WRITING SHORT: 4/50

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[Come summer heat, much of my blogging momentum melts away. Hence an experiment until Labor Day: fifty minimalist posts about whatever.]

As long as I’ve known him, Bill has enjoyed televised nature programs. Me not so much. They’re almost always about strange birds in equatorial countries, animals struggling to reproduce and survive among predators, inhospitable areas of earth where indigenous men take prodigious risks to feed their families. So we used to trade off: a program for him, a program with more narrative thrust for me. This worked well because we both enjoy holding hands while watching, which usually trumped choice of what to watch.

Now as I grow older, Bill’s programs have become more difficult for me. I’m aware of what’s almost certainly coming. If it’s about northern wolves, a large starving bear will seize a wolf cub when its mother leaves to seek food. The cub is just a fluffy puppy really, tumbling about happily in his snowy new world. Why must he be mortally pierced  by those fierce fangs? Sometimes they also show you the blood on the snow, a shot of the bereft mother. “How can you stand it?” I demand. “I don’t look,” says Bill. “But that’s  life.  And the photography’s wonderful.”

Last night a sea lion on an iceberg in Antartica was hunted by a school of killer whales. The whales used teamwork to break up the iceberg till the sea lion was clinging to a scrap of ice. Then one whale caught his tail in its jaws. The camera focused directly on the face of the doomed sea lion being pulled backwards into the icy waters to what it must have known was its own sure death. From now on, Bill will have to admire his wonderful nature photography alone.

I know that’s life. I also know whose death it really is the thought of which I cannot bear.

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15 thoughts on “WRITING SHORT: 4/50

  1. I don’t like the ‘red in tooth and claw moment’s either, but the vast majority of nature programmes are about our very beautiful planet and the amazing inhabitants on it. Last night we watched the most soothing possible programme about the river Shannon. The narrator simply paddled his canoe the whole length of the river, filming, for a year. It was quite extraordinarily beautiful and very like meditating. Attenborough is usually very good value too.

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    • I would love to see a soothing program about a river, Hilary. Unfortunately, all the BBC’s nature programs in the States seem to appear on public educational television stations and the two I’m most familiar with — Channel 2 in Boston and Channel 13 in New York — seem to incline towards the tooth-in-claw ones, or towards others that, for example, show us natives destroying their lungs to mine sulphur for a mere $5 a heavy double load, etching shallow notches into an impossibly high thin tree as they climb barefoot to the top, shallow notch by shallow notch, in order to garner honeycomb for their children waiting on the ground below (and get horribly bitten in the process). They — the channels — must know their American audiences. Even the Attenborough ones I’ve seen are studded with shots of darling baby birdsongs being snatched from their nests by hungry predators. I guess I’m not the typical American viewer; I’m too much of a sissy to take it. 🙂

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