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View Diary: Kitchen Table Kibitzing 4/15/2014: Birdhouse Cleanout (222 comments)

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  •  Yes, they are. (6+ / 0-)

    Maybe I was conditioned to think they're cuter by British children's stories, which I used to read many of. The foxes are gorgeous! I liked that water vole too. (Maybe I just like animals sitting in pipes? That sounds more like Glen the Plumber.)

    Thanks for pointing out the extra links!

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    by belinda ridgewood on Tue Apr 15, 2014 at 07:34:33 PM PDT

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    •  I can't help but wonder if (1+ / 0-)
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      belinda ridgewood

      the frank, fearless regard shown by so many of the British creatures I've seen in these and other pics might come from well-established, long-term, generally peaceful co-existence of these animals with the local humans.

      For example, I remember a PBS show on the 'Cheddar Man', a Neolithic (?) skeleton in a cave that has become a tourist attraction.  DNA testing proved that some of the village's male residents were descended from that man.  Isn't at at least within the realm of possibility that some of today's foxes, otters, voles around that village might have had ancestors in that area for centuries, if not millennia?

      Think of the difference between a raccoon photographed head-on in the wild with the 'Well?  You got a problem?' disdain in the eyes of a town raccoon when you turn on the light and open the back door to find him rooting through the overturned garbage can, and his scornful disdain as he turns and waddles away, bored by your commands and gestures and your futile broom.

      Or look at Hannelore Tepper's pics of her rescued feral cats:  The eyes of some of the cats still have that completely-feral look, while others have a look in their eyes that is different than that of a domestic cat and still has some of the qualities of the feral eyes, but is something different from either.

      The Brits love their natural spaces, and they love their wildlife -- witness the current upheavals over the badger-culls.  Is it not possible that centuries (or millenia), of neighborly relations has bred animals that are still wild, but with a 'wildness' that incorporates humans as another animal -- perhaps one with odd ways -- but a known neighborhood animal nonetheless?

      This may be why the British animals so often look as though they could speak; why their regard is more engaged, and less purely feral.  The raccoon sauntering away from your trash can has certainly been communicating with you, sometimes for several minutes, and even his leaving communicates his disregard of your outcries because he knows that, whatever you might say now, you'll be putting more food out for him in a few days, and there's plenty more where that came from.

      Just a thought.

      •  Hmm, I like your theory. (1+ / 0-)
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        This country is so big, it's only recently we've seriously crowded into wild animals' territory in a lot of places, whereas on that island, everyone's been living together for quite a while. That might be why their children's lit has so very many anthropomorphized-animal stories to begin with.

        A lot of non-western-European cultures have stories like that too; they probably live/d closely with feral animals as well. It's just we, who think every creature we don't directly control is to be shot or driven away, who are alienated from our neighbors. Sad. Thanks, CW.

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        by belinda ridgewood on Wed Apr 16, 2014 at 11:17:41 AM PDT

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        •  I agree, and oddly enough, even Poirot (1+ / 0-)
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          belinda ridgewood

          (first show of 3rd season, iirc -- I'm watching the entire series) grumpily commented to Hasting how in NYC, with it's straight streets at tidy right angles man controlled nature while here (the English countryside they were walking through) all is chaos.  Having the different relations to Nature in US vs England in mind, this startled me.  (This 2-hour episode contains many lush shots of 'domesticate' Nature at its glorious best in June-July, coming right up to the roadways instead of cut back as we do, so the English Countryside is shown as a constant, wonderful presence in English Life.)

          And yes, I also considered who the Euro settlement of this country -- still very recent, in the sweep of time -- came with the attitude that 'civilized' people (from countries which had domesticated Nature around settlements) entering into a 'hostile wilderness', where 'wild nature' was an enemy to be conquered and 'put to use', with any area not 'put to use' considered 'wasted' or 'wasteland'.

          That pic of 'Fox in Garden with Pigeon', even though the caption tells us 'Perching Pigeon safe from Predator', tells quite a different story.  The lush, but relaxed foreground garden, leading to the lawn which melts into the trees, has the badminton-net as a boundary  -- but not a wall -- between human space and Nature.  And the fox is not showing typical canine predatory behavior, with his upright stance and relaxed, tongue-lolling grin.

          I can well imagine the Peter Rabbit writer/artist (so sorry; can't recall her name right now!)  glancing out her window to see this scene, and stopping, with a smile, to watch this interaction.  And, if she had written about this scene, she would not have written about a fox on the hunt -- because the fox is quite plainly not 'on the hunt'.  She might well have written --

          'On a bright clear day in June, Mr Fox awoke in a very good mood.  "I think', he said to himself, 'that I'll take a quick trot 'round the neighborhood to see if anyone's left messages for me.'  And off he trotted,his mouth open to taste the wind.

          'Before long, his trotting brought him to Mrs. Edmond's garden, where he was pleased to see his old acquaintance Miss Pigeon sunning herself on a high perch.  'Why, good day to you, Miss Pigeon!' he said.  'I hope you and your offspring are doing well on this fine day.  What's in the wind?'

          'Too you, too, halooo,' replied Miss Pigeon, in her usual quite way.' . . ..

          Well, enough.  Thanks for listening.

          •  Ha! Beatrix Potter. (1+ / 0-)
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            If I am not mistaken, that was just the sort of thing she did. She was a girl from a moneyed family who was educated at home by a governess and spent the summers in the country, where she rambled about and sketched animals. I think you have completely got her number.

            I am always glad to listen to you. Please feel welcome in my diaries any time!

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            by belinda ridgewood on Thu Apr 17, 2014 at 10:52:13 AM PDT

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            •  Gosh, thanks, belinda! (1+ / 0-)
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              belinda ridgewood

              That's very kind!  Thank you!

              I saw, some years back, probably on PBS, a wonderful biography of Beatrix Potter, so I remember about her background, and how she worked in a quietly determined way against family/society rules of the time to choose her preferred future, and did so quite successfully.  I remember her lovely, cluttered workshop in her home, where she kept some small animals so she could use them as models, and all the sketches she made of (for example) her rabbits and ducks, so her depictions of their movement and gestures and expressions would accurately express their natures and personalities.  I was also impressed at how she married an 'inappropriate' man -- genuine love between them -- who actively supported her career.  And how, in later life, she used her earnings and her fame to protect the land she loved from destruction by development, so that those areas remain protected to this day.

              Quite a woman, and a very moving, encouraging story.

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