National Geographic. 16May 2019/jga
by Jan Godown Annino
Marjory Stoneman Douglas sat in my living room when she told our
book group that she was flummoxed by people who couldn’t control
the urge to insert themselves into the wild.
As I remember, the words from MSD that have guided my expeditions since went something like
– After all, isn’t the wild the only place wild creatures have to live naturally? Why go and spoil it for them by your being there? And believe
me, even if well-intentioned, people in wild places can ruin it for the animals.
Marjory Stoneman Douglas wasn’t talking about scientists conducting research.
Or about preserve staff on regular patrol or other duties.
She was thinking of folks taking their entertainment from inching as close as possible to wild animals as the exquisite creatures fed, mated, gave birth, took care of young, simply wandered or rested.
This is different from a wandering wild beast crossing your path unexpectedly as you
amble in your basic park or your own field or even your yard.
Gary Larson’s Far Side cartoons got the people intrusion from the animal perspective just right. Here is letter to the universe from him –
And this is a url to his The FarSide postings on twitter.
Having already inserted myself into the wild by walking two mountains – Katahdin in Maine and LeConte, which borders Tennessee and North Carolina, Marjory Stoneman Douglas, whose environmental credentials made her a lioness of advocacy, changed my view during that visit. National, state and local parks became gloriously wild enough for these eyes and feet, without my needing/wanting to access more wilderness zones where the animals likely didn’t need me there.
I understand the photo safaris support conservation in many important habitat parks around the globe. I am talking only about my path choices, after hearing MSD.
I also like to direct animal lovers’ attentions to captive exquisite animals bred and housed humanely.
And most accessible to all, I read lyrical books about animals to children, such as the poetry in the very topical, timely & eloquently clever
Dear Wandering Wildebeest.
Here is the Letter to the Editor I sent after the #CeciltheLion news.
“Please go and find a copy of a new book about animals sharing a waterhole in Africa, by Alabama children’s author Irene Latham, with pictures from British artist Anna Wadham.
The title is Dear Wandering Wildebeest. Among the opening lines are the words –
oxpecker and lion.
This water hole is yours.
If future dentists and gynecological oncologists learn poetry for children about lions, wildebeests, giraffes, rhinos and other exquisite animals that deserve existence, it’s possible that future grisly outcomes U.S. medical professionals have visited upon the wildlife population in Zimbabwe, can be reduced.
And if you would like to learn more about writing beautifully for young readers, please attend the Sept. 26, Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators’ workshop (10 a.m. – 3 p.m., fee $75) with award-winning local author Adrian Fogelin, at Uptown Café, 1325 Miccosukee Road. Look for registration details to be submitted later, to this newspaper’s calendar.
Jan Godown Annino”
My local newspaper publishes most of my letters so this may be in print and online, soon.
Dear Wandering Wildebeest pages (book borrowed from LeRoyCollinsLeonCounty Public Library)
Another important advocate, Anne Rudloe, scientist, poet, professor, was co-creator of Gulf Specimen Marine Laboratory. She wrote Butterflies On A Sea Wind. My copy escapes me on my shelf search as I write this, or I would quote from it. But she once said-
“Protecting the earth gives meaning and wholeness and a sense that you are contributing to a greater good.
This earth should not be allowed to disappear.
Now it is your turn.”