The Art of Appreciation

img_0567(Caveat: A different version of this essay appeared elsewhere, long ago and far away.)

It’s almost impossible for me to pass up an interesting consignment store, second-hand shop, or flea market. I love trolling for treasure because I never know what I’ll find. Sometimes nothing, it’s true, but more often than not I’ve walked away with something I truly cherish. Nothing expensive, mind you; that’s not what I’m looking for. My eyes are set on those things that speak to my heart.

Bit ago, I was puttering through an area Goodwill when I came across a CD of Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture, Leonard Bernstein conducting the New York Philharmonic. I bought it on a whim, mostly because of Bernstein’s name. (An aside here. When I was living in NYC many decades ago, the woman I shared an apartment with was given tickets to the NY Philharmonic by her boss. Not having a ready date, she invited me to go along. We dressed in our finest–not all that fine on our budget–and went, not knowing what we might hear or who would be conducting. And Lo, out walked Leonard Bernstein, five-thousand pounds of TNT in a 5’5″ frame. Watching him stride onto that stage was like watching the arrival of God, and I’ve never recovered.)

Anyway, I put the CD into the car play as I drove home.  My God.

All this time later, I still can’t listen to it without spouting tears, never mind finding sufficient words to describe the beauty of this recording. When my husband first heard it, he remarked that it was impossible for him to not think of Hugo Weaving in the movie “V for Vendetta,” and the image of the Old Bailey exploding. (Similarly, those born during a certain time period can’t hear the William Tell Overture without wanting to yell “Hi-Yo, Silver, away!”)

It’s not such a bad thing to connect a piece of classical music to a cinematic image. Oh, there’re those who’d say it is; those who feel that the purity of classical music should be experienced without the crass trappings of Hollywood. For some, though, a movie soundtrack may be their first experience of classical music, and where’s the harm in that?

Case in point: my love of classical music stems not from my mother’s ballet music phonograph records (yes, children, music was pressed into vinyl discs once upon a time), but from Saturday morning Warner Bros. cartoons. Bugs Bunny taught me to appreciate Rossini (“Rabbit of Seville”), Strauss and Tchaikovsky (“A Corny Concerto”), and Wagner (“Long-Haired Hare” and “What’s Opera, Doc?”).  Thanks to Bugs, Elmer, and the rest, I learned about passion and humor, turmoil and hilarity. I suspect watching those cartoons every Saturday also fed into my love of words and desire to write. Thanks, guys! (And if you’ve never seen them, run to YouTube and search them out. You won’t be sorry.)

Back in 2007, violinist Joshua Bell stood incognito in a cold Washington D.C. Metro Station and played six Bach pieces, some of the most intricate music ever written, with a violin worth $3.5 million. The performance lasted approximately 45 minutes. Something approaching 2,000 people went through the station in that time. After three minutes, a man stopped for a few seconds, then hurried on. Four minutes later, a woman threw a dollar into Bell’s hat and kept walking. Six minutes later, a young man stopped briefly to listen before moving away. Ten minutes later, a three-year-old stopped to listen, but his mother pushed him along. This identical action was repeated by several other children, although every adult, without exception, forced them to move on quickly. In total, six people stopped to listen for a short while, and 20 gave money as they passed. Bell collected a total of $32. When he finished, silence took over. No one noticed when he left. No one applauded his performance.

This wasn’t a silly whim on Bell’s part, but a sociology experiment about perception, taste and people’s priorities . The questions being raised were these: Do we perceive beauty when it’s presented to us in a common place environment, at an inappropriate hour? Do we recognize talent when it appears in an unexpected context?

If not, how much of the  world are we missing?

Whether it’s music or poetry, the ocean or stars, a baby’s cry or the last breath of a loved one, when the opportunity comes your way to share in the mystery, the beauty, hang the clock. Feed your soul.

 

 

These Things Take Time

I usually drink my first cup of morning tea working at my desk. I’m most productive first thing and have always been an early riser, a bane to mother, who’d have stayed up late and slept in until ten every day had the choice been hers. I save checking email and Facebook until the day’s work is done, unwilling to sacrifice creative energy to those mundane chores.

IMG_2638This morning, however, I’m distracted by the appearance in our front yard of Barry White and his harem. Barry is our resident turkey cock, a massive and handsome fellow who puffs his chest feathers and spreads that Thanksgiving bird tail as he sweet-talks his ladies.  Ooh, baby, ooh, baby. The hens alternately ignore him and egg him on flirtatiously. Yesterday, I inadvertently interrupted him and a lady-friend carnally engaged in the bushes. Oops! Sorry about that. They both gave me offended looks. Move along, pervert. Don’t you know these things take time?

It’s July, so of course people have begun to talk about winter, how it’ll be here before we know it. I give less conscious thought to it, but see indications every day when Holly and I walk the Airline Trail or meander around the yard. Day lilies are producing like mad, each bloom good for one cycle of the sun before they wither and drop. The bleeding hearts have gone to seed, the pods bursting to enrich the ground with what will become next year’s seedlings. (Anyone want plants? I’ve lots.) The hosta are in bloom, remarkably untouched by deer so far. Perhaps they’re put off by the astilbe, which they don’t care for. Grass seed is coming in on bare patches of soil, remnants of the work we had done to put a curtain drain in the back yard. My husband’s garden of potted plants–born of a whim to plant five-year-old packets of tomato, basil, and chard seed–have miraculously sprouted and are growing like the blue blazes with what little sun manages to get through the leaf cover on our south side.  Days are hot and the evenings blessedly cool, without hint (yet) of autumn. These things, too, take time.

img_1847Holly is 10 1/2 years old. On the downhill side, as they say. So far, she’s managed to hold traction on that slope, but I wonder for how long. Last week, she became very ill with vomiting, diarrhea, fever, pain. We ended up taking her to the veterinary ER and they kept her for two days. We brought her home with meds and orders for a bland diet, which she’s still on as we work to erase all sign of illness. Diagnosis was gastroenteritis, ie, stomach ache. What’d she eat to upset her? Who knows. Could be wildlife excrement, dirt, or something from the garbage. (I blame the cat for that. Rudy taught Holly the joys of garbage surfing, so we’ve had to child-proof the cabinet door. As for eating poop, that one I lay at the feet of Holly’s former next-door neighbor boyfriend, Randy. She was the perfect dog before he got his paws on her.) It’s hard watching her get old, turn gray around the eyes and muzzle. When we left her at the vet’s last week, I honestly thought she was done. She looked ancient, worn out, used up. Not so, as it turns out. But I can see her wending her way toward the path that leads to the next great adventure. Please, I think. Take your time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Time’s swift feet and good news

IMG_6664You’ve experienced the phenomenon – that fleet passage of time that makes no sense. One minute it’s July, and in the next  you’re pulling on a sweater to go holiday shopping. Blink and it’s gone. Where did it go?

And so it’s been with me.  I get caught up in the day-to-day, the things that need attending to, NOW and those other things that need attending to now fall by the wayside, gathering in little leaf-ridden heaps swept into corners.

I’ve been working all that time, beavering away on the book, and this week turned in the final edits on the manuscript. Gotta say that paging through it, seeing the copyright page for the first time, made me pause. Holy Cats, this is actually happening! I’m so proud of how far this book has come from its nebulous days back in February 2015. Kudos to the team at Ooligan Press, who have worked so diligently to hammer my words into the best shape they can be. Ongoing thanks to Roger Henneous and his family for showing unflagging support and enthusiasm for this project, no matter how many times I ask the same questions.

And, of course, life balances good with not-so-good. There’ve been worries – a bout of lingering illness for our dog  Holly that only serves to underscore that she’s 10 1/2 and won’t live forever no matter how much we wish it. The chronic and debilitating illness of a nephew, as well as that of a good friend I’ve never met, but love nonetheless. They are both such warriors. My niece, mother of the nephew, who battles fear and heartache every day and somehow keeps going. Another friend, extremely near and dear, who had a minor stroke a few weeks ago, reminding me that he ain’t no Spring Chicken anymore.

And so it goes.

Ooh, baby, ooh, baby

IMG_2638Most mornings, I wake up somewhere between four and five o’clock. Often it’s courtesy of my cat Ruby, who seems to feel that’s an appropriate hour for breakfast. Lately, however, my alarm has been a soft burbling noise from the woods behind our house, the wake-up call of the local turkey flock.

At some point (and there’s no telling when, as they keep to their own schedule), they’ll appear, stalking through the yard on lean legs, walking with slow ceremony as they search the ground for nuts, berries, and other choice morsels. Most of the year, it’s just The Girls (as I call them), six or eight hens busy about their business. In spring (in other words now) they’re joined by a robust and handsome fellow I’ve nicknamed “Barry White” for his sultry mating call. Barry postures and preens, puffs his feathers until he’s almost spherical, and fans his spectacular tail feathers as he courts his women. (One year, we had a flock of 15 come through, with a fully adult male and two juveniles, all working hard to lure the ladies.)

I suspect Barry will be successful in his wooing, and I look forward to seeing the hatchlings come through the yard, following close on mother’s heels, mindful of the raptors, coyote, and fox that also shelter in our woods.

Do Something

IMG_0350

 

I was on Facebook this morning, tooling around, looking to see what friends have posted and being inundated by advertisements, many from charities asking for donations.

There are a few charities to which I routinely donate, most on the smaller side of the business, those who slip beneath the radar and can really use the support. Even though I give of my dollars, and sometimes my time, I can’t help but feel I should be doing more, adopting just one more charity, buying one more this-or-that to help support a cause. I can’t, of course, and maybe neither can do. We’re tapped out, but there are always more hands reaching, more pleas being launched.

I’ve discovered that I can contribute in other ways if I only take the time to think about it. Returning my grocery cart (what we call ’em back home in upstate New York; down here in Connecticut they’re known as carriages) to the specially-designed location rather than leaving it cattywumpus or blocking a parking space can be an act of charity. The person assigned to police those carts saves time (and exposure to inclement weather) when they’re lined up neatly, a parking space might be freed up, and the cart is kept from catching the wind and flying across the lot to smack into someone’s vehicle. Heck, while you’re at it, straighten all of them. It doesn’t take long.

Pick up trash, your own as well as that of others. They might never learn to clean up after themselves, but maybe one person will see you doing it and decide to do the same. And if they don’t, who cares? You’re doing it.

Today I plan to begin toting a grocery sack with me when I walk the dog so I can pick up the bundles of dog poo left behind by those conscientious citizens who feel they’re fulfilling their duty by cleaning up after their pup, but who can’t be bothered to take the additional step to actually tote it home and toss it into the garbage. (If that sounds a tad snarky, it is. This is a particular bug-a-boo for me, as the walk in question is through protected wetland. People might be more inclined to carry the poop bags out if there was a garbage can at the parking lot, but we don’t have those because, of course, certain individuals find them fun to upend and strew. But, seriously, what’s the big deal to bring it home and trash it? Why this sense that someone else ought to clean up after your dog because …? Of your fancy car? The amount in your bank account? Because you’re so much better than they are? I don’t get it.

Do something. Hold a door. Offer to help someone struggling with bags to carry them to their car. Smile at a stranger. To paraphrase Dr. Who, as played by Peter Capaldi:

Never be cruel.
Never be cowardly.
Hate is always foolish.
Love is always wise.
Always try to be nice.
Never fail to be kind.
Laugh hard.
Run fast.
Be kind.

Me & My Big Mouth

Today_ Tomorrow_ Always_cover-v2-1.1Remember some time back when I mentioned how much I love editing? Yeah, that time. If I ever say it again, remind me that I need to keep my trap closed and not taunt the Powers That Be.

I’m only partly serious. I still love the E-word, but I’ve just come off the hands-down most  intense editing stint I’ve ever done (and that includes reworking an entire novel in seven days). I’m mentally flat-lined. I can even feel it in my muscles because, of course, you know all those hours in the chair, hunched over the keyboard, it takes a toll. We’re talking 8, 10, sometimes 12 hours a day in order to meet deadline (which I still had to extend by two weeks because I couldn’t seem to get off the launch pad for nearly 10 days not because I wasn’t working, but because I couldn’t find the center, the focus, from where to begin. It finally happened, thank God, but man …)

Best part of all this is that I’m pretty happy with what I produced. I can’t say “entirely happy” only because I’m so close to it by now, and so tired, that my ability to judge has gone a bit squiffy.

So, anyway, it’s in the hands of my editors and publishing team, and we’ll soon be talking cover, and title. (The working title remains “The Man Who Loves Elephants” but they’re talking about changing it, and I can only hope they laughed when I suggested “Fifty Shades of Gray.”

Until I have further news on that front, I’d like to share this: That the anthology in which my story “Trinity” appears is now available here on Amazon for $6.99. As always, thank you for all your support.

Story Snippet from “Thicker Than Water”

Three on a matchWhat’s gone before: Cora Coleman resides in a New England  village with her family — six-year-old daughter, Rebecca, and husband, Brendan, away to sea aboard a whaling ship. Cora is a good wife — loyal, true — and a goodwife, trained in the use of herbs to address everything from headaches to love sickness; a skill passed along the line of women that stretches back to her ancestors in Ireland.

Trusted by her neighbors, she’s unprepared when the spurned advances of a young buck results in her being accused of witchcraft. Suddenly, it seems that the entire village has turned against her. And now, witch hunter Orias King, has arrived …

Rebecca comes in as he’s descending the ladder. Her eyes are red and swollen, her cheeks blotchy with tears. She pauses just inside the door, struck dumb by the presence of strangers, then runs to the security of my lap and buries her face against me.

“What’s wrong, sweetheart?” I whisper, but she remains silent.

King introduces himself to John and they shake hands. He looks at me. “This is your daughter?”

I nod. “This is Rebecca,” I say proudly, keeping my voice light. She’ll take her cues from me, and I don’t want her to fear this man or any other. I set her on her feet, wipe her face with the edge of my apron, straighten her cap, and turn her to face him.

The witch hunter’s steps are startlingly quiet on the wooden floor, like the cushioned footfalls of a cat. He squats in order to look her straight in the eye. “Hello, Rebecca,” he says cordially. “My name is Mr. King.”

She makes a quick curtsy. Then, overcome with shyness, she looks at her feet.

“You’ve been weeping,” he observes.

She peeks at him. After a moment, she nods.

He takes a white handkerchief from his pocket and holds it out to her. “Here. Wipe your eyes.”

I want to fiercely point out to him that her eyes have already been wiped–that have wiped them and I will take care of her because I’m her mother and he is nothing–but my voice lies in my chest like a dead thing.

She takes it from him and does as she’s told. When she goes to hand it back, the witch hunter shakes his head. “No, you keep it.” He smiles. “Consider it a little gift from me to you.”

Her own smile is brilliant, like the sun. I despise him for it. I wish Brendan were here to fling him into the street. Then again, none of this would be happening if Brendan were here.

“Did you fall and hurt yourself?” King asks. “Is that why you cried?”

Rebecca shakes her head. She glances at me, weighing my reaction to this man. I swallow my dislike for her sake. “What happened, love? What made you cry?”

“Mistress Sharp won’t let Fanny play with me.” Tears shiver across the surface of her eyes again, but do not fall. “She said,”–her breath hitches in her chest–“she said that Fanny isn’t allowed to play with witches.” She looks over her shoulder at me. “Are we witches, Mam?”

I could cheerfully slap Constance Sharp across her mean-spirited mouth. “No.” I meet King’s gaze over the top of her head. “No, we’re not witches.”

He shifts to sit cross-legged, like a tailor, like a child. “That wasn’t a very nice thing for her to say, Rebecca.” His voice is warm, inviting her confidence. I’d like nothing so much as to strike him. “Maybe you and I can play together instead.”

Fear grips my heart. I don’t want him anywhere near her, yet already she’s on the floor, mimicking his posture, a pair of old friends. The other adults in the room are silent, mesmerized, watching him charm my daughter.

“What’s your favorite game?” King asks. “Is it shuttlecock?”

She shakes her head.

“Knucklebones?” he says teasingly.

No, not that.

“Rolling the hoop?”

No.

King throws his hands up and lets them fall. “I’m out of guesses. You’ll have to tell me.”

She grins openly, triumphant at having stumped him. “Dollies.”

His eyes brighten with delight. “Dollies!” he crows, as if he should have guessed it all along. “That’s a wonderful game! Could you show me your dolly?”

Rebecca scrambles to her feet and hurries over to her pallet. She returns with a rag doll half her size and offers it to King. He’s already seen it, having inspected her bed along with everything else in the house, but he takes the time to exclaim over its perfection before handing it back.

Delighted to have met someone who appreciates the toy as much as she does, Rebecca cuddles the doll to her chest and swings back and forth, every bit the mother soothing her fussy baby.

The witch hunter watches her sway, his eyes drawn to the bell-like motion of her apron. “What have you got in your pockets?”

One hand dips readily and brings out a large clam shell bleached white by the sun.

King nods. “That’s lovely. What else?”

She puts the shell on the floor and produces another, a razor clam, long and narrow, mottled white and brown.

Fletcher Ellison makes a noise of annoyance. “We’ve better things to do than–”

A flick of the witch hunter’s obsidian eyes is all it takes to silence him. “What else?”

Next is a damp gull feather with a broken shaft. After that, a periwinkle, followed by a piece of oddly shaped driftwood. King barely glances at any of it. “What else?” he repeats, his gaze never leaving my daughter’s pockets.

Rebecca shakes her head, suddenly shy again.

He smiles. “Come now,” he chides in a teasing tone. “I thought we were friends. I can see there’s more in there. What else have you got?”

She looks at me. Her expression is one with which every parent is familiar, but in this context it takes me by surprise. What could she possibly have to feel guilty about? “Mam will be mad,” she murmurs.

Something in King’s expression shifts, like the shimmer of oil on water. His eyes lift to meet mine. “Oh, I’m sure that’s not true,” he croons.

My throat is unaccountably dry. “Of course not,” I say, unable to quell the tremor in my guts. “Show us what you have.”

Rebecca’s hand disappears deep into her pocket. What she brings out stops the heart in my chest.

To find out what happens next, you can purchase a copy of THREE ON A MATCH: The Terror Project, Volume 2 on Amazon or order a signed copy from me via email.  THREE ON A MATCH, a production of Books and Boos Press also includes stories by g. Elmer Munson and Kristi Petersen Schoonover.

Canine Epilepsy,Two Years On

img_1847I’ll never forget Holly’s first seizure.

It was August 11, 2016, two months short of her eighth birthday. We were hanging out in the kitchen–me getting ready to prepare lunch, her hoping for a handout–when suddenly her feet began to beat a rapid tattoo against the floor. At first, hearing it, I thought she was scratching herself or maybe having one of those occasional “dry humping” moments. Then I looked down … and knew at once that it wasn’t either of those things, but something new, something scary, and something definitely wrong.

Her eyes, usually soulful and mild, were wide and wild. Her feet skittered this way and that as if she was trying to keep her balance on ice or slippery polish. She collapsed onto her side, legs and feet paddling frenziedly, spine arched backward, jaws gaping so wide it was a wonder they didn’t crack, teeth bared, tongue lolling. Saliva gushed from her mouth and urine sprayed across the floor.

I yelled for my husband Ed, busy in his basement office, and fell to my knees beside her. “You’re okay, you’re okay, you’re okay,” I babbled, knowing she wasn’t. I held her, not restraining her, but just to let her know I was there.

This first grand mal seizure lasted approximately forty-five of the longest seconds of my life. In the time it took Ed to dash upstairs, it was already winding down. He made a quick call to the local vet clinic, and was told to bring Holly in immediately; they’d be waiting for her.

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Two and a half years — and 27 grand mal seizures later — we’ve developed a routine around these events. Although it still takes a lot out of us emotionally — it’s a helluva thing to watch — we now remain calm. (For those of you who’ve never experienced a dog seizing, here’s a YouTube video to give you an idea of what it looks like. I’ve never had the presence of mind to video Holly’s seizures.)

When she drops, our eyes go to the wall clock or a wrist watch. Timing the seizure is important not just for your records (it’s imperative you keep a seizure log), but also so you can inform your veterinarian of duration, severity, and any other observations. When Holly’s seizures began, they ran roughly 15-to-30 seconds, followed by 30-60 minutes of disorientation, hunger, and thirst. Those after-effects are still in play, but now we’re unfortunately creeping up toward the five-minute duration mark; the mark that worries veterinarians and canine neurologists because a seizure that long runs the risk of literally frying a dog’s brain.

That’s why — at approximately the two-minute mark — I head for the drawer of pet medicine in the kitchen to retrieve a syringe of Valium prescribed by our vet. I insert the needle-less delivery end into Holly’s rectum and depress the plunger. Within seconds, she begins to emerge from the seizure.

That’s not where it ends, however.

Now we stay close to monitor how quickly (or not) she begins to react to our voices.  Response time to gentle commands is skewed, and she often staggers and falls if left on her own. (I sometimes put her on a short leash to keep her close by.) I immediately take her outside — she often needs to urinate again, and sometimes defecate — and then bring her back indoors. Because she burns a lot of calories during seizure, she’s always ravenous afterward. I don’t want her to bolt her food, so I give it to her in small amounts, in a bowl. DO NOT try to feed your dog by hand, as you will get nipped. It’s inadvertent on their part, but I learned this the hard way. Your dog is out of it mentally and can’t differentiate between your fingers and a hot dog.

As soon as possible, we wipe down her chest and rear end to get rid of the saliva and urine. (Bath time can wait, but usually follows within 24 hours.) Within a couple of hours, she’s back to “normal.” I put that in quotes because the truth is, normal becomes a very fluid thing. Each time there’s a seizure, we must reorganize our thoughts into accepting whatever the “new normal” becomes. Holly is a little diminished by every episode — slower at regaining a response to commands (or forgetting them entirely and needing to be retrained), a temporary (although sometimes hours-long) loss of coordination, a slight difference in personality that only those who live with her can pick up on. It can be frustrating — and heart-breaking — but as I learned when dealing with my mother’s dementia, you must accept them where they are, not where you’d like them to be.

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So let me share a little of what we’ve learned.

  1. Canine epilepsy comes in two flavors: symptomatic and idiopathic. Symptomatic epilepsy has a diagnostic root cause such as cancer, stroke, autoimmune disease, liver disease, low blood sugar, exposure to toxins, infectious disease, or congenital brain abnormalities like tumor. Idiopathic epilepsy (Holly’s version) has no identifiable cause. Although it may be inherited — certain breeds seems predisposed to the condition — this need not be the case. Research is ongoing.
  2. Seizures strike without warning or pattern. The dog is unconscious during the episode and experiences neither pain nor panic, even though their eyes are open and they may vocalize.
  3. Although your first inclination may be to hold your dog or touch it during the seizure, be extremely careful. If you must touch them, keep your hands to the rear of your pet. Keep your face and hands away from the dog’s mouth. They can, and will, bite … and because they’re unaware, they don’t automatically release. You can suffer a debilitating injury if not careful.
  4. If your dog has a seizure, see your veterinarian as soon as possible. If the seizure lasts more than five minutes or your pet experiences more than one seizure in a 24-hour period, seek emergency help immediately.
  5. There is no cure for canine epilepsy. Medication is a lifelong therapy whose goal is not to prevent seizures (that, sadly, is impossible), but to reduce their frequency and severity. Because these drugs are not “one size fits all,” it may take time for your veterinarian to determine the correct dosage/combination for your pet. And bear in mind that may change over time. In Holly’s case, we’ve used a variety of drugs and combinations. All have worked for a time, but only for a time before needing further tweaking.
  6. You will also deal with a plethora of drug side-effects, which might include lethargy, muscle weakness, anxiety, loss of appetite, vomiting, and periodic soft stool. Please note that anti-epileptic medication should never be discontinued without first consulting with your veterinarian. To do so could endanger the life of your pet.
  7. Be proactive. This is frightening, but knowledge is power. Make yourself part of your pet’s treatment team. Talk to your vet and/or neurologist and ask questions. They should be open and willing to discuss treatment options and any other concerns you have. (And if they aren’t, find new practitioners.)
  8. Do research, but be skeptical of anything or anyone that makes exorbitant claims. When in doubt, ask your veterinarian to weigh in. Under no circumstances should you pursue a course of treatment without first checking its validity with your pet’s doctor(s).
  9. Have your pet examined at least one a year for follow-up.
  10. Remember that your dog’s better days will likely outnumber the bad ones, so enjoy your time with your pet.

 

 

Teaching Moments

packys-eyeI had a thing happen today.

I follow several elephant-related sites on Facebook (yeah, I know; big surprise), as well as a few zoos. Recently, one of those facilities posted a short video in which a snake swallows a pinkie mouse. For those unfamiliar with term, “pinkie mouse” describes a particular size and age of feeder mouse–those live or frozen mice fed to reptiles and amphibians. Although I’d never seen a snake eat a mouse, the video didn’t particularly shock or bother me. I’m one of those for whom the grittier side of Nature holds a certain allure. I was the kid fascinated by close-up photos in National Geographic of lions devouring antelope. I’m the adult who (when the vet expressed my dog’s anal glands and the pus flew into her hair) fell over laughing … along with the vet, who is one of the world’s totally cool human beings.

 

Anyway.

I was a little concerned that there was no comment attached to the video warning viewers of graphic images. As I said, I wasn’t bothered, but I’m sure there are those out there who would be, and they should have the option to pass on such things, or go forward knowing what to expect. Not everyone is into Nature. (More’s the pity.)

I got a response from another viewer basically telling me to shut up (her words), and chiding me for being so sensitive that I couldn’t deal with a little Nature. I responded with a “No need to be rude” and explained that wasn’t bothered, but that some people might be. And that’s as far as I’ll go. I won’t respond to anything else, but it got me to thinking.

We each have a right to react to things as we do. Someone may well be squeamish over the visceral side of Nature, or even traumatized by it. (Honestly, they may have very good reason. My mother grew up on a farm and routinely saw her step-father kill newborn kittens by throwing them against the wall.) But if someone is having difficulty with something, why not embrace that as a teaching moment, a way to introduce them to another facet of the fascinating world we are so lucky to live in? Instead of castigating someone for being overly-sensitive, why not take them by the metaphorical hand and explain why things happen as they do? Opportunities are lost because it’s so much easier to offer up a ration of shit than it is to consider another’s position and go forward with compassion.

Who knows … somewhere down the line, you might actually turn them into a Nature lover. And wouldn’t that be wonderful? The more people who care about our world, the better our chances for saving it and the countless species that call it home.