A Reality Check For A Busy Body

I wish I could say I’ve been away; somewhere tropical sipping cocktails with tiny umbrellas, taking pictures of my sun-kissed toes which I then posted on Instagram for my 4 followers but the truth, dear readers and friends, is far uglier, even sinister.

I have been busy.

Mad busy.  Mostly busy with work but also busy dealing with Life’s unexpected challenges, like yesterday’s unforeseen trip to the doctor for a tetanus shot because…

of busyness.

There I was in the kitchen, mobile phone cradled between left ear and raised shoulder, talking about a photographic shoot our company had commissioned, while opening a can of tomato paste when the call ended and I  rushed to complete the task at hand because I had a campaign to finalize and a How-To doc to submit and so, lifted the rest of the lid with what I thought was my thumbnail but in fact I used my thumb and there was blood, lots of blood and I had a flashback to a day, not so long ago, when we had to rush my eldest son to the doctor when he was four (maybe five) for a tetanus shot when he stood on a rusty nail..

The doctor was kind but he looked at me disapprovingly when I explained that I wasn’t really thinking.  I just did it like I was Superwoman because some days, most days lately, I feel like Superwoman.   And right then, I knew I was in trouble. I was trying to make dinner in under ten minutes which is unusual for me, because I love cooking. Correction: Used to love cooking.

What happened?

While I write this, I realize that ‘my word for 2015’ – the word I chose for myself this year was ATTENTION. In fact, there were two words: WONDER and ATTENTION and the two are interchangeable now, because if I am not paying attention I am missing out on all the wonder….

Just this past week I had the opportunity to visit one of the world’s most spectacular gardens – The Butchart Gardens, on Vancouver Island.  I went to the island on a business trip and then, since hubby accompanied me, decided to stay on an extra day.

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‘Sunken Garden’ Butchart Gardens – photo: Y McAdam

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Sweet peas! LOVE them! Photo: Y McAdam

One of the first thoughts I had on getting back home was ‘I have to go back’.  I have to go back and drink in all that beauty and sink my toes into the dark earth and watch for the unfurling of petals; the rustling of leaves.

I’m less harried now.  My heart is lighter – happier.  And it’s because I’m sharing this with you and because I am writing again, and the writing is not for work, it’s not going to pay the bills but it fills up my Spiritual tank.

On The Red List

I wrote this post earlier this week because of an image I saw on Facebook.  It was the photo of a sad baby rhino who according to the article was scared to sleep alone.  That story inspired this post but then after reading it, I thought no, I won’t publish it because the world doesn’t need another whiny post from another animal-lover and passionate conservationist.  But then … an egomaniac decided he and his estimated 20 000 guests would feast on elephant and buffalo meat at his 91st birthday celebration and that dear readers and friends is why you get to read my post.

From Grade 1 to 3 our school would take us on ‘field trips’ to the zoo.  Even then, as a curious and fierce animal lover I did not like zoos and dreaded those trips.   Something –  I knew not what – was wrong with the Polar Bear and something was definitely wrong with the Siberian Tiger.  It wasn’t until I went on my first safari that I realized what that ‘something’ was and why their lacklustre coats and sad eyes filled me with horror.  Lost to those animals behind thick iron bars and high walls is the life coded into their DNA.  These animals have been abducted and abused for profit and yet …in some cases – and this is increasingly becoming the case – animals are being saved by zoos.

Do you visit zoos and aquariums?  Do you feel we need them? 

To save animals from human beings you have to capture them and imprison them, because demarcating swathes of land with walls or barbed wire and declaring them ‘wildlife preserves’ do not stop poachers.

Here’s some quick rhino related facts: the Western Black Rhino has been wiped out by poachers; there are only five Northern White Rhinos left in the world, all in captivity and all unable to breed.

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Image from discoverwildlife.com

Beautiful, shaggy orangutans (above) are on the endangered list (Borneo).  These gardeners of the forest are responsible for ‘seed dispersal’ but human encroachment has impacted negatively on their population.  Snow leopards, sea lions, Green Turtles, Fin Whales, African Wild Dogs, Black Footed Ferrets…if you have not yet heard of these wonderful creatures or had the privilege to see them in their natural habitats, familiarize yourself with them today because soon they will join a chorus of Dodos and Passenger Pigeons.

So today I encourage you to visit a wildlife refuge or zoo if it means you get to see and fall in love with ‘exotic’ species or something within you wakes up to the realization that we’re not as ‘superior’ or as special as we like to think we are, because of our Big Brains and Big Plans for more, more and more until nothing is left, just a list of names in the interverse.

This Time Last Year…

This time last year we were living in an African jungle on the eastern coast of Southern Africa.

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Image:  Penduka Safaris

*just for the record, zebras live in the grasslands/savannas and not in the jungle but I thought you would appreciate the pic.

We were in Africa on an extended holiday break so when a (very) good friend of ours said we could stay in his house ‘between the ocean and the jungle’ we jumped at it.    Now, let me make it very clear that being ‘in nature’ in Africa is in no way comparable to a walk through Walden’s woods.   While both – jungle and woodland – hold mystery and magic, jungles are primal, hot and teeming with life. There is nothing pastoral or tame in the few remaining indigenous pockets of jungle.  Sure, we have black bears and grizzlies and belligerent moose but in parts of Africa you get an Ark load of slithering, slippery, super vocal and extremely dangerous animals (not that I’m saying a bad tempered bear isn’t dangerous) within spitting distance.

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I cannot think of jungles without thinking of drums.  And heartbeat.

The brush is so dense (see above) Mr thought he would have to buy a machete 😀 but his hopes of turning into a bushwhacking Indiana Jones were quickly dashed when we discovered footpaths and trails through the jungle and up into the surrounding mountains.

Not a day went by that we weren’t surprised by some inquisitive and potentially dangerous creature like this young male baboon who thought he’d vocalize his territorial dominance more times than was absolutely necessary.

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His troop tried to break into the  house. Twice. While we were inside.   Apparently they have no manners.  Apparently they do it not so much for the food but for the sheer pleasure of trashing stuff.   Being targeted by a troop of baboons is no laughing matter.  We tried to scare them away (as one would a curious bear) by banging pots and pans but that only seemed to encourage them.

Baboons are not  to be trifled with.  Neither are the venomous snakes.  And there are a lot of those.  You’ll find them hanging like vines waiting for a distracted bird or lying on the ground after dark to soak in the heat of the day.    A friend of ours was bitten by a green mamba and was told at the hospital to get his affairs in order as he would have (approx.) two hours left to live.

Imagine.

Being told you have an hour or so left.

The good news is the snake apparently didn’t have it in for him.  He lived because the amount of venom injected was not a lethal dose.

This time last year I was reading books by South African writers:  Nadine Gordimer, Dalene Mathee and  The Ivory Trail by T.V. Bulpin (there are many more excellent South African writers but these were in my travel bag).  Wherever I go on my travels I try to read about that country or state’s nature and culture.   It enriches the experience for me because I love history.

Mr read books on flora and fauna.

This Summer, we’re planning on venturing deeper into the wilds of beautiful British Columbia.  Mr plans on (finally) learning the difference between a hemlock and a spruce…

What were you doing this time last year? Where were you?