I included a photo of Socks and wished him the very best of luck in finding a home.
Well, miracles of miracles, when I came to my emails last Saturday morning awaiting me was this email from John Zande.
Paul and Jean, Socks has a wonderful new home!
I really don’t want to jinx it by writing this email (I am the superstitious naked ape, after all), but the morning started out with not much hope as we drove and drove out into the countryside, wondering where on earth this petshop was that was hosting the adoption fair.
When we eventually found it, it was a tiny storefront, little more than a dog-bath business. We thought, “nothing is going to come from this.” They were just opening as we arrived and met the young girl who runs it. Lovely person. Literally two minutes later a family walk up the road dropping off their two dogs for a bath. We got to talking. They fell in love with Socks.
After a phone call to the woman’s husband (a serious, serious dog lover, we’re told, as she is too) we heard the words we did not think we’d hear: “If it’s OK, we’d love to give him a home.”
Ten minutes later we were in their house, which was about 50 meters down the road. Nice place, lots of room, and Socks has full run of the outside, and a huge enclosed laundry-come-Socks-home for the night. He won the lotto! Three young boys full of energy. He took to them like a champion. I still can’t believe it. It’s like this every time we find a home. It just doesn’t seem real.
Anyway, I’ve attached two short videos of Socks and his new home, and a photo. And yes, the family is keeping Jean’s name, Socks. They loved it. I’m sure G will write you later tonight, but you both played a huge role in this. Your help paid for his neutering, and for that we’re eternally grateful.
Here is that photo and those videos.
A little later on ‘G’, John’s nickname for his wife, sent me these further details:
Hello Paul and Jean – I guess you’ve been cheering since John’s e-mail, right? So have we, since this morning.
Well, I have to say I still can’t believe how lucky we (and Socks) have been. Virginia and Fabiano and their three boys: Lago (11 or 12 y.o, not sure); Marcos (turning 8 tomorrow, Sunday) and Raphael, 6. Lovely family, she invited us to go to their place (he was working), showed us around.
As I said at the outset: It doesn’t get more beautiful than this!
It is very hard to avoid hyperbole when one speaks of global warming.
I am indebted to The Nation magazine, May 8/15 Issue, in which is included a feature article authored by Bill McKibben. My sub-heading is much of what Bill wrote in his first line.
It is hard to avoid hyperbole when you talk about global warming. It is, after all, the biggest thing humans have ever done, and by a very large margin.
A few sentences later, Bill offers this:
In the drought-stricken territories around the Sahara, we’ve helped kick off what The New York Times called “one of the biggest humanitarian disasters since World War II.” We’ve melted ice at the poles at a record pace, because our emissions trap extra heat from the sun that’s equivalent to 400,000 Hiroshima-size explosions a day.
Yet what scares me, scares me beyond comprehension, is the almost universal disregard being shown by Governments and those with power and influence right across the world to what in anyone’s language is the most pressing catastrophe heading down the tracks. Not next year; not tomorrow, but now!
Or in Mr. McKibben’s words, once more from that Nation article:
But as scientists have finally begun to realize, there’s nothing rational about the world we currently inhabit. We’re not having an argument about climate change, to be swayed by more studies and journal articles and symposia. That argument is long since won, but the fight is mostly lost—the fight about the money and power that’s kept us from taking action and that is now being used to shut down large parts of the scientific enterprise. As Trump budget chief Mick Mulvaney said in March, “We’re not spending money on that anymore. We consider that to be a waste of your money to go out and do that.” In a case this extreme, scientists have little choice but to be citizens as well. And given their credibility, it will matter: 76 percent of Americans trust scientists to act in the public interest, compared with 27 percent who think the same thing about elected officials.
Whatever your response is to what I have already presented, the one thing that I do know is that you have been aware of humanity’s effect on our atmosphere for many, many years. Indeed, Bill McKibben wrote his first book twenty-eight years ago!
His 1989 book The End of Nature is regarded as the first book for a general audience about climate change, and has appeared in 24 languages; he’s gone on to write a dozen more books.
But I would be the first to acknowledge that back in 1989 while I did become aware of Bill McKibben and did purchase and read that book of his, I didn’t see the effects he prophesied. In addition, I didn’t understand the mechanisms that would bring those effects into place.
Now, today, it’s very difficult to deny that global weather systems are behaving in ways that most do not understand albeit we do understand how those weather changes are affecting our lives.
One person who did, and still does even more, understand the physics involved in our changing weather, is Patrice Ayme. For some nineteen years after Bill McKibben’s first book, Patrice published a post on his blog. I have been following Patrice’s blog for some years and while I would be the first to stick my hand in the air and declare that some of his posts are a little beyond me, there’s no question of the integrity of his writings and his bravery in spelling out the truth of these present times. (OK, the truth a la Monsieur Aymes but I would place a decent bet of PA being closer to the core truth of many issues than Joe Public.)
I am indebted to Patrice for granting me permission to republish that post. Please read it. Don’t be put off by terms that may not be familiar to you. Read it to the end – the message is very clear.
Applying Equipartition Of Energy To Climate Change PREDICTS WILD WEATHER.
By Patrice Ayme, March 8th, 2008.
Lately, the world weather has been especially perplexing, influenced by the cold ocean temperatures of a La Niña current in the equatorial Pacific. For Earth’s land areas, 2007 was the warmest year on record.
This year, record cold is more the norm. Global land-surface temperatures so far are below the 20th-century mean for the first time since 1982, according to the National Climatic Data Center. Last month in China, snowstorms stranded millions of people, while in Mumbai, officials reported the coldest day in 46 years.
Yet, England basked in its fourth-warmest January since 1914, the British Met Office reported. The crocus and narcissus at the U.K.’s Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew flowered a week earlier than last year — 11 days ahead of their average for the decade and weeks ahead of their pattern in the 1980s. In Prague, New Year’s Day was the warmest since 1775.
“It is difficult to judge the significance of what we are seeing this year,” said Kew researcher Sandra Bell. “Is it a glitch or is it the beginning of something more sinister and alarming?”” (Robert Lee Hotz, Wall Street Journal, March 8, 2008).
Many scientists have pondered this question, as if they did not know the answer, but it is a straightforward application of thermodynamics.
A basic theorem of equilibrium thermodynamics, the EQUIPARTITION OF ENERGY theorem, says that the same amount of energy should be present in all degrees of freedom into which energy can spill.
(How does one demonstrate this theorem? Basically, heat is agitation, kinetic energy at the scale of atoms and molecules. This agitation can spill in a more organized manner, in great ensembles, such as vast low and high pressure systems, or large scale dynamics. See the note on entropy and negative temperatures.)
In the case of meteorology, this implies, oversimplifying a bit, that only one-third of the energy should go into heat (and everybody focuses on the augmentation of temperature). Now, of course, since the energy enters the system as heat, non equilibrium thermodynamics imposes more than one-third of the energy will be heat.
As time goes by, though, the other two degrees of freedom, potential energy (represented as the geometry of gradients of pressures, high and low pressure systems, hurricanes) and dynamics (wind speed and vast movements of air masses of varying temperatures and/or pressure; and the same for sea currents) will also store energy.
Thus the new heat created in the lower atmosphere by the increased CO2 greenhouse will be transformed in all sorts of weather weirdness: heat, cold, high and low pressures, wind, and big moves of big things. Big things such as vast re-arrangements of low and high pressure systems, as observed in the Northern Hemisphere, or the re-arrangement of sea currents as apparently also observed, and certainly as it is expected. Since it happened in the past (flash ice age of the Younger Dryas over Europe, 18,000 years ago).
As cold and warm air masses get thrown about, the variability of temperatures will augment all over.
In other words, record snow and cold in the Alps and record warmth simultaneously in England is a manifestation of the equipartition of energy theorem applied to the greenhouse warming we are experiencing. It is not mysterious at all, and brutal variations such as these, including sudden cold episodes, are to be expected, as more and more energy gets stuffed in the planetary climate, and yanks it away from its previous equilibrium.
Wind speed augmentations have already had a spectacular effect: by shaking the waters of the Austral ocean with increasingly violent waves, carbon dioxyde is being removed as if out of a shaken carbonated drink. Thus the Austral ocean is now a net emitter of CO2 (other oceans absorb CO2, and transform it into carbonic acid).
Hence the observed variations are the beginning of something more sinister and alarming. Climate change is changing speed. Up, up, and away.
Note on entropy: Some may object that transforming heat into collective behavior of vast masses of air or sea violates the Second Law Of Thermodynamics, namely that entropy augments always, in any natural process. Well, first of all, the genius of the genus Homo, not to say of all of life itself, rests on local violations of the Second Law. Secondly, the most recent physics recognizes that fundamental considerations allow systems where increased energy lead to increased order (such a system is said to be in a negative temperature state).
Even more revealingly, a massive greenhouse on planet Earth would lead, as happened in the past, to a much more uniform heat, all around the planet, that is, a more ordered state. Meanwhile, the transition to the present order of a temperate climate to the completely different order of an over-heated Earth will bring complete disorder, as observed.
Going to leave you with a picture taken from weather.com
Please, please, please: make a difference! Environmentally, domestically and politically, please make a difference.
Glenn Greenwald Unveils New Project to Build Animal Shelter in Brazil Staffed by Homeless People
Published on May 10, 2017
http://democracynow.org – Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Glenn Greenwald unveils his plans to build an animal shelter in Brazil with his husband David Miranda, a city council member in Rio de Janeiro. The shelter will be staffed by homeless people who live on the streets with abandoned pets.
If you, like me, needed to be reminded as to Mr. Greenwald’s background there’s plenty online.
Glenn Greenwald is one of three co-founding editors of The Intercept. He is a journalist, constitutional lawyer, and author of four New York Times best-selling books on politics and law. His most recent book, No Place to Hide, is about the U.S. surveillance state and his experiences reporting on the Snowden documents around the world. Prior to co-founding The Intercept, Glenn’s column was featured at The Guardian and Salon. He was the debut winner, along with Amy Goodman, of the Park Center I.F. Stone Award for Independent Journalism in 2008, and also received the 2010 Online Journalism Award for his investigative work on the abusive detention conditions of Chelsea Manning. For his 2013 NSA reporting, he received the George Polk award for National Security Reporting; the Gannett Foundation award for investigative journalism and the Gannett Foundation watchdog journalism award; the Esso Premio for Excellence in Investigative Reporting in Brazil (he was the first non-Brazilian to win), and the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Pioneer Award. Along with Laura Poitras, Foreign Policy magazine named him one of the top 100 Global Thinkers for 2013. The NSA reporting he led for The Guardian was awarded the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for public service.
That post in April also included a picture of a recent stray supported by the Fund. He was named Socks by Jean.
Anyway, a few days ago Dionete sent me an email that I wanted to share with you.
Hello Paul – how’s things with you & Jean & dogs? Fine, I hope.
We’ve got some news: Socks has just been neutered. We picked him up at the clinic an hour ago and took him to a temporary shelter. Unfortunately it is just for a couple of nights but at least he is safe and can recover from the grogginess tonight.
Here are the pics we’ve taken.
Thank you very much (again) for allowing it to happen.
All the very best,
Here are those photographs of Socks.
Socks has a really gentle look in those eyes. Hopefully, he will find a new loving home before too long.
Recently Jean was sent a link to an item on Mother Nature Network by Trish, a close friend living down in Tucson, AZ. It shows the strength of character of one particular dog but easily serves as a reminder of the power of love, commitment, endurance and loyalty that thousands of dogs exhibit so many times. Qualities that we humans may so easily overlook because our dogs fit so comfortably into the relationship with us.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated since it was originally published in November 2014.
The article is also presented with the enclosed video at the end of the text. But when Jean and I watched the video last night we were so taken by it that I am making an ‘executive’ decision to present the article slightly differently.
In that I think that watching this beautiful, incredible, video first is better.
The Adventure Racing World Series might be the most fraught and challenging sports event in the world. It usually involves teams of four navigating through a vast wilderness terrain while utilizing adventure skills from a range of disciplines including trekking, adventure running, mountain biking, paddling and climbing.
During the 2014 competition, for the first time ever, an exception was made so that one team could finish the race with five members instead of four. That fifth member? A stray dog, named Arthur by his adopted companions, who decided to follow one team for 430 harrowing miles through the Amazon jungle, according to the Daily Mail. If this story doesn’t warm your heart, you don’t have one.
Team Peak Performance, hailing from Sweden, happened upon Arthur while sharing a meal in advance of a 20-mile race stage through rough terrain in Ecuador. Mikael Lindnord, one of the team’s members, felt sorry for the scruffy, lonely stray, and decided to share a meatball with him. It was an innocent gesture — Lindnord had no intention but to lift the poor pooch’s spirits — but it was a gesture that would earn him a friend for life.
As the team got up to continue their race, Arthur tagged along. The team suspected he would eventually turn back around, but Arthur kept following them. He trailed them through muddy jungle, across vast distances of the Amazon river, all the way to the finish line.
The sport of adventure racing is not for the faint of heart — no more for dogs than for humans. During the most harrowing stages of the race, the team tried to shrug off their canine companion over concerns for his safety, but Arthur would have none of it. He was determined to stick with his adopted companions.
For instance, one crucial stage of the race requires the team to kayak along the coast for 36 miles. Understandably, the team was required to leave Arthur behind on the shore. But as they paddled away, Arthur broke free and leaped into the water and began swimming after the team. Realizing that the dog was willing to drown in order to stay with his friends, the team lifted Arthur onto the kayak so the dog could complete the race with them, to sounds of ovation from bystanders watching from the shore.
Arthur’s loyalty paid off in the end; Lindnord was able to adopt him and bring him back to his home in Sweden, where the dog is currently living, healthy and happy.
“I almost cried in front of the computer, when receiving the decision from Jordbruksverket (Board of Agriculture) in Sweden!” reported Lindnord when he first heard that his request to adopt Arthur was granted. “I came to Ecuador to win the World Championship. Instead, I got a new friend.”
This is a guest post coming up today. A reflection on what any dog lover feels when their beloved dog dies. (I don’t even want to think about the end of Pharaoh that can’t be too many weeks off!) But as has been said before it is one the key lessons that we learn from our dogs.
Not too many days ago I received an email from Liz Nelson.
I wanted to submit a synopsis of how our fur babies have dealt with the loss of a friend and the addition of another one to see if you wanted to use it as a guest post.
There was no question that I wanted to publish Liz’s synopsis so it could be shared with you. Here it is.
The death of Zeke
A little over a year ago we lost our precious Rottweiler, Zeke, to bone cancer.
Zeke, a rescue who still had remnants of buckshot in his torso from his days living in the woods of Mississippi, was with our family for about 8 years. A gentler giant there never was. He and our cat were friends and Zeke frequently bathed the cat’s head and ears. Zeke and our Chow-mix (Fiona) were also very close. We joked he was in love with her because he let her collect all the toys and win at tug-a-war, despite the size difference.
Losing Zeke was a tremendous blow for our household. Both dogs and our 2 cats were visibly impacted by Zeke’s loss. Fiona took it the hardest. She became listless, fatigued, and generally out of sorts. She wasn’t interested in playing and she became an even pickier eater. She would skip several meals in a row and then eat everybody’s food at one time (including the cats’). She and the other animals refused to touch the dog bed in the living room that Zeke had used. She also refused to chew on a large rawhide we found that had once been Zeke’s. It felt like she was saving his things for when he came back to claim them. We noticed the hair under her eyes starting to go gray. She started to show and act all 9 of her years (she’s a rescue and special needs dog so we’re amazed we’ve had 9 years with her).
The vet said we could explore antidepressants but I wanted to see if we could let her try to work through it without medication. Though they remain an option if needed.
In January, my husband said he was ready to think about getting a puppy and several weeks later we adopted an adorable rescue named Pierce. The rescue told us he was part Husky and part Lab. Now that he’s older we think there’s a hefty dose of hound in there. After a few days of wariness and some growling, the older dogs decided to accept the puppy as part of the household. Fiona regained her energy and she was often seen in the yard with the puppy, teaching Pierce how to play fight or stalk birds. She would chase the puppy until they were both exhausted (which we were grateful for). Sometimes she got annoyed with the puppy but for the most part she took on a big sister role.
Fast forward a few months and the puppy is now the biggest dog in the house. While he really is a good dog, he’s still a puppy. Now when he is too energetic there is a lot more of him bouncing around a room. Fiona spends much of her time reinforcing her dominance by taking his toys and putting them under her chin where Pierce is afraid to attempt to retrieve them. She’s stopped running around the yard to play with him. Perhaps because it hurts when you collide with 45 lbs of speeding, clumsy puppy (just ask my husband)? She has gone back to spending most of her time looking pitiful. She will let me pet her though she acts as if it is an imposition.
We’re hoping that when the puppy matures a little more Fiona will regain interest in playing with him. Or at least his behavior won’t annoy her as much. I know that the puppy can never replace Zeke’s place in the family but I really hope Fiona doesn’t spend the rest of her dog life mourning Zeke and ignoring the new dog!
Footnote (re the photo above):
I have a great picture of our family with Zeke and Fiona in it (and my third dog). It’s one of our engagement photos and I’m so glad we included the pups. As you can see Zeke was super cuddly! It’s one of my favorite pictures. You can use any of the information in my about section for an introduction. I don’t have it very detailed (I only started this blog this week) so if there is any additional info you want to include please let me know. I looked around for a more recent photo of myself but all of my recent ones are from Halloweens and involve costumes. Not really an everyday look!
So I guess let’s stick with the family photo. Thank you Paul!
I am a supervisor at a small non-profit agency. I’m also in school part-time working on a doctorate. I’m a social worker so I’ve been working in non-profit agencies since I got my master’s degree around 8 years ago. I’ve been in management for around 5 years. I have had to deal with pretty intense social anxiety for as long as I can remember.
For all my life this has felt like a very special month.
And, dear friends, at the risk of repeating myself to many of you, this is why the month of May is special for me.
Simply that I was born in London during the closing months of the Second World War. Inevitably, I was unaware of the number of German bombs that were falling on London during those last few months. But there were thousands.
On May 8th. 1945, the day that WWII ended and six months to the day from when I was born, my mother looked down at me and said aloud to me: “You are going to live”. Despite the fact that I don’t recall my mother saying that, it was verified many times later when I was growing up.
Now here we are approaching May 8th. 2017 and in a very real sense it seems that we are in another war.
A war of consequence.
A war that we have been engaged in for many, many years.
A war where we are inadvertently fighting on a global battlefield.
A war where 99.99% of us don’t consciously identify the weapons we are using. Weapons that are incredibly effective. So much so that we are in sight of winning the last battle; winning the war.
Yet a war where winning is no win at all. Indeed, where winning this war, this global war, spells the end. The end of life for 99.99% of us humans (and much else besides).
Now what on earth has got me so fired up?
Two things have:
The first is that I am living in my 73rd year of life. I have no idea of when my life comes to an end. But that death is a guarantee. Indeed, if one takes note of the average life expectancy of a male today in the USA (75.6 years) , it may not be that far away.
The second thing is that before my death I truly want to know that humankind has laid down its weapons of war against our planet and that there really is an unstoppable mission, a united wave of passion, to live in peace on this planet. Perhaps better put to live in peace with this planet.
Or in the words of an organization that I now want to introduce:
A mission which will require the hard work and dedication of each and every one of us as we do everything in our power as individuals, but also as we galvanize businesses, entrepreneurs, innovators, city planners, communities, people and politicians—all those who share our purpose.
OK! Thank you if you are still reading this! (Someone give Fred in that soft arm-chair over there a nudge; I can hear his snores from here!)
In the last Smithsonian electronic newsletter that I was reading yesterday morning there was a reference to an organization that I hadn’t previously come across. Here is the link to that item on The Smithsonian website. I am republishing it in full in this place. As you read it you will understand why I am republishing it.
Using a New Roadmap to Democratize Climate Change
A new tool aims to bypass governments and put the power of climate action in the people’s hands
Olafur Grimsson, who was president of Iceland from 1996 to 2016 and saw his country through the worst economic crisis in its history, making headlines all over the world as banks collapsed and the country fell into a depression, is the very picture of an urbane statesman. Collected and poised, with a striking full head of white hair, as comfortable in English as in his native Icelandic, he seems an unlikely revolutionary, not the sort of person you’d look at and immediately find yourself thinking: “Power to the People.”
But Grimsson is one of the primary architects of a quietly radical new idea whose aim is to facilitate action on climate change without any of the usual suspects—governments, countries, international bodies, negotiating parties.
He and several other veterans of the historic 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change were in Washington, D.C., last year, just before COP22, the climate meeting held in Marrakesh in 2016. They were pondering next steps when the conversation took a new and interesting turn, Grimsson says, addressing the question: “Was it possible to have the success of Paris without governments necessarily being in the leading role?”
The group included movers and shakers such as Peter Seligmann, the chairman of Conservation International; Laurene Powell Jobs, president of the philanthropic organization the Emerson Collective; and Andy Karsner, an assistant energy secretary during the administration of George W. Bush. Galvanized by their own query, they decided to try to answer it—to set about creating a new tool to aid in achieving the goals of the Paris accord.
At the Smithsonian’s Earth Optimism Summit, a gathering this past weekend of conservation-minded citizens, scientists and activists, Grimsson explained: “You get governments that are opposed or even hostile to climate action. We decided to bring together in Marrakesh a gathering of thinkers and scientists and innovators and policymakers from different countries in order to discuss a new model of securing the success of the future of the climate movement.”
Grimsson’s group felt that due to changes in information technology and social transformations, the large organizations and structures that used to be necessary to effect change were now not needed. And thus was born Roadmap, a new crowdsourcing tool for anyone and everyone interested in climate action. Still in its very early stages, Roadmap’s founders envision it as a platform for those working on climate issues—from scientist and policymaker to farmer and fisherman—to facilitate the sharing of knowledge and ideas, methods and techniques.
“A new political model is possible—where everyone can be a doer, where you no longer need big government or big enterprises to bring about success,” Grimsson says.
This new model for social change that skips the usual cumbersome channels and processes has been seen everywhere from public health, where the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has redefined the sector, to the hospitality industry, which is working to combat the human trafficking that plagues its businesses, to perhaps most famously the Arab Spring, where the role of social media in bringing about political change is still being debated today.
And this new model is complemented by technological changes. “The innovation in energy technology is such that we no longer have to wait for the big energy breakthrough,” Grimsson says. “We already have the available technologies. Every individual, home, village, community, town and region can execute change. The good news from the climate point of view is that, in addition to the information technology revolution, there has now also taken place an energy revolution. A house can be a power station: If the people who live in that house have extra energy, they can sell their energy through the smart grid. The notion that every house can be a power station is as revolutionary as saying that every mobile phone can be a media company.”
Grimsson admits that it may seem odd for someone in his position to be advocating that ordinary citizens take action apart from the conventional corridors of governmental power.
“For me to say that these traditional political organizations and positions are somewhat outdated is perhaps a strange statement: I was a professor of political science, I’ve been a member of parliament, I’ve been a minister of finance, I was president for 20 years,” he says.
It was during Iceland’s financial meltdown that he first experienced this new kind of social change: “I saw this very strongly through the financial crisis in my own country, which led to a big social economic uprising. All those activities were engineered by unknown people, people who were not part of a big organization, who used Facebook and the information media to bring thousands of people together in one day.”
Right now, Roadmap consists of a website and a lofty manifesto that speaks of raising the value of “moral currency” and creating a “best practices warehouse.” Visitors to the site can fill out a form if they want to become part of its community of “doers.” The practical part of the manifesto speaks of identifying the best methodologies and models; implementing a “real-time system of measurement” and a way to “gauge and understand what is working, what is not, and exactly what is being achieved.” As the platform develops, it will be interesting to see exactly what form these gauges, measurement systems, and warehouses take.
After the Paris Agreement, Grimsson says of himself and his Roadmap co-founders, “We were all optimistic, but we are all also realists.” It is his belief that if you “give people the tools, they can execute the transformation and the change—without governmental leadership.” Perhaps Roadmap will be one of those tools.
Here’s a video that spells it out in ways that I find impossible to ignore. (And, yes, I signed up, as in joining, yesterday afternoon.)
Because in hundreds of years time I want others to look at the following picture of Troutbeck Valley in England and know how precious is this one and only planet we live on.
We are witnessing more storms, more unseasonal weather patterns, and I just hope that we wake up soon to the damage we are doing to our beloved Mother that has held us in her eternal arms for so long..
Enjoy the month of May wherever you are in the world!
Closing by repeating a key pronouncement in that RoadMap video above:
Another delightful travel account from Natalie Derham-Weston.
Albeit perhaps travels of a more inward nature.
Travel Blog: Installment 3: Living on a boat.
I fancied an interlude this week to share a morning I enjoyed over the weekend. It isn’t often that the chance arises to enjoy our local surroundings without time limits, overdue deadlines or inconvenient meetings. However, I had a day off Saturday; a concept becoming more and more valued having since started a new full-time job, which is quite demanding on my time. I have requested this high load of hours but after months of travelling and not having regular work, it is taking a while for me to adjust to the mental and physical demands.
Anyway, without going into the irrelevant details, I have been spending my time living on a boat in a marina in Lymington, a small sea side town in the New Forest on the South Coast of England. This means my commute to work is a 2 minute walk and although I do not know the first notion about sailing, I have quickly fallen for the lifestyle of boats and water. I have found it to be extremely sociable and relaxing and I have all I need around me. This includes a bicycle, a car, swimming facilities, work, grocery shops and a very modest yet comfortable boat.
So last Saturday, I woke up early, as I was already in the routine of being awake from my work shifts and saw the sun streaming in through the port hole windows. This immediately buoyed me and I pulled the curtains and opened the hatch to let in the fresh air. I had a few items on a to do list but I certainly didn’t intend on wasting the valuable time I had.
I did have an appointment I couldn’t shirk but made it as quick as possible and on the way back picked up some lunch items. Back on the boat, I had a quick tidy and clean as I firmly believe an orderly workspace leads to a clearer mind.
I pre-empt this by saying I am usually accompanied by my father on the boat but this specific day was the first time I had been left in solo charge and this gave me somewhat of an independent free feeling. So my next mission was to cook some eggs which I did on our very small gas camping stove. I took some cushions out on deck and had my lunch in the warm April sunshine. Our pontoon seems to be quite an active mooring site and there were people constantly wandering along it all day, carrying tools, bags and equipment back and forth. So although I was alone, I did not feel isolated.
I then left everything behind on the boat, including my phone and took my bicycle around the headland on a trail I had never been on before. The channel was extremely clear and I had a wonderful view over to the Isle of Wight and watched the bustle of boats going to and fro. I passed lots of families, dogs, bird watchers and couples but kept going at a steady pace along the gravel track headed towards Keyhaven, the next fishing village along.
There is no specific reason why I enjoyed this so much, just the whole atmosphere and surroundings made for a very encompassing uplifting day. I continued along the path, and had no care as to where I was or where I was going. I was confident enough that I knew I’d always find my way back somehow and so without that pre-conditioned feeling of panic, I cycled on along the back roads and hauled my bicycle over fences and gates.
Two hours later I cycled back in to the marina and abandoned the bike next to the boat. The boat is never locked, another aspect I really appreciate. I don’t think this would be possible everywhere, but it allows for a very open way of life. So I grabbed a cushion and headed to the bow of the boat, lying in the sun, drinking a beer, watching the world go by.
This just proved to me how easy it is to be happy sometimes. We need very little but that day will stay in my memory for a long time as a point in time where I was 100% content.
I had the great fortune of living on a yacht Songbird of Kent, a Tradewind 33, for five years in the late ’80s early ’90s based out of Larnaca on the Greek side of Cyprus. I can fully vouch for the peace that Natalie has written about.
We know that sometimes animals have unlikely friendships. Whether it’s circumstances that throw them together or they just happen to find a friend from another species, animals will occasionally become pals, creating an unconventional alliance.
These unusual relationships cause a certain amount of double-takes — and they’re often incredibly adorable — but there’s also a scientific benefit to studying odd animal friendships.
“There’s no question that studying these relationships can give you some insight into the factors that go into normal relationships,” Gordon Burghardt, a professor in the departments of psychology and ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Tennessee, told the New York Times.
Cross-species bonds typically occur in young animals, and they’re also common among captive animals that have no choice but to seek each other out.
“I think the choices animals make in cross-species relationships are the same as they’d make in same-species relationships,” Marc Bekoff, professor emeritus of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Colorado, told Slate. “Some dogs don’t like every other dog. Animals are very selective about the other individuals who they let into their lives.”
And when predator and prey become buddies, that requires serious trust from the animal on the prey end, Bekoff points out.
Animal friendships — whether in their own species or outside — can be very meaningful. Consider the story of Szenja, a 21-year-old polar bear who died at SeaWorld San Diego in mid-April after an unexplained illness including loss of appetite and energy, according to The San Diego Union-Tribune. Szenja had recently been separated from her long-time companion, Snowflake, who had been sent to the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium for a breeding visit. The pair had been together for 20 years. The polar bears made headlines in March when more than 55,000 people signed a petition not to separate the “best friends.”
In a statement, PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Remain said Szenja died of a broken heart.
Here’s a look at some animal odd couples that have forged lasting bonds.
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