughter of Cecil the Lion is concerned. The “but brigade” are the people who say, “But what about Syria? You care more about a lion than ISIS? et cetera.
Guess what? I can be upset and outraged about two things at once! More than two things, even. It is not en either/or. We’re all in this together, animals and the human animal. And isn’t empathy for others, including other species, the sign of an evolved society? Isn’t an understanding that murder for sport (and cruelty for sport, when you think of how Cecil suffered for 40 hours) is despicable, the sign of an evolved society?
I’m also quite dubious about the argument that trophy hunters pump so much money into the economies of these poor countries and they actually help conservation. Maybe if the money wasn’t being pilfered by the nightmarish political and tribal leaders in so many African countries, and maybe if they actually produced and sold stuff, then they wouldn’t need to rely on sickos who pay exorbitant sums to murder animals to feed their economy. Admitting that they “need” creeps like the Minnesota dentist and others to engage in barbarism for them seems an admission of failure on their part.
Finally, I am tired of people saying “what about all the other animals killed? Don’t you care about them?” Uh, yes, I do. But I am glad this one is getting some attention from people who usually wouldn’t give a hoot. But of course, humans being as sucky as they are, the first time the world comes together to support an animal, people have to find ways to try and take that support away. This is a chance to have a meaningful conversation — trite as it might sound — about trophy-hunting and cynics have to try and ruin it by saying, “But don’t you care about ISIS?” Sheesh! Of course I do.
To me, it’s about moral values. If you believe they are absolute, which I do, then hunting is repugnant. There is a philosophical basis for according animals the same rights as people, and we should all hope it becomes the norm.
A note about vigilantism: I am disgusted by it. As much as I hate what Walter Palmer did, I’d like to see him dealt with through the law and the free market. And it bothers me that people are threatening physical violence on him. I hope it’s just a lot of puffery because truly, that would not only be wrong, it would not be helpful to the cause of animals.
Now, some links for you: regarding this nonsense asserted about how people who pay to trophy-hunt are actually helping animals, a good piece from the New Yorker.
Regarding aid to Africa more generally and how it goes to the wrong places/people, read African economist Dambisa Moyo’s book on the matter.
Regarding the “but brigade” in another circumstance, read my Charlie Hebdo piece from January of this year.
Finally, I’d like to end this post with a great quote from Isaac Bashevis Singer, who, when asked if he thought the life of an animal was worth the same as the life of a human being, said, “I see no evidence to the contrary.”
Amen to that.
I was thinking about pigeons and it brought to mind this great quote from a book I read a few years back. The book is Masks in a Pageant — and I highly recommend it — by the great American journalist William Allen White. The quote follows:
The thrush, the oriole, the bird of paradise, are esteemed by society, while the unlovely hell-diver is despised. Nature has no favorites. All her creatures are equally beloved; in God’s kingdom all the subjects are of royal blood. The earthworm is as useful as the lion; the amoeba has full fellowship with man.
…as much as these little gaffers (red pandas at the Cincinnati Zoo) do!