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Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Bow the Conservationist

The logging continues, but Bow and I are finding ways to ignore it and get on with our lives.

Bow leafs through an issue of the Missouri Consevationist
Yesterday, for instance, Bow watched the loggers for a while without getting too upset. and then he led me in an exercise session indoors.

The loggers are here in the morning, but they leave long before noon. So when I go for my afternoon walk, all is calm, and I can enjoy the wildlife. 

Yesterday, I got to watch a leaf fall from the sky, a common buckeye butterfly resting on my path, and two different groups of deer.

Some deer bound away at the first sight of me, and others stare at me long and hard.

This morning, Bow was so accustomed to having the loggers around that he let me go to the post office to mail off some bills and to buy new stamps. I chose the stamps featuring Monarch butterflies.

When I got home, Bow had been good. No accidents, no mess. So I showed him the stamps I had bought. Later he asked me to go out, saying he'd heard the loggers had food. (שמעתי שיש להם אוכל). I went out expecting to see the loggers eating sandwiches. But instead I spotted the twin fawns, nearly grown, taking shelter near the house. 

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

The Logging Continues

For the past three days, the loggers have been cutting down trees close to our property line. They start at seven in the morning, when we are not quite done with breakfast, but they are gone by noon. This has been tough on Bow, but I have tried to let him know that since the logging was taking place outside our borders. the people cutting down the trees have every right to do so.

What makes this especially hard on us is that the house does not sit in the center of our ten acres. It sits far back from the road and very close to the woods. The woods were a buffer for us, and they helped to give us that secluded feeling that characterizes our corner of the world .

Of course, I realized when I bought the property that my part of the woods was very shallow, and I inquired who owned the rest of the woods, and whether there might be a possibility of buying a part of the woods adjoining mine, so as to have a bigger buffer. At the time, the property was owned by the venerable matriarch of a well established local family. She explained to me that the woods were not for sale, as they had been in her family for a long time, and she was leaving them to her grandchildren. She also reassured me that there was nothing to worry about, because while the family would cut down some trees occasionally, to thin out the forest, avoid wild fires, cull out dead wood, and so on, they were not planning to substantially alter the woods.

I hope that is still the case, but she has since passed on, and it is now the new generation who is in charge. I remember her fondly. She was very kind to me and to Bow and Sword.

The neighboring woods used to extend all the way to our fence line, but as early as 2013 I had observed that a clearing had been created between the two properties, and now a dirt road was there just outside our border. This road is now being used to carry the logs out of the woods.

Bow keeps asking to go outside so that he can observe the loggers.

However, since he seems so upset by what is happening, I have asked him to stay indoors today. Yesterday, I baked lemon poppy seed muffins as part of my effort to distract Bow.

Poppy seed Muffins and Books by Aya Katz
We were reminded of The Lorax, and we reread a small part of it. No, I am not a tree hugger. Yes, I realize we live in a timber town, and I know trees are logged for a living and regrown. I am hoping, though, that the basic layout of the woods here will not change drastically, because it would leave Bow exposed to a lot of noise if there were no woods there any longer. Bow's outer pen is behind the house, and it faces the woods. That's why the current activity back there is such a concern for Bow and me.

Monday, November 6, 2017

The Loggers Next Door

This morning, things have not been so peaceful. Ever since breakfast, the neighbors next door have been logging on their section of the woods next to ours. They have every right to do this, but Bow has been very upset about it.

Bow asked me to go outside to see what was going on. I came back with this picture.

Bow would periodically go outside, display at the loggers, then come in and  ask me to go out in the front yard to spy on them.

He kept asking me to go check what they were doing out there, even though I assured him it was not on our property. "It's okay, Bow. They have the right to do that."

Bow spelled: "זה רק שזה רע"  Meaning: "It's just that it's bad."

I didn't know what to say. Maybe I read him The Lorax once too many times when he was little.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

The Fifth of November

Today the clock was set back, and Bow was annoyed with me for not getting up at the usual time. By 5:30 am he was vocalizing loudly, even though it was still dark.

The day was warm. Somebody online reminded me that it was Guy Fawkes Day. Bow wore no mask, although a few days earlier, just before Halloween, when we had our first big freeze, he had  looked a little like jedi master when he greeted me that morning.

Today, we spent a lot of time outside in the outer pen. Bow groomed me, and then I groomed him.

Then we went indoors, but Bow did not want to groom anymore. He just asked for a drink of water, which I promptly provided. It's all so undramatic at our house. Elsewhere in the universe, somebody shot a church full of people -- in Texas! But that's not what happened for Bow and me in the pens.

Sometimes we do hear the neighbors shooting, but that's to do with deer season. However, no one is shooting at the deer on our land, and, for the time being, they are perfectly safe to graze on the front lawn, in plain view.

If only the rest of the world could be as calm and peaceful as our little corner!

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Playing Tag and Tit for Tat

Yesterday, I started out to clip Bow's nails. but he wanted to play chase, instead. So I decided to film our game of tag, and in the process, I forgot that I was still holding onto the scissors. So it turned out I was running with scissors, something you should never try at home!

I am probably not the best person at interpreting body language, but just as I insisted that Bow learn to spell out what he wants, he has always insisted that I should also try to read his body language. Over the years, even though I may still seem obtuse to Bow, I believe that I have gotten better at reading simple non-verbal cues -- not just Bow's. I have gotten better at paying attention to those things in humans, too.

Bow is a gentle playmate who is perfectly harmless if you respect his personal boundaries -- and if you insist that he respect yours. But most of that is not something we do with language alone. Yes, saying "no" when you don't like something is important, but if you don't back up that "no" with immediate action, then nobody -- least of all Bow --will take it seriously.

This is something that I found really difficult to explain to many interns, and it is one of the reasons I am reluctant to advertise an opening for an intern and caretaker for Bow. People have not been trained in the simple rules of tit-for-tat, and so they expect other countries not to invade them out of the kindness of their hearts, other people not to harass them just because it is not nice, and everybody to act PC -- or else, they will get a lecture ten years later about how they really hurt someone. And if they find that this does not work for them -- which invariably it doesn't -- they hold seminars and workshops on world peace, sexual harassment and anti-bullying.

No bully will ever be stopped unless we stand up to him right then and there, in the moment, and no rape was ever prevented by crying foul long after the statute of limitations has run. I'm sorry, but life does not work that way.

With Bow, as with every other person I know, you have to let him know right away if he's crossed a line. He respects boundaries, but you need to clearly signal where they are. If he does something you don't like, you have to respond strongly, but firmly, neither over-reacting nor just letting it happen. I tried to explain some of this to my interns years ago in this hub:

Right now, in the current political atmosphere, I do not feel I can impose the rules outlined above on anyone who has been socialized to fit in to today's society. Most people have been trained to submit to a violation of their boundaries, and then to complain about it afterwards. This policy leads to an escalation of the initiation of aggression over time throughout the society. When I try to speak out about this, I am shut down on social media.

I think maybe the problem goes all the way back to kindergarten. Everybody knows the Golden Rule, but it is being taught all wrong to American children right now. They are told to treat others in the way they would like to be treated, but they are not told what to do if others do not treat them that way. The tit-for-tat part has been left out. Here's how it was taught to me. When I was going off to kindergarten in Israel, my mother said to me:  "If anybody hits you, Aya,  you hit them right back -- only harder." I didn't particularly want to. I'm not a violent person. But she explained that it wasn't about what I wanted. She said it was my duty as a good person, because it would help other people, too. If everybody lived by this rule, I think it would save us all a lot of trouble.

If you nip aggression in the bud, it does not have to escalate. You have to react in real time to any small breach of your personal boundaries. At the same time, it is more than okay to engage in appropriate play, where you recognize friendly overtures. Bow loves to play tag, and you can watch the video and see the light way in which he does tag me, and you can see from his body language that he knows it's a game.

  Bow is a chimpanzee. He does have aggressive instincts. He's a natural bully, but he is also really easy to manage, and a joy to interact with, if you understand and properly apply tit-for-tat.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Grooming as Peace-Making

Yesterday afternoon,  while I was saying goodbye to Sword, who had come home for a visit for Fall Break, Bow rearranged the potties in his enclosure, putting both of them in the center of the room.

"Put them back where they belong!" I told him.

So then he proceeded to push each of them into the opposite corner from the one where it had been before, as if in an act of oppositional defiance.

I wasn't really angry about that, but I acted as if were very upset about it. "No, that's not where they go! You put them right back where they were!" So he did. (He knew exactly where they were supposed to be.)

After that, he tried to apologize to me, and then he decided to groom me very thoroughly. The noises he was making at the very beginning of the grooming session were part of his apology.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

A Persimmon for Bow

It is fall. The leaves are changing colors. 

And the persimmons are ripening and falling to the ground.

Many other animals are enjoying the persimmons, but I managed to snag one for Bow.

They say you should wait until after the first big frost to harvest the persimmons, but we have not yet had our first frost, and they are almost all gone. I see their seeds scattered on the road embedded in  animal droppings. And this one was so ripe that it split open and some of the juice dribbled on my hand.

Bow enjoyed the persimmon so much that this is all that was left of it in the end.

I'm glad we did not wait for the first frost.