So, there is no question that the world needs more elephants. The more the merrier, say I.
On the loose and living the good life.
Tanking up on fresh food.
Swilling up at the water holes.
Getting a mud bath on the muddy shores,.
Getting a dust bath in the dust fields.
And making a hellova lot more baby elephants.
And those elephants still alive (and – alas- they are getting easier to count) should be left alone by the vicious human beasts who slaughter them for fun and ivory.
An Elephant stampede would come in right handy.
Now, I’m partial to Elephants, having written a book of short stories where an elephant holds his own in conversations with God.
Yes, God gets a good talking to, though the Almighty does manage to give as good as He gets.
So, I’m all for WORLD Elephant Day.
In fact, I’d give them a whole Week.
Nay, a whole Month.
Alright, a whole Year!!
They’re BIG animals. They can handle it.
As fodder for a writer, I have had the good luck to have two murderers as neighbours. Well . . . almost. One committed his murder a month before he was to move in, the other committed his murder years after he moved out. But, still – it’s the spirit of the intent.
Murderer Two lived in the apartment directly across the hall from me many a long year ago, and committed his murder last year. With a knife. The other murderer used a knife, also. Small world.
While living across the hall from me, Murderer Two was often a cause of disruption. He was prone to parties with unruly and uncontrollable guests. I arrived home one afternoon to an event of screaming proportions occurring across the hall. I was within minutes of phoning the police when someone else did so. Police cars and vans appeared on the street and in the driveway. Ten to a dozen officers entered the raucous apartment. People in various states of inebriation and addiction were taken away. Murderer Two was found hiding in his closet. He did not return.
Last year Murderer Two was charged with the murder of his room mate. No party, though they were both drunk. He claimed self-defence, though the victim was stabbed twelve times. It was established stab number nine was the death blow. He was found guilty of second-degree murder.
Murderer One was a month away from moving into the apartment across the hall from me. He was going to replace one of the occupants moving out. One evening however, he visited the apartment past mid-night. He arrived in a taxi. He had a dispute with the taxi driver (over what, was never clear, but probably lack of payment). From the back seat he slit the driver’s throat and fled the scene. A couple of hours later other drivers of the taxi company were searching for him. His cab was spotted at two in the morning. The engine was still running.
I awoke at six to the sound of a huge engine on the city street. I looked out my front window and saw a police mobile investigation vehicle, engine running. Police cars and vans and an ambulance and a fire department vehicle were all present. Out my back window – in the driveway, was a taxi, police officers, and a body under a tarpaulin. The man had been killed four or five metres from me. I had heard nothing. The investigation took hours at the scene. The body remained. Mid-afternoon it was removed. The taxi was towed away. The fire truck was used to hose away the blood.
I had seen the murderer a few times before, visiting his friends next door. He was arrested in a restaurant kitchen where he worked as a cook. He reportedly had been drunk, had problems with a girl friend. But the exact reasons he was there that night, or why he murdered, were not revealed. He also was found guilty and sent to penitentiary.
II no longer live in that apartment house – but not by choice. It caught fire and was eventually torn down.
After a nine hour trip yesterday, I had aimed for, planned for, hoped for, to wake up as I pleased this morning. However, the crows had different ideas, and not too long after sunrise I was drawn unceremoniously into the new day. To my surprise – considering all the noise – there were only half a dozen roosting and hopping on The Crow Tree. Perhaps their promised gold was the golden rays of the sun.
At any rate, I re-post this Crow blog from a couple of years ago. I bet many of the crows are the same crows. Who has murdered sleep, indeed.
Crows leave The Crow Tree in droves, circle and return. They are clustered on the top branches with constant noise. More arrive.
Stark contrast on The Crow Tree. A ridge of black crows on top of the red and orange leaves against the blue sky. They keep circling.
The crow discourse on The Crow Tree seems to be over. Most have moved on and the few remaining are silent. I wonder what they decided.
At The Crow Tree, the rest is silence.
An hour ago my walk took me to a small park/garden across from a church. There are three benches, and I sit there often. Part way through my contemplations, a crow settled into the birdbath. A large crow and a birdbath that would not comfortably accommodate two crows. There had been a big rainstorm the day before and the birdbath was full.
At first I thought the crow was just drinking from the water. But, within a couple of minutes, he was splashing and cavorting and dousing himself in water from his active dance. Head to tip of tail and all feathers in between. A right good soaking.
Then, with a great shake and some flying sprays of water, he flew away.
I once received a post card from Auschwitz, saying: “Wish you were here.” From a friend with a ‘certain’ sense of humour. Yes, I know we choose our friends as opposed to our families, but I probably would have done the same. Irreverent humour is but one response to that which is beyond response.
As it was, the post card took me back to my university days, when I worked on a farm in Germany in lieu of getting into a Goethe Institute. Not particularly taxing farm work. I could relate the painting of apple trees or escaping from the midst of a herd of bulls after breaking my whip on one of their backs – but I won’t. If I ever get to my memoirs however . . .
After the farm I travelled through Germany and parts of Europe, mostly by train. One of my stops was Munich where, as often as not, I stayed in a Youth Hostel. And there I met the Jewish gal on her way to Dachau. She was from the US and not on a work experience as was I. Dachau was the specific destination for her.
She either borrowed postage stamps from me, or I from her – I don’t remember, though I know we exchanged them. We had the part of two days together (no – no nights) and then she was on her way. I don’t remember if she asked me to accompany her to Dachau, but I think not. Although I was going to Britain to visit relatives, I believe I would have taken that extra day.
As it was, we exchanged addresses and, upon our return to North America, we wrote letters. And, as it was, we arranged a visit to my New Brunswick home from her New England home. That was quite a leap for less than twenty-four hours together. I picked her up after dark at the closest airport. During the drive I stopped in the middle of forest for two hitch hikers. She must have been a bit concerned, but she said nothing. I remember the deep smell of pine from their clothes, as they had been working in the woods.
She stayed with my parents and I for four days (no nights there, either). She told me that when her mother was talking to her grandmother on the phone about the trip, she heard her grandmother bellow across the room “IS HE JEWISH?”
Thus does memory flow from a post card.
I don’t, alas, remember her last name (this being decades ago). At the time she was studying to be an air traffic controller. Whether she became one, and whither she went, I do not know. When I last communicated with her she was attending Brown University. She did not discuss Dachau with me.
Decades ago I spent two years writing nothing but short stories. It was one of the happiest writing experiences of my life.
In the midst of all this, I used this ‘short story’ that I adapted from memory from something read years before that. I have no idea where I originally read it. A Google search finds four results, all citing the original story but not saying where it originated.
It actually (to my memory) originated in the Concentration Camps during the Holocaust. Perhaps nobody knows its direct source.
However – here is the way I expanded and presented it.
In 1935, the Chancellor of Die Dritte Reich, Adolf Hitler, invited his friend, Benito Mussolini, and his adversary, Neville Chamberlain, for a quiet meeting in southern Bavaria. An old castle was put at their disposal, complete with acres of woodland and a small lake. During a break in the talks, Hitler invited his two guests to go fishing with him. It was a warm day, not too hot, but enough to make one feel drowsy. Chamberlain proposed a fishing contest to liven the occasion. They would see who could catch the most fish in a given half hour.
The others agreed, and the British Prime Minister went first. He sat calmly beneath a tree, fishing line trailing in the water. When his half hour was through, he had a respectable pile of fish beside him.
The next half hour was Mussolini’s, and he took full advantage of it. He dove headlong into the water, his arms outstretched, and started grabbing frantically at anything which swam past. After a hectic and wet half hour, he came out of the water and stood by his large pile of fish, grinning happily at Chamberlain.
The final half hour was for Hitler. He spoke into a telephone, and immediately bulldozers, heavy trucks, loads of pipe, and numerous pieces of equipment arrived. Hitler had the lake drained. Within twenty minutes there was nothing left but a muddy hole, filled with flopping fish. Hitler stood on the rim and looked down.
“Well?” asked Chamberlain. “Aren’t you going to get them?”
Hitler looked over to the Prime Minister with a cold, condescending glare in his eyes.
“They have to beg me first.”
Last night a bald eagle flew over the house, chased by a half dozen crows. I had heard the ruckus raised by the crows, but thought they were warning about a cat. How mistaken i was.
The eagle made a retreat in one direction, but shortly after made a more hasty retreat in the other. The crows had murder on their mind, even if they knew they could not accomplish the deed. But the eagle was not going to stay around to find out.
This put me in mind of an incident I have previously posted, which I again share.
This past weekend I was within three minutes of returning to where I am staying. This route takes me through an historic graveyard in the centre of the city. The graveyard encompasses two city blocks and is surrounded by a metal fence. One walks through a gate, along a cement path, and through another gate. The second gate is three minutes from my residence.
I was part way through the graveyard when I saw a group of people crowded together near the path. I assumed it was a group of youth, who often use the graveyard as a ‘park’. I assumed they were just hanging out, but I did keep an eye on them. When I was close enough I realized it was a film crew of seven or eight. They were clustered around a boom camera, one which can rise to a moderate height. As they were directly across from an historic cairn, I thought they might be filming some sort of documentary, and photographing the cairn. I passed them by, making a point not to gawk.
Just past the other gate I was about to cross the street. As I looked both ways for cars I saw, about five car lengths away, a bald eagle standing on the pavement. If one can not ‘literally believe their eyes’, this was the time for me. However, realizing it was there, I figuratively rubbed my eyes. It was standing stock still. I immediately thought it was a) stuffed and b) it was some sort of prop for that movie crew. Such is the imagination.
Within seconds the tableaux changed. The bald eagle started (or returned to) hopping around. And, now taking in more of what was before my eyes, I saw a crow overhead. The crow was diving at the eagle. Then, as quickly, I saw other crows in the sky, a half dozen or so. They were all circling and taking turns aiming at the eagle. The eagle started hopping around even more.
I do not know what had happened to make this encounter occur. Now I wondered if the eagle was injured. It was moving slowly and kept its wings folded. The crows were not (I assume – wisely) making contact with the big bird. They were, however, constant and raucous. The term “dive bombing” came to mind. The eagle became more agitated.
Without any effort (so it seemed) the eagle lifted into the air. This caused an increase in the vocal alarms of the crows. The eagle started a steady ascent toward the south, looking as magnificent as eagles are supposed to do. All the crows now circled continually, keeping their distance and cawing incessantly. The eagle was soon high above the tops of the trees. It made a slow alteration of course and headed toward the river, which is five blocks away from the graveyard. It kept gaining altitude and the crows kept pursuit. All the birds became too distant to observe.
As they all departed I heard a shout behind me. I turned in time to see the camera extended high, pointing toward the first gate I had entered. Within seconds a young man was running along the cement path through the graveyard. The camera lowered and tracked him until a voice shouted “Cut!” He stopped right in front of the Memorial cairn.
~ You calling my name?
~ You blowing that horn at me?
~ Getting your attention while I can.
~ You’re just the elephant in the room.
~ I won’t be much longer.