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Monday, 31 August 2015

toad in the hole


This has been a month of animal sightings and escapes. I had a bit of a tidy up around the polytunnel last week, plunging my hand into a very small pot to pull out a weed. My fingers curled around something squidgy and lo - there was a toad, covered in soil, nestling right inside the pot. Sadly it wasn't a frog so I didn't kiss it.

Two animals not sighted however, were Jack and Roxy, two dogs belonging to a friend of mine, who four hours before we were due to leave for Ireland decided to go on the run. But ah - the power of Facebook! At 8 o'clock - the time we had to depart for the ferry it had been reported on FB that they had been seen on a main road 5 miles away - that the traffic had stopped for them but no one could catch them. The dog warden had had reports but that was all. Anyway - to cut a long journey short we eventually found them in a vets an hour away in the opposite direction and at midnight picked them up. Lucky all of us.
 We missed the ferry by the way.

When we did finally arrive in Ireland we saw this beautiful sea eagle. So very rare to sight one these days so we were thrilled. A lot of sea eagles have been released on the east coasts of Scotland and Ireland from Norway. Most of them flew to the west coast (where we saw this one) because probably - Norway doesn't have an east coast.

Beezle and Pixie who didn't run away - on the road not taken

Beezle contemplating inside the yurt
As Beezle and TSEliot would say "Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go."
 You can't see it but the ducks have hidden a little suitcase behind the box ball. They thought they'd run away and go on holiday too.
Here's Pocket (quarter Bengal) looking a bit disgruntled as he'd just spent all afternoon with the shears on the box ball and their suitcase had put the whole thing out of shape.
Animals eh?

Toad dreams
That afternoon the dream of the toads rang through the elms by Little River and affected the thoughts of men, though they were not conscious that they heard it.--Henry Thoreau
The dream of toads: we rarely
credit what we consider lesser
life with emotions big as ours,
but we are easily distracted,
abstracted. People sit nibbling
before television's flicker watching
ghosts chase balls and each other
while the skunk is out risking grisly
death to cross the highway to mate;
while the fox scales the wire fence
where it knows the shotgun lurks
to taste the sweet blood of a hen.
Birds are greedy little bombs
bursting to give voice to appetite.
I had a cat who died of love.
Dogs trail their masters across con-
tinents. We are far too busy
to be starkly simple in passion.
We will never dream the intense
wet spring lust of the toads.




Sunday, 2 August 2015

the armchair anarchist



I was going to call this post Saving Private Lion but I wasn't going to humour myself to that extent. The reason I chose that title is that I have been signing petitions all week to save the lions. Also to save the orca whales, the fox, the dolphins and possibly armadillos now that I've read that a hunter was taken to hospital when the bullet he fired at an armadillo ricochet off his shell and hit the guy in the jaw. Ha! Karma n'est pas?

Here is a lion that wasn't saved. Well it was saved and stuffed. It resides in the most adorable museum in Saffron Walden and was an exhibit in Wombwell's Royal Menagerie which boasted "An Assemblage of lions" no less. Also a pair of noble panthers, two royal elephants and the Ravenous Wolf of the alps. Novelty unequalled indeed.

There is another animal I'm petitioning to save - the fox. Here is one also saved and stuffed in the museum. What I like about this place is that nowhere is there a notice saying Do Not Touch the Exhibits.

Here is a noble panther not stuffed. Pocket, the Ravenous Cat(quarter Bengal) of Wiltshire.
The thing about both the fox and the lion is that in England(the fox) and Africa(the lion) these beautiful animals are bred to hunt. Which is curious in the fox's case as we are told they are hunted as vermin and to keep the numbers down. I know for a fact that many of them are taken from their earths as young cubs, shut in a barn and fed until one by one they are let out on hunt day. In Africa they do the same with the lions only it is bigger business. First they breed the cubs and make a lot of money from tourists paying to cuddle them. Then when they are bigger, they let them out one by one to be hunted by a rich tourist with a crossbow or a gun. Then they are skinned and their head chopped off to be sold as "trophies". Then the bones are sold for grinding up into some chinese medicines. Quite an industry. So you can see now why Saving Private Lion was a little glib for my post title.

When I've not been campaigning to save things I've been sitting with the horses trying out The Trust Technique. This is a brilliant method and I encourage any of you who want a better connection with your animals to go on their website. Basically you stand by them and meditate, then usually they fall asleep. The photo of the guy who teaches the technique shows him sitting in a field surrounded by masses of sleeping horses all lying down. I have tried a few times with Harry and Trude but usually they just nudge me with that "When are you going to move the fence so we can get more grub?"look on their faces. I'll have to try it wearing pyjamas I guess so they get the message.


It is true, as a friend recently pointed out, that all the pictures of Beezle show him sleeping. I don't need to do the Trust Technique with him. But as he and Alexander the Great would say" I am not afraid of an army of lions led by a sheep; I am afraid of an army of sheep led by a lion."


The Jaguar


The apes yawn and adore their fleas in the sun.
The parrots shriek as if they were on fire, or strut
Like cheap tarts to attract the stroller with the nut.
Fatigued with indolence, tiger and lion

Lie still as the sun. The boa-constrictor’s coil
Is a fossil. Cage after cage seems empty, or
Stinks of sleepers from the breathing straw.
It might be painted on a nursery wall.

But who runs like the rest past these arrives
At a cage where the crowd stands, stares, mesmerized,
As a child at a dream, at a jaguar hurrying enraged
Through prison darkness after the drills of his eyes

On a short fierce fuse. Not in boredom –
The eye satisfied to be blind in fire,
By the bang of blood in the brain deaf of the ear –
He spins from the bars, but there’s no cage to him

More than to the visionary his cell:
His stride is wilderness of freedom:
The world rolls under the long thrust of his heel.
Over the cage floor the horizons come.




Ted Hughes