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Saturday, April 19, 2014

Three Days in the Life of Bow's Plants

Bow and I were offline for three days. It happened like this. On April 15 during the day, we still had internet service. By evening we no longer did. On the morning of Wednesday  the 16th, I called our Internet Service Provider and was told that the modem had to be replaced, and they would be sending a new one by UPS which would arrive by Friday. It did not arrive on Friday. I called them again today, and they sent a technician who fixed everything by noon.

In the meanwhile, Bow and I passed three whole days in the company of each other, the dogs  and the plants. No Facebook. No Youtube. No email, and no news from the outside. So I concentrated on my offline writing and Bow's plants.

At first the plants were nothing but tiny little shoots.
I was still afraid it might freeze at night, so I would bring them in every evening and take them back out each morning. Bow declined to water the plants, and in every possible way he contrived to ignore them.

Here we are on April 17, taking the plants out again.

On Thursday, April 17, by the end of the day, the planter  looked like this.

The next day, on April 18, Bow studiously ignored the plants, while taking an interest in all sorts of other things.

It was a beautiful day, and  the birds were singing.

Bow was fascinated by the swing,  my key and trying to unlock one of the doors that led into the house, and he got very engrossed in trying to fix the bad zipper on my jacket. But he gave no thought to the plants.

By the evening of Friday, April 18, the plants looked like this.

Today was Saturday, April 19. I mowed the lawn in the morning, and I noticed, when I glanced briefly at Bow, that he was holding the planter in his hands and moving it to a different location. "Bow, what are you doing? Put it back!" I called to him. He looked a little guilty and moved the planter in the general direction of the southeast corner of the pen, but not right in the corner, snugly, the way I wanted it. When I went back into the pen I pushed it right into the corner. Bow continued to ignore the planter, as if he did not know that it existed. At least, he did as long as I was right there with him.

Around noon the technician came to bring us a new modem and to install it. He asked me if I had any dogs.  I told him two, but they were behind a fence in the back yard. "I also have a chimpanzee," I added. He seemed taken aback, but I assured him that Bow was in an enclosure and it was safe.

"You'll have to come say hi to him and tell him that you are here to fix our internet service."

Luckily, the technician had no problem talking directly to Bow, and Bow liked him right away. He only sat in a corner of the inner pen and rocked back and forth when the technician was busy working and not paying attention to him. But as soon as the man came by to talk to Bow again, Bow was happy.

After installing our new modem, the technician said goodbye to Bow. "This has been a once in a lifetime experience," he said as he left. He had never met a chimpanzee before. But Bow could not say the same, as he has met many technicians over the years.

Now that I had the internet working, I became immersed in catching up. But Bow wanted to go back outside. So I went out with him, but I left him for a moment, and from the corner of my eye, I could see him moving the planter as soon as I had gone.

When I came back in, I asked Bow: "Who moved the planter?" But he ignored me and paid more attention to Leo who was barking at him to get him to start playing. "Put the planter back in its place," I told Bow. He got up, picked up the planter, then set it back down in about the same spot without moving it much. I was not satisfied with this, so I asked him again. This time he made a real effort to get it kind of close to the corner. I accepted this as good enough and thanked him, and he grunted as if to say: no problem.

Bow's plants look like this today.

What does Bow think about his plants? I'm not sure. He seems to want me to think he is not thinking about them at all. But I bet he's thinking something. I just have no idea what!


  1. I wondered what you guys were up to, but I thought maybe you just were finishing up a book. Sorry to hear your Internet was down, but it sounds like you and Bow both had an interesting time offline. I am sure the technician was excited to see a chimpanzee. That must have made his mundane house calls more eventful.

    1. Hi, Julia. I did make a lot of progress on that book, too. It's amazing how much free time not being online leaves us.

      The technician really did have quite the experience, I am so used to Bow that I forget how exotic he seems to people who have never met a chimpanzee.

      Anyway, it's good to be back.

  2. Yes, we are glad you are back, Aya! I wonder what is Bow's issue with the plants. I find his behavior with them to be fascinating. By the way, what are the plants that are growing in the pot? They seem to be growing fast!
    Could the smell of them be something that offends him?
    He is definitely acting like a teenager who is reluctantly obeying your instructions *smile*.
    I was happy for the technician. Does Bow react differently to men than he does to women? I'm just curious - is there any protocol of which I should be aware before I meet Bow on Wednesday? For example, I know when meeting a shy dog that I should not look him directly in the eye (sign of dominance). I can't wait to meet him!

    1. Hi, Kathy. I am so glad to be back online.

      I think Bow is allergic to anything that even remotely looks like work. Also, he may resent the attention I am giving the plants. The other day when I watered them, he came up suddenly and insisted on drinking the water I was drizzling on them as it came out of the watering can. And I don't think it was because he was thirsty.

      Yes, Bow does treat people differently, based on lots of criteria. He is more gentle with the very young and the very old. He likes to wrestle with Lawrence, but he only ever grooms me.

      When you come to see him,. talk directly to him and not to me. Use a normal voice, not a high pitched one. He will be fascinated by what you have on, especially your shoes. He has a thing for shoes. If he sticks out his tongue at you, it means he likes you.

      Looking forward to your visit!

    2. Oh, and I forgot to say that those are pea plants growing in the pot. We used both pea and tomato seeds, but I don't think that any of the tomatoes made it.

  3. Thanks for the tips, Aya. I often hear you speaking in Hebrew to him on your videos. Does he also understand English - will he understand what I say to him?

    1. Bow understands both English and Hebrew. He speaks English with Lawrence.

      Here is a video that explains Bow's language and literacy skills and how they evolved: