Orangutan — “person of the forest” and a very close relative

The Malay word ‘orangutan‘ means “person of the forest.” Studies show orangutans may be our closest relatives. Sadly, their increasing homelessness has brought them to the brink of extinction. How impoverished our world would be without their beautiful presence.

#ThankYou for this video, which helped me hope for a new tomorrow for our beloved relatives, the orangutans. May they find forests full of food. May they increase. May they thrive.


Fantastic Documentary: The Animal Communicator — Speaking in a language older than words.

Click the baboon to watch!

Photo credit: Portrait_Of_A_Baboon.jpg en.wikipedia.org

Do you remember a time when you communicated with an animal? Do you remember understanding each other completely, experiencing each other’s being?


“Anna Breytenbach has dedicated her life to what she calls interspecies communication. She sends detailed messages to animals through pictures and thoughts. She then receives messages of remarkable clarity back from the animals.”

I felt bathed in wonder and awe as I watched this story unfold. This film gives me hope that one day, before it’s too late, humans can re-establish a mutually respectful interbeing with animals. We will recognize our interconnectedness and communicate across perceived boundaries, just as our ancestors did millennia ago.

Beluga whale in a tank douses little boy

Do you get the feeling that the beluga whale may not be happy about being held in a tiny tank ogled by humans day-in and day-out? As Colin Baird, a former orca trainer, said about killer whales, “I think everyone has a better understanding of the natural world, and the intelligence and social infrastructure of these amazing animals — and that concrete pools are not a place for them to be.” That applies to beluga whales, too.

For an even-handed, level-headed view of killer whales held in captivity, see the documentary Blackfish, which “traces a 39-year history of killer whales in captivity leading up to the 2010 killing of Sea World trainer Dawn Brancheau by the 12,000-pound orca, Tilikum.”

May whales everywhere thrive and increase. May they find safe, fertile waters untrammeled by humans through which to swim their daily rounds. May those places remain uncharted…

“It is not down in any map; true places never are.” Moby Dick, by Herman Melville.

‘Astronomy Picture of the Day’ returns after government narrowly escapes shutdown’s black hole

'Three Galaxies and a Comet' -- "Diffuse starlight and dark nebulae along the southern Milky Way arc over the horizon." From Astronomy Picture of the Day http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap131020.html


by Freya Manfred

What matters most? It’s a foolish question because I’m hanging on,
just like you. No, I’m past hanging on. It’s after midnight and I’m falling
toward four a.m., the best time for ghosts, terror, and lost hopes.

No one says anything of significance to me. I don’t care if the President’s
a two year old, and the Vice President’s four. I don’t care if you’re
cashing in your stocks or building homes for the homeless.

I was a caring person. I would make soup and grow you many flowers.
I would enter your world, my hands open to catch your tears,
my lips on your lips in case we both went deaf and blind.

But I don’t care about your birthday, or Christmas, or lover’s lane,
or even you, not as much as I pretend. Ah, I was about to say,

“I don’t care about the stars” — but I had to stop my pen.
Sometimes, out in the silent black Wisconsin countryside
I glance up and see everything that’s not on earth, glowing, pulsing,
each star so close to the next and yet so far away.

Oh, the stars. In lines and curves, with fainter, more mysterious
designs beyond, and again, beyond. The longer I look, the more I see,
and the more I see, the deeper the universe grows.

I have a long way to go, and I’m starting now —
out in the silent black Wisconsin countryside.

“Stars” by Freya Manfred, from Swimming with a Hundred Year Old Snapping Turtle. © Red Dragonfly Press, 2008.

I hope your dreamlife contains the whales I’ve seen, that one in the Humboldt current

The Humboldt Current, also known as the Peru Current, is the most productive marine ecosystem in the world, as well as the largest upwelling system, supporting an extraordinary abundance of marine life. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Humboldt_Current  Photo: http://yourescapetoecuador.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/Humpback-Rainbow-625x380.jpg

Humpback whale “who seemed to watch the seabirds wheeling around her head.”

The Bear

by Jim Harrison

When my propane ran out
when I was gone and the food
thawed in the freezer I grieved
over the five pounds of melted squid,
but then a big gaunt bear arrived
and feasted on the garbage, a few tentacles
left in the grass, purplish white worms.
O bear, now that you’ve tasted the ocean
I hope your dreamlife contains the whales
I’ve seen, that one in the Humboldt current
basking on the surface who seemed to watch
the seabirds wheeling around her head.

How the government shut-down took my stars away

News about the government shut-down flames on, day-in, day-out. And so it should: Lives are under siege and, though it sounds hyperbolic to say, the advance of civilization as we know it has stumbled to a halt and our government has crumpled to its knees.

I will tell you about my small grief: NASA’s Astronomical Photograph of the Day (apod.nasa.gov/apod/) service has shut down and is defunct. I often look at the site to marvel at the photographs and read about our fellow planets with whom we circle the sun, the fly-by asteroids in our galactic neighborhood, and the stars that populate our night skies (though only occasionally seen here in cloudy Seattle).

In memory of the amazing and truly extraordinary APOD website, and with the hope that it will be resurrected very shortly, I offer this photo of the Pleides (from National Geographic) and this poem (Country Stars by William Meredith).

I ask that the wisdom of the universe, always available to us in one form or another whether mathematical or mysterious, inform the thinking of our elected officials as they forge ahead with all of our lives in the balance.


Click the photo to see a larger version of the Pleides–the seven starry sisters that brighten the night sky with their beauty.

Country Stars

by William Meredith

The nearsighted child has taken off her glasses

and come downstairs to be kissed goodnight.

She blows on a black windowpane until it’s white.

Over the apple trees a great bear passes

but she puts her own construction on the night.

Two cities, a chemical plant, and clotted cars

breathe our distrust of darkness on the air,

clouding the pane between us and the stars.

But have no fear, or only proper fear:

the bright watchers are still there.

Damian Aspinall’s Gorilla Encounter: In a language beyond words, transcending differences and the limits of time

A story rich with elements of myth: A man raises a baby gorilla then releases him into the wild. He returns to the jungle five years later to search for his gorilla-friend. A wise woman warns him: the gorilla is big now and has attacked twice—you may not be safe. Be careful.

With his human brother, the man travels up and down a wide river coursing through the jungle, calling to his old friend, his gorilla-brother. Suddenly, out of the dense foliage steps a stunning gorilla. The two share a greeting ritual. The gorilla looks deep into the man’s eyes and holds the man as if he never wants to let go. They communicate in a language older, more complete and meaningful than words.

The time to separate arrives. The two hearts seem to beat as one, their bond transcending their differences, untouched by the limits of time.