human-animal bond

Sticks and stones and a pile of dirt

Standing on the river bank watching the inky black pool break and run free. I throw a stick in and the child with me throws one in as well. We watch them float down then spin out of the current. A perplexed look crosses her face, a wondering and an opportunity to play and learn – current affairs. We throw more sticks and observe them, describing what is happening nothing more. An urge to up the stakes and race, but what to do when that pesky eddy throws a reverse current into the mix. Stones enter the picture, there are plenty to choose from. But where to throw? How big? More experimentation and my young apprentice catches on quick. Making waves and calmly enjoying the rush of success. Wet feet and cold hands our reward and some hydrology terminology experienced.

Later a mountain of dirt in a field and some tame ducks with a dog who’s instinct to herd everything boarders on OCD. Two of them scramble up negotiating feathered and furry friends. Clumps of soil are picked up and hurled backwards and forwards like snow balls. Shouts and protests make way for tentative rules with animals being completely off limits. The sods are flying and the faces smiling as they quickly weigh up the line between dusting yourself off and mud in your eye. No-one is crying and the ducks seek shelter behind the scrambling legs and flailing arms. The dog is relentless. Friendships blossoming between all creatures. It’s messy and chaotic, perfect.

Gumboots discarded, they just fill up and slow you down another lesson in mass and inertia. Running free and feeling the earth beneath feet. Resting finally in a drain to pick watercress. This is how I remember learning and how I always wanted to teach.


Butt out of it

I have grown up with pets but I really am a cat lover. My cat Jack is easy to communicate with, he lifts his tail high in the air to greet me and if a cat does this to you it is quite a compliment. He kindly warns me as well if he is not in the mood, swishy-flicky tail. I have my own strange games that I play, silly voices and tricks. It’s a way of bonding and being with each other and yet I still respect his need to be cat like. If he brings in birds he gets congratulated and I quietly dispose of the corpse. I’m just glad he isn’t like other cats I know who bring in weta and stick insects I would not be so congratulatory.

Like all felines he has his favourite spots and routines, including waking at 5:30am on the dot even in the holidays. Cleaning is one of them and of course cats are very thorough when it comes to the nether regions. It might come as a surprise that animals are unashamedly naked all the time but should we really take offense? Well some apparently are and want to do a ‘hole cover up’ in order to maintain a sense of decorum. So we have butt bling for cats…what else can you say really. For a while I wondered about the practicality, like how to ‘attach’ the adorning jewels. Youtube answered that and I was relieved to find out no insertion was required. Sure it’s a bit of a fun gimmick and no-one will really take it seriously and I have no doubt the cats who don’t want to wear one will not have one on for very long.

But seriously leave animals in their natural state. If people have hang ups on body parts so be it but let’s not transfer our insecurities. And besides if you don’t want people to look, sticking something glittery and sparkly isn’t likely to help.

Playing along for a moment I think a dangling a big eye would be the best – brown of course.