Book Hippo

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Ape Awhile With Me

In the eighties and nineties, I became way interested in apes. Chimpanzees, Gorillas and Orangutans were the staple of my reading. I moved onto Gibbons and monkeys later. I think I became so captivated because apes have their own world. The women who observed them, (Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey and Birute Galdikas) made their lives stories that I could relate to.

Who hasn't known a Mike, for instance, the small chimp who used his brains to become top banana? It was this slant on their lives which made me see that the whole world is a habitat for something.

Apes and monkeys mostly lived in trees. Branches were pathways of their lives. They probably knew every twig and leaf of their environment. To me, trees were something for shade or something to look at and watch. To them, it was their world. They conducted their business up there and came down to the ground sometimes.

I only say that because all this time later I'm reading that Jane Goodall's community of chimps will be extinct in twenty years and it makes me sad that all those personalities will be lost. Most people just say, 'well, it's just an animal' but it is more, it's part of all. I think Jane Goodall's observations of baby rearing among chimps may well have proved that babies do better the more attention they get.

There's also the idea that they may evolve into something else and they should have the chance to do so. That's nature and natural. So here's hoping that soon people will want to have apes and monkeys alive and pursuing their interests. Here's wishing that something can be done about the vanishing forests and animal lives.

Before that pathways all fall silent.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Inuit Drugs

I don't understand numbers all that well and they don't make me get emotional. Therefore, when someone gives me a number, say, ten thousand killed in earthquake, it often doesn't compute of affect me that much.

Now that's a terrible thing to admit but I will explain. If someone were to go into the area of the earthquake and talk to the people, who would tell their stories of a child disappeared, then I would get an image of sorrow and it would become immediate to me.

In the ninties, I had a neighbour who was an Inuit. He used to tell me that he'd made himself employed by started a translating service. Now that Nunavit was a territory run by Inuit people, there were a lot of Inuktitut speakers and all the reports were done in that language.

So he came to Ottawa, where he happily translated the reports into English and French and took reports to be sent to Nunavit and put them in Inuktitut. I asked was there much competition and he told me he was the only one doing this so had great job security. The government wasn't going away.

He told me other things, too. With great passion and upset he told me that when he goes back to the arctic how ten year old Inuit children would come up to him asking if he had any drugs he could sell them. This bothered him so much and he could be on the verge of tears when talking about it.

It made me see how communities of indigineous people have been affected by 'us'. The white people. Not me directly but the whole process of taking them away from their traditional values. I have heard it said that in the old days, no Inuit child would think of talking back or disobeying an elder. Benefits of civilization?

So maybe I shouldn't feel too bad that someone telling me 80% of Inuit are into drugs or some other such number doesn't make me sad or even get in my head. Not like my neighbour. I still think about what he said today and become as sad as him. Perhaps someday things will improve up there.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Hot Weather

It's hot today. It was hot yesterday, and the day before. Good, right? Yeah, we have our fans on all the time and don't go out when the sun is high in the sky. It's great. Finally.

I do have to say, that I wouldn't like it if it was any hotter. Like in a tropical country. There are all sorts of strange and scary bugs that come out in tropical countries, and all sorts of diseases that we just don't have here in the north.

I've always considered myself lucky that I don't live anywhere near big, big snakes that eat people, squeezing them to death or biting them. There really isn't anything living in Canada in the category of 'creepy' that kills. Well, I know in Alberta and BC there are rattlesnakes but nowhere near any of the towns.

And of course there are bears, but bears aren't creepy. They're big and powerful and you can hear them a mile away. You don't stand a chance of stepping on them.

The worst things in Canada, I guess, are the plants. Even animals have trouble with them. I know cows will sometimes eat a plant that looks like a plant they like and keel over dead. It's something they warn you against eating when you go out into the forest. In fact, they don't want you eating anything at all if you don't know what it is.

I've always lived by that rule when I was out camping but it fooled my once when I was camping right by a huge blueberry patch without recognizing the berries. After I found out I was in that patch every day.

But still I never ate anything when I didn't know what it was. Another thing they have in Canada is leeches. They get on your body when you're swimming and if you want to get them off you have to light a match and hold it to their head. Otherwise they'll leave their jaw in your leg if you pull them off. The heat makes them let go.

So I guess I'm fortunate. No pythons or fire ants, nothing to give me nightmares. Only the weather when the snow is deep and you can't go more than four blocks without fearing frost bite. So when I go out in this nice, hot sun I'll think how good I have it.