Saturday, February 18, 2017

how startling

You'll never believe what I saw on my way to work.
I could hardly believe my eyes.
I actually cried out in surprise.
There it was silhouetted against the gray sky near the top of a giant tree.
Way, way, way up in an old cottonwood..
Too big for the branch it huddled on, it nervously waved a paw in the air as if trying to flag down help.
Call 911.
Call the Fire Department.
Call the SPCA. 

It was a raccoon.
A very tense raccoon, clutching a branch high overhead.
It looked so out of place.
A big round ball of fur like an oversized Christmas ornament.
The branch it clung to seemed fearfully small.
What would have made a full grown raccoon climb for its life.
No dog in sight.
No people.
My car sped on but the raccoon remained firmly fixed on memories big screen.

That evening, the news reported a missing wallaby in the Langley area. A pet wallaby from the other side of the world.
It apparently hopped away.
Sprang off into the unknown.
How startling for our native wildlife.
To be ambling along, nibbling here and sniffing there to glance up at approaching footfall. Bounding footfall.
Stranger danger!
A tall tree could seem a necessity.

Friday, February 10, 2017


Before there was Google Translate, there was Giuseppe Mezzofanti, chief Vatican librarian, who could fluently speak 50 languages and translate 114 more. Wow! And I can't even read both sides of a cereal box. That wouldn't have held back Sir John Bowring. He, a British governor of Hong Kong, could speak 100 languages and read 100 more. Owed it all to his dictionary collection I bet.  Mind you, what's not to love about dictionaries, words rolling off your tongue, foreign and unknown. They were some of my favourite books when I was young. I especially loved the lists of words arranged by grade level at the front of the World Book Encyclopedia Dictionary, A-K. Vocabulary and spelling from Grade One to College were there, tantalizing and tempting. Words, wonderful words. And of course I loved the Merriam Websters Dictionary, wedged in my desk. Loved its small sketched illustrations too.

I've been savoring two delicious reads of late.
May I recommend Native Tongues by Charles Berlitz. If you love trivia you'll adore this book. Everything you ever wanted to know about language is there for your edification and entertainment.
And I've also been reading Landmarks by Robert Macfarlane. He is brilliant and poetic and completely captivating. He refers to at least ten authors whose books have inspired his own writing and they have been added to 'the list,' along with his other works, The Old Ways, The Wild Places, Holloway, and Mountains of the Mind.

Hay alegria en el aprendizaje!!