Beautiful fuzziness going strong
But not for long
They will not last
Please act fast
and sign the petition below:
The documentary, “The Ghost in Our Machine,” follows photographer, Jo-Anne McArthur as she takes pictures to show animal abuse on factory farms and how animals are helped by sanctuaries like Farm Sanctuary. It is a disturbing film but an extremely important one. We must rethink how we contribute to the cruelty inflicted upon dogs, cats, foxes, minks and farm animals. Please watch the trailer below. Jo-Anne McArthur has a book of her photographs and writings called, “We Animals.”
Warning video is very upsetting!! You don’t have to watch it but please sign the petition for Sunder to be taken out of his current torture chamber where he is being so cruelly treated and moved to safety!
Willow, a one day old baby Giraffe with its mother.
Picture credit: Ralph Daily
I had no intention of writing today, but coming upon this story and the petition that accompanied it, changed that in a heartbeat.
For as long as I can remember, the Giraffe has been the object of my affection and admiration.
There is something so regal, so fragile, so graceful, so endearing about them, how could you not love them.
In my lifetime, I have, with little shame, amassed a collection of Giraffes in every form, all manner of clothing, toys for my children and my dogs of course, stationary, Christmas cards, birthday cakes, Giraffes made of paper, wood, copper, bisque, brass, you name it, if it is a Giraffe anything, I have it.
In my defense, many of the above were gifts, as my love of this animal was well-known.
But apparently, not everyone loves or cherishes…
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It is a summer night, late in August. September and autumn are knocking at the door. The day was hot– the last gasp of a 3H summer day. And then, at night, come the thunderstorms. Downpours of rain hit hot asphalt and steam rises in the moonlit roads. The air cools down by 10, maybe 15 degrees.
We are going out to pick up a pizza for dinner and we hit the road in the middle of what must be called “Frog Frenzy.” Frogs are everywhere, every kind and every size. Hopping here and there. We drive in a hopscotch pattern to avoid running them over. We are hoping no one is watching our car stop and start and swerve left and right. The frogs look silvery in the headlights. Perhaps it is the last mating call of the season. Perhaps the frogs know something we don’t– perhaps this is the last warm day and thunderstorm of a dying summer.
There are long-legged frogs leaping across the road, teeny frogs skimming the asphalt, and giant frogs that cross the road in two to three jumps. Mating can be the only incentive for this frenzy of activity. Driven by desire, they are mating without concern for their welfare. More likely they are not aware of the danger that lurks in the road. Like all animals, we assume frogs live in the present moment, perhaps as we humans do in our twenties, driven by biology to seek a mate in a frantic orgy of activity.
My husband and I on our pizza run, which is no run but a crawl, are uplifted by this affirmation of life. We, who in our 20s, did not think we could die, are afraid of taking what would seem like even moderate risks now. We take delight in the frenetic frog activity as we get our pizza.
But it is a different landscape we drive through on the way home only a quarter of an hour later. The frogs are gone– completely vanished having hopped to wherever they were seeking to go. We only see some frogs who did not make it. A large truck pulled out from the road just as we turned in. Not the type to play hopscotch while driving.
We feel privileged to have witnessed this “Frog Frenzy,” this affirmation of life– this ten minute window of activity that shut down as abruptly as it opened. But the next morning, walking the road, we see mangled frogs everywhere. We can’t blame the one truck we saw for this massacre.
This is not an isolated incident. In the Summer 2008 Defenders, the Conservation Magazine of Defenders of Wildlife, a study by Purdue University is cited in which the number of road kill in a suburb of Indiana were counted over a 17 month period. The number was an astounding 10,500 dead animals and 95 percent of those were frogs and other amphibians. Many of the other amphibians were eastern tiger salamanders making their way to breeding grounds to lay 500 to 1,200 eggs. Obviously this could affect future populations. Sy Montgomery, in her “The Wild Out Your Window: Exploring Nature Near at Hand,” tells us that during the “salamander rains,” as she calls them, so many salamanders are killed by cars, that in Amherst they built special tunnels so the salamanders would be safe from the road, and in Lenox and Framingham they close the roads during the migration. Are a few towns in Massachusetts the only enlightened guardians of this amphibian ritual? Why are there not more precautions taken on our roads all across the country’s wetlands? Why aren’t the fading wetlands being preserved with the reverence they deserve as they serve earth?
We don’t know how long the “Frog Frenzy” lasted but, judging from the number of bodies in the road the next day, we caught only the tail end of it. The unlucky ones, who did not make it, lie in waiting for crows and other carrion-eating birds to come feast in this other, inevitable aspect of nature, the dead frog banquet. This time our hearts are heavy. We mourn the frogs who jumped so wildly to their death in their state of excitation. The “Night of the Frogs– just another sampling of man’s abject inhumanity to those he deems inferior, and, with whom he shares this mystery called “earth.”
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As twilight falls, as we approach August, the little sparks of light appear nightly– fireflies, lightning bugs, glow worms, whatever one chooses to call them. They start early in July– one sees a few sparks here and there but as July draws to a close, twilights dawn with a display of tiny fireworks. Why do they hold such fascination for young and old alike? Why do they bring us such a sense of wonder as they flicker on and off in some rhythm unknown to us but titillating in their communication with each other?
Of course I remember, like everyone else, catching fireflies. It was a ritual my Sicilian grandfather reenacted with me every summer. Grandma would save me a peanut butter jar, nicely washed with little holes in the top she made with an old-fashioned can opener. Grandpa and I would go out for an after-dinner walk, a treat in itself. It was an excursion with a purpose, a hunt to catch those bugs whose tail ends light up, on and off, I learned later, to signal mates.
Grandpa always managed to catch one and we would walk home victorious, with me clutching my precious jar with my favorite kind of bug residing within. There was the exciting story we would tell Grandma and she would give me a lettuce leaf in case the bug should be hungry in the night. Then to bed. And then the real waiting began– lying in the dark with the jar on the bedside table waiting for my captive bug to alight. I would wait and wait but no flickering light appeared and before long I would fall asleep in the arms of disappointment.
It was even worse in the morning. The lightning bug did not look well. His antennae would be damp and sticking to the jar in a bad way. He was not eating the lettuce leaf. And this was my first lesson in the perils of capturing and imprisoning a wild creature. They did not behave like they did when free. Finally in a child’s form of despair, I would let him go and he would leave so much the worse for wear. What is this human quest to capture animals for our own pleasure at their peril? Think zoos, circuses, the exotic pet trade. It is awe gone rancid, becoming greed, selfishness, a fetid form of supremacy.
Years later, on my husband’s great aunt’s farm in Ohio, the trees would be filled with lightning bugs mating. It was a sight I had never seen. Whole trees would light up at once and upon close examination one would find hundreds of fireflies. It was a cathedral of flickering lights that inspired reverence for God as we beheld the mystery with our hearts.
And now, living in a converted barn which allows many bugs to enter despite window screens, I no longer want to capture fireflies and put them in a jar. I am happy to see them fly freely inside and outside the house. They bring sheer delight as they light up in the darkness. I am a child again with my grandfather, as I stay awake as long as possible, watching the little flickering lights inside the room and outside in the trees. I think of simpler days and after dinner walks with Grandpa. I think a lot of my grandparents with nostalgia, and the magic of this tiny bug amazes still. But wild creatures belong in the wild. A lesson to be learned from this Midsummer Night’s dream.