Happy birthday While browsing for someone to review as part of the Raid review weekend, Mona, of eyestar, notified everyone of other members' birthdays and anniversaries. When I saw that you were a true animal person, with your variety of interesting experiences, I couldn't resist the clarion call to contact you.
At the end of this email, I've included a link that will take you to a place on my website where I discuss a prior relationship with Paul Watson of the Sea Shepherd. Unless you're a glutton for punishment, feel free to ignore everything else and scroll down to the very bottom of the page. There you'll find a nice presentation of the former connection we had. I think you'll find it interesting. Not life-altering, but interesting nonetheless
I found your non-fiction piece on Buzz to be nothing short of exhilarating, chock full of exactly the kind of roller-coaster emotions and thoughts that accompany any well written animal story. Yours does not disappoint. I can tell from this one piece alone that I'd thoroughly enjoy all your stuff, and regret that time does not permit a more expansive exploration of all you have to offer. Then again, I'm not sure I could handle what would no doubt be an exhausting emotional experience, where we find that Buzz has lots of company when it comes to both our attachments and grief-fillled losses with respect to animals.
I particular enjoyed the personal touches that the dialogue adds to this piece. Instead of a more straightforward essay that merely explains an event in your life, you take us there -- almost too closely -- and make the work into a nice cross between fine fiction and documentary
Okay, so what's my beef? No pun intended. Okay, so I don't have any. Well, a couple, but they're almost as personal and subjective as your story itself. Maybe I'm too much the science guy sometimes, and not enough the naturalist. Or maybe I shy away from the emotional devastation that so often accompanies our human-animal relationships. I can see why Buddhism calls to you in this regard. Maybe I should be a Buddhist -- or a better one. Maybe we all should be
Such feelings are no more apropos than in today's world where the toll on wildlife is nothing short of apocalyptic. Humanity would do well to adopt a more atheistic approach to the world, for our lack of care-taking of Earth's fellow creatures will, by itself, otherwise doom us to God's wrath. If we're lucky, that is. And Earth herself doesn't exact revenge first. Sorry, didn't mean to go off on a rant there Can you tell I feel passionately about this stuff?
Okay, back to you
Anthropomorphization. I'm always on the lookout for when I can use that word It makes me feel like I know what I'm talking about. And impresses others that I even know how to pronounce it. The term, for better or worse, certainly applies in your situation, and represents the only criticism I would dare to make regarding your work. And even then, the quibble is largely nit picky, and worthy of mentioning solely and purely on intellectual grounds.
I explain myself in the following excerpts:
The big black bird fluffed "her" feathers and looked me directly in my eyes.
I'm not an authority on buzzards, so I don't know what the dimorphism is for that species. I know that for many birds, parrots for example, no discernible differences exist between male and female. So when you refer to Buzz (a male name) as if the bird was indeed a female, I'm left scratching my head a bit. Not a lot, but a bit nonetheless. If you'll allow my saying so, this could use a little more explanation. I think it would be helpful if you explained the reason why you used a gender-specific identity in this case -- or in others as well. Just for us naggy purists in the crowd
I guess you already know that buzzards and vultures are raptors and often kill for their meals. But eating carrion is easier.
In the line above, I thought of Buzz's dinosaur cousins. Predators like the carnosaurs around which (whom?) a degree of controversy exists regarding their feeding habits. Whether they were true hunters, or opportunistic scavengers. In Buzz's case, he was obviously both. Very interesting.
I felt exhilarated, having such an animal show me affection.
Okay, here's where I cringed a bit. If not more so. For those who aren't experts, they may get a false impression here, which I think is unfair to both Buzz and readers alike. I think the verdict is in on reptiles lacking mammalian emotions. Buzz would just have likely plucked your eyes out, given half the chance, if it suited her. I'm a victim of having seen too many documentaries which demonstrate that reptiles (and birds) are incapable of emotional attachments to humans. Food dependence is about as good as it may get.
I remember seeing a show about falconers who would be the first to tell you how, despite imprinting and the rest, they make the mistake, at their own misfortune, of believing -- for even one moment -- that the relationship between bird and human is anything more than mere convenience -- for the bird. It's as if birds view their human companions as roadkill, sparing them the chase. If that approach is far too Darwinian for you, I commiserate and share your misgivings.
"She poops on her legs because it is believed the urea sanitizes them. The dead animals she dines on are full of harmful
I loved this part, above. I didn't know that and, as with so many of these kinds of things, the information tells us so much about the wonders of nature, and how "she" makes the most of everything Gaea has at her "disposal". This was a perfect addition to this particular story. Notice that I have no qualms of anthropomorphizing the Earth itself
Buzz will always exist in my fond memories of animals passed.
No matter how one comes down on human-animal relationships, birds in particular, this would be true regardless. For me, it's as poignant as losing the most affectionate of mammals. There's an old saying that I can only paraphrase. It relates to extinctions, but applies equally to individual animal deaths as well. How, throughout the entire universe, they, it, he or she, came this way only once, and only here. In the deepest possible sense, there is a truth there that cuts, like a razor, through all the rest of it -- through all the rest of our petty comments and observations.
It is also why, except in those instances of culling or hunger, my contempt for hunters and hunting is boundless. But I digress once more and forget that this is about you And about someone who was no doubt a great friend. Even though she might have thought of it as more of an acquaintanceship.
Well, that's enough out of me. I hope my picayune notes were helpful in some way. Let me know if you felt they were valid, because your opinion would carry great weight with me.
Keep up the great work at telling us about your experiences. If you had something else of particular interest to you, where you'd like my dubiously professional opinion I'd love to know. Thanks.