Category: Art

Living on.

They will always live on in our hearts and minds.

I follow the blog belas bright ideas.

Recently, she posted a beautiful poem to commemorate the nine years of having Susami in their lives. It is republished here with Bela’s kind permission.

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There is a presence, here
and now; the bellows of breath,
warmth of blood, the feeling,
even if imagined,
that we are connected, one
to the other.

We each have our memories,
after all.

Your passing removes that utterly,
and somehow the same hand
lying on the same fur and flesh
will sense void, not even spirit,
not even that.

One can forgive the athiest,
or even theist their doubts,
props, religions. For this
at least is real:
This. Here. Now.
Tomorrow it will be gone.

And no matter in visions I linger
in the numinous; despite
in the garden I witness the alchemy
of decay transforming
into green and vibrant,
the loss of a loving companion
is egregious, indeed.

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Bela explained how Susami came to them:

This sweet being has been with us only nine years, since she was about 10-12 weeks old. Her previous steward, a multiply-pierced and -tattooed young woman, had to find a home for her. We were on our way to the east coast to deal with some business, and I had taken our good friend Kevin with me to the local feed store to get the horse stocked up on alfalfa pellets (it was during a long drought). I saw the pup with a bandage on her leg before, and asked the gal what was wrong with her. I later learned from the store owner (who thanked me many, many times for giving Susami a good home) that the dog had been severely abused. (She never did tell me specifics, so I was left to wonder.) The young woman tried her best, but there were forces beyond her control in her environment. When I saw Susami again, we had to take her, but how? I asked Kev if he would watch yet one more animal for us while we were gone, and he happily agreed! So she joined our chocolate Lab who we brought with us to Hawaii from northern Maine (a Non-rescue). He was Thrilled to have that little creature’s companionship.

Going to close with the exquisite words from Suzanne Clothier that Dr. Jim Goodbrod used in the foreword to my book:

There is a cycle of love and death that shapes the lives of those who choose to travel in the company of animals. It is a cycle unlike any other. To those who have never lived through its turnings or walked its rocky path, our willingness to give our hearts with full knowledge that they will be broken seems incomprehensible. Only we know how small a price we pay for what we receive. Our grief, no matter how powerful it may be, is an insufficient measure of the joy we have been given.

(Suzanne Clothier: Bones Would Rain from the Sky: Deepening Our Relationships with Dogs.)

Suzanne’s words cannot be bettered when it comes to the death of a beloved dog.

Susami, you will not be forgotten.

Rogue Valley TV

Huge thank you to Producer John Letz and the whole crew.

A week ago last Saturday Jean and I travelled down to Ashland and to the studios of Rogue Valley Community Television (RVTV). This is how RVTV describe themselves:

Based at the Southern Oregon Digital Media Center, RVTV provides access television and streaming media services for the citizens and local governments of Jackson and Josephine Counties. Please visit rvtv.sou.edu for more information.

John Letz, the Producer for Adventures in Education and Ramping Up your English, had read my book and thought it might make a good programme.

I’m both delighted and flattered to say that the programme is now available and published under a Commons Creative Licence. Here it is!

Friday fondness

A rather personal posting for today.

My dear, sweet wife is struggling with a personal issue that I am not going to share with you dear readers; for obvious reasons. The issue is not to do with our relationship, not at all, but part of the journey of getting a little older day by day.

Yesterday morning, sitting up in bed after breakfast, accompanied by many of our dogs fast asleep around us, Jean had a bit of a weepy session. Today Jean and I are off to see a medical consultant to ascertain the nature of the issue. Not going to say any more than that.

So back to yesterday morning, me reflecting on Jean’s tears, and me musing about what to write for today’s post. There in my email inbox was an item in the latest Big Think newsletter that was perfect. It was called The Science behind Maintaining a Happy Long-Term Relationship and it was by Dr. Helen Fisher, senior research fellow at the Kinsey Institute.

Here is how that article by Dr. Fisher opens:

Plenty of people are pessimistic about the state of relationships in society. Dr. Helen Fisher, senior research fellow at the Kinsey Institute, isn’t one of them. She sees trends like extended periods of cohabitation before marriage and a persistent fear of divorce not only as interrelated, but also signs of a healthy change in attitude toward love. While marriage was once the start of a long-term relationship, she says, today it’s the finale. And that’s a good way to cope with a brain whose primitive regions are driven intensely toward short-term relationships. Dr. Fisher also explains how to maintain novelty, the fuel of romantic love, and how to be aware of the brain regions that affect satisfaction in a relationship.

Now I don’t have permission to republish the full transcript but I see that the video, that was included in the Big Think article, is on YouTube.

I count myself incredibly lucky to have met Jean back in December, 2007 and that out of that meeting came a loving relationship that is more beautiful than words. Well more beautiful than my words so I will let E. E. Cummings say it how it should be said.

love is more thicker than forget
more thinner than recall
more seldom than a wave is wet
more frequent than to fail
it is most mad and moonly
and less it shall unbe
than all the sea which only
is deeper than the sea
love is less always than to win
less never than alive
less bigger than the least begin
less littler than forgive
it is most sane and sunly
and more it cannot die
than all the sky which only
is higher than the sky
Share this text …?

E.E. Cummings, “[love is more thicker than forget]” from Complete Poems 1904-1962, edited by George J. Firmage. Copyright 1926, 1954, 1991 by the Trustees for the E.E. Cummings Trust. Copyright © 1985 by George James Firmage. Reprinted with the permission of Liveright Publishing Corporation.

Source: Poetry (January 1939). (Taken from here)

That is my love for Jean.

Charles Bergman

The way we can reach out to others in these modern times.

A fellow local author, Constance Frankland, who has been mentioned previously here on Learning from Dogs followed up last Sunday’s Picture Parade with a comment on my Facebook page:

You might enjoy the site of Dr. Charles Bergman. I was privileged to take writing classes from him when his features were just breaking into Audubon and National Geographic. He was researching the thought-to-be-extinct Trumpeter Swan when survivors were found. (“Wild Echoes: Encounters With the Most Endangered Animals”) http://www.charlesbergman.com/

It was then the matter of a moment to hop across to that website address and read this on the home page:

Charles Bergman

A writer, photographer and speaker who lives in the beautiful Pacific Northwest and is a prof at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Washington.
He’s twice been a Fulbright Scholar in Latin America–Mexico and Ecuador–traveled extensively around the world, especially in Latin America from Mexico to Tierra del Fuego. He writes and publishes extensively on animals, nature, and sustainability–with many cover stories in such magazines as Smithsonian, Audubon, All Animals (Humane Society),, Defenders, and many more.  His photographs accompany his articles. He has written three books, and has won the Washington State Book Award, Southwest Book Award, and the Benjamin Franklin Book Award. He was a finalist for the PEN USA Literary Award.
He loves animals and wildlife of all kinds, and has developed a new-found love for Antarctica and Africa.

His home page includes this photograph:

Abbotti Cockatoo–Indonesia

Cockatoo--Abbotti--Nest 4 Display 4-MThere seemed to be many interesting articles & essays on his site and despite the fact that Mr. Bergman is currently in Uganda, his reply to my request for permission to republish some of his posts came through promptly:

Greetings from Uganda!  I’m here working in the Uganda Wildlife Education Center, back shortly.  Yes, you may certainly republish my materials.  I’ll be very interested to follow the process.

Warmly,

Charles Bergman

You can count on me picking out some of Professor Bergman’s writings to share with you soon.

This reaching to others, friends and strangers, is a wonderful aspect of present times.

Role model extraordinare!

In salute of Sir David Attenborough.

Yesterday, a wonderful number of readers ‘Liked’ my set of photographs on the theme of being a wildlife photographer. Thus it was providential, when deliberating on what to write for today’s post, to see that George Monbiot had published an article covering his recent interview with Sir David.

Before republishing that interview, let’s take a look at the man; Sir David that is!

Wikipedia has a comprehensive and fulsome description of him, that opens, thus:

Sir David Frederick Attenborough/ˈætənbʌrə/OMCHCVOCBEFRSFLSFZSFSAKt (born 8 May 1926)[2][3] is an English broadcaster and naturalist.

He is best known for writing and presenting the nine Life series, in conjunction with the BBC Natural History Unit, which collectively form a comprehensive survey of animal and plant life on the planet. He is also a former senior manager at the BBC, having served as controller of BBC Two and director of programming for BBC Television in the 1960s and 1970s. He is the only person to have won BAFTAs for programmes in each of black and white, colour, HD, and 3D.

Attenborough is widely considered a national treasure in Britain, although he himself does not like the term.[4][5][6] In 2002 he was named among the 100 Greatest Britons following a UK-wide vote.[7] He is the younger brother of director, producer and actor Richard Attenborough.[8]

Then I want you to view this short video:

Published on May 2, 2014

From across YouTube, Twitter and Facebook, we’ve taken your comments during #AttenboroughWeek and made this video as a thank you to everyone who got involved. Click on the annotations to see each of the clips in full.

Now on to the George Monbiot interview, republished here with Mr. Monbiot’s kind and generous permission.

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Rare Specimen

If you need a reminder of how beautiful our planet is (and I’m sure the majority of LfD readers don’t require that reminder) then go back and watch David Attenborough’s video and voice-over to the song  What a Wonderful World. This short but very compelling video shows why the planet is so worth protecting. Enjoy!

So make a diary note to celebrate Sir David’s 90th birthday on May 8th.

Picture Parade One Hundred and Thirty-two

Why Being a Wildlife Photographer Is the Best Job in the World

These photographs were originally sent to me by Marg from Tasmania and they are just wonderful. Upon querying with Marg where they originally came from she found the source on a blog site called deMilked. That site explained:

You have to really love animals to go into nature photography. After all, it requires more patience to catch some deer in your lens than to photograph a mountain. Mountains don’t run away! Some animals don’t run either. In fact, some of them are really curious and come closer to check out the photographer. Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? Apparently, foxes and squirrels.

So here is the first batch of these gorgeous photographs.

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More to share with you over the next two Sundays.

Thanks Marg!