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Posts tagged ‘Squirrel’

Brother Sun, Sister Moon

Imagine if you will a real-life, modern-day Saint Francis – not all the high-born and father didn’t like his name stuff, but the animals part.  The friend to all creatures, critter-whisperer.  That Saint Francis.  Well, here’s the thing.  I know this man. This latterday guardian of all living things.  All living things except humans which might be construed as a crucial difference between this man Frank and the Assisian original.

In fact Frank is of the opinion that there are far too many of us human varmints jostling and barging one another through life, and that instead of dwelling on our own selfish needs we need to protect our planet for those that have no voice and no means to halt the uninvited destruction of their world.  I imagine his sentiments are perceived at best as highly eccentric and at worst with a great deal of suspicion by many.  But much of what he quietly iterates resonates with me.

I had heard much of Frank before I met him.  I knew that he had a squirrel whom he had nursed back from injury and who he had recently discovered was in fact Josephine rather than Joseph.  She has the run of his backyard now that she is fit and hale again but during her long convalescence had a tree, a full sized tree, in the house to be her natural squirrelling self in.  And for the avoidance of doubt, the house is a modest house, in an ordinary street not a gaspingly vast mansion.  She is a cared for and nurtured squirrel and he files her claws regularly since she is not scampering around a wide-open space as she would have been had she not succumbed to a speeding car in the particular suburb of Boston that she lives in.  His next door neighbour is a Dental Surgeon and he has asked him to make braces for Josephine’s teeth since he worries that her fang-angle is becoming an issue.  Not cosmetically, you understand but rather in terms of her ability to gnaw gustily.   Excited to meet this tiny mammal saviour, I had rehearsed my appropriate conversation opener.  Donning my most charming and inclusive smile, I commented that I had heard all about his squirrel and that in fact my mother is called Josephine.  He stared hard and with undisguised mild alarm and softly murmured ‘Your mother?  Is a squirrel?’   Seldom lost for words, my powers of pithy response evaporated and the previously alluring smile froze unbecomingly on my nonplussed face giving me a distinct air of rampantly and irreversibly imbecilic.   It turns out that there really is no comeback from the disquieting visual of your mother become rodent.

Most people discourage mice in their homes.  Frank calls them ‘the little people’ and actively ENcourages them by leaving all their favourite treats in prominent places.  He doesn’t shoo them off the table but rather invites them to share his plate.  I do not have a word powerful enough to describe what a peace-loving soul Frank is.  Strange certainly but bloodless and I feel remarkably tranquil simply writing of him.

Frank is companion and protector to all animals.  He is their true and unwavering friend.  He does not do this in the name of anybody’s God but simply because he can and he wants to.    Surely that is what true friendship should be based in.  Love, decency and kindness.  This little traipse into the world of Frank is prompted by the Weekly Photo Challenge dubbed Friend.  You can potter through the superabundance of delights here, and in honour of Frank and Josephine here are two plumptuous Squirrels partaking of the feasts I put out daily, when I’m in residence,  for their delectation in our Massachusian backyard.

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PS:  The title is stolen from Zeffirelli’s 1972 film of the life of Francis of Assisi, ‘Brother Sun, Sister Moon’ which in turn come from Saint Francis’ own praises for all creatures written when he was very sick himself.  I reproduce a little excerpt here because, despite not being of his faith, I am of the belief that a beautiful piece of writing should be celebrated simply for being a beautiful piece of writing, not tainted nor tarred with prejudice, nor owned exclusively by one self-elected sector of society.  Simply embraced and cherished.  Like friendship.

Praise be to Thee, my Lord, with all Thy creatures,
Especially to my worshipful brother sun,
The which lights up the day, and through him dost Thou brightness give;
And beautiful is he and radiant with splendor great;
Of Thee, most High, signification gives.

Praised be my Lord, for sister moon and for the stars,
In heaven Thou hast formed them clear and precious and fair. p. 153

Praised be my Lord for brother wind
And for the air and clouds and fair and every kind of weather,
By the which Thou givest to Thy creatures nourishment.
Praised be my Lord for sister water,
The which is greatly helpful and humble and precious and pure.

Praised be my Lord for brother fire,
By the which Thou lightest up the dark.
And fair is he and gay and mighty and strong.

Praised be my Lord for our sister, mother earth,
The which sustains and keeps us
And brings forth diverse fruits with grass and flowers bright.

And for your bonus,  Donovan sings the title song he wrote for the movie:

‘Brother Sun and Sister Moon, I seldom see your tune – preoccupied with selfish misery’ ….

We might be minded to take that line to heart, do we think?

From Russia With Love, Part 14: My fate is to see everything and take it so much to heart

The full sentence in the title is ‘And why is it, thought Lara, that my fate is to see everything and take it so much to heart?’  Pasternak’s Lara, of course in Dr Zhivago.  My father first saw David Lean’s masterpiece film of the book that he had read some time before, in a tiny cinema in Andermatt (Swiss Alps) in February 1966.  He reported that his nose and his toes were cold throughout.  He was wearing gloves and a bobble hat.  I was only 5 at the time so I didn’t see it until much later in the comfort of our drawing room and was I captivated.  The book I read soon after.  The story set the bar for the Russia that I wanted to find.  The politics, the literature, the love, the soul.  I waited what, had I been told I must, at the age I was then, would have seemed an impossible time to visit for the first time (for I am quite determined to go again and see far, far more of this vast and extraordinary place) and she didn’t disappoint.  Not even slightly.  I loved the people, as I knew I would. I love their relationship to art and dance and literature and science and intellect. It is quite captivating.  Their frankness, their ability to feel to the depths of their soul and not be ashamed of feeling so.  To be able to laugh and cry willingly. It is quite beautiful and at odds with the image of the stony faced, ice-eyed KGB torturer of cliché.  We went and we scratched the surface and we returned home a little changed. As you always should be when you have seen something and taken it to heart.

Here are my best bits – each one a character in the little story of my stay:

 

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And some of me enjoying my favourite bits:

 

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Za zdorovje!

Za zdorovje!

 

PS:  At lunch in the summer with local friends back home, we were assaulted with a barrage of the most appalling and misinformed propaganda gleaned from stories on the internet.  Drivel it all was but the venom with which it was thrown at us left us breathless with rage.  Politics is politics the world over and the globe is an increasingly small place but to tar a population with a filthy brush based on no more that what you have read is quite quite wrong.  In any language.