Friday Photo: Elephants are wonderful. That is all.



I had a dog / who loved flowers…

Precious Luna--faithful friend, old soul, teacher. Thank you.


by Mary Oliver

I had a dog
who loved flowers.
Briskly she went
through the fields,

yet paused
for the honeysuckle
or the rose,
her dark head

and her wet nose
the face
of every one

with its petals
of silk,
with its fragrance

into the air
where the bees,
their bodies
heavy with pollen,

and easily
she adored
every blossom,

not in the serious,
careful way
that we choose
this blossom or that blossom—

the way we praise or don’t praise—
the way we love
or don’t love—
but the way

we long to be—
that happy
in the heaven of earth—
that wild, that loving.

“Luke” by Mary Oliver from Dog Songs. © Penguin, 2013.

Two horses…The dignity of being.

Two horses were put together in the same paddock.
Night and day. In the night and in the day
wet from heat and the chill of the wind
on it. Muzzle to water, snorting, head swinging
and the taste of bay in the shadowed air.
The dignity of being. They slept that way,
knowing each other always.
Withers quivering for a moment,
fetlock and the proud rise at the base of the tail,
width of back. The volume of them, and each other’s weight.
Fences were nothing compared to that.
People were nothing. They slept standing,
their throats curved against the other’s rump.
They breathed against each other,
whinnied and stomped.
There are things they did that I do not know.
The privacy of them had a river in it.
Had our universe in it. And the way
its border looks back at us with its light.
This was finally their freedom.
The freedom an oak tree knows.
That is built at night by stars.

“The Weight” by Linda Gregg, from Chosen by the Lion. © Graywolf Press, 1994.

Lucy the Chimpanzee: A “haunting epic” tale from Radiolab that you will never forget

When I heard the life story of Lucy the chimpanzee on Radiolab I felt as if I had taken a spear through the heart. I connected with her innocence, her suffering, and her abandonment as if I were touching a downed live electrical wire.

Lucy was adopted at two days of age by a couple who raised her as their child. Later, after having been raised as a human, she was taken to Gambia and released on an island to live with a group of wild chimpanzees.

Lucy encountered one beautiful bit of good luck in her life: Janis Carter, who studied chimpanzees in Gambia, worked to help Lucy adjust to her new life. With great compassion and persistence she did what she could to ease Lucy’s sense of profound abandonment and loss.

Listen to this story. Once heard, you will never forget it. It haunts me now, almost a year since I first heard it, and I know it will stay with me for the duration.

May it inspire us all to protect the lives of animals everywhere. Click the photo for the link to the audio.

Lucy the Chimp: A True Tale of Staggering Sorrow & Loss

Lucy, wherever you are, may you be at peace now. May you live on in the heart of limitless grace.

Lucy the chimpanzee was raised as a human in the 1970s and 80s by Dr. Maurice and Jane Temerlin. Black and white images of Lucy with the Temerlins from Dr. Temerlin’s now out-of-print book, “Growing up Human,’ courtesy of Science and Behavior Books, Inc. Photos of Lucy in Gambia courtesy of Janis Carter. Slideshow produced by Sharon Shattuck.

Lucy clings to Janis Carter in their last meeting.

Lucy clings to Janis Carter in their last meeting. Then, resigned, drifts away into the forest.

Finding my New Year’s Resolution with the help of Philip Appleman, my friend Becky, and Monty Python!

Earlier today as I was casting about for a New Year’s resolution, I came upon Philip Appleman’s poem New Year’s Resolution. The segment beginning “Resolved: this year” seemed good, instructive:

Resolved: this year

I’m going to break my losing streak,

I’m going to stay alert, reach out,

speak when not spoken to,

read the minds of people in the streets.

I’m going to practice every day,

stay in training, and be moderate

in all things…

(From:  “New Year’s Resolution,” by Philip Appleman, in New and Selected Poems,1996)

Later today I discovered that my dear and long-standing friend, Becky, closed her thoughtful and fun-to-read New Year’s Eve blog post with Monty Python’s “Galaxy Song”.  The song invites us to put our lives in perspective, just as this time of year does, as well: “So remember when you’re feeling small and insecure / how amazingly unlikely is your birth…” How perfect is that?

Check out this version of the Galaxy Song to learn some astronomy (in less than three minutes) and to be reminded that our trip through the Universe is completely wild and fast. See if this doesn’t make you want to get out there and experience it all.

Happy New Year to you. May 2014 be truly memorable-in-a-good-way and personally meaningful.