Book Review: Auspicious Animals, The Art of Good Omens by Jun’ichi Uchiyama

If you have ever looked at a Japanese silk screen print or sculpture and wondered what the cranes, monkeys or bears mean…this book is for you! I found this beautiful book in an art gallery and decided that, despite the hefty price-tag, I simply had to own it! This elegant coffee table book charts the artistic symbolism of animals in northern Asia with a particular focus on Japan and China. Each page is translated and in both Japanese and English.

Comforting Thought: Rough Diamonds

Abandoned sites and places that are not aesthetically pleasing can teach us a more sophisticated way of looking at the natural environment, not in terms of the picturesque, or even the care of which it has been tended, but with an eye upon ecological virility.

Book Review: The Secret Language of Animals by Janine M Benyus

An exquisite reference guide to the behaviour of animals, written without clinical distance but instead a warm, familial, empathic understanding of our sentient non-human cousins. Five stars.

Ancient Word of the Day: Maturun / Binturong

Binturongs, also known in English as bearcats, are long, stocky and heavy tree-dwellers with large bushy tails which they use to communicate. Strangely they have an odd but pleasant scent which people who smell them seem to enjoy – like buttered popcorn. Like all animals large and small they are endangered by palm oil expansionContinue reading “Ancient Word of the Day: Maturun / Binturong”

Comforting Thought: Hens are the goodness of the universe

This morning, a friend and I hung over the half door, watching a mother hen feeding her chickens. The hen bustled around breaking up the bread into crumbs small enough to feed her tiny, hungry offspring. The clucking sound she made was the essential sound of motherhood, the goodness of the universe was in thatContinue reading “Comforting Thought: Hens are the goodness of the universe”

Poignant Thought: The Wild Cows on the Island of Swona

In the mid-20th Century, on the remote island of Swona in Scotland, the Rosie family kept animals including a herd of cows. As the decades wore on, their children moved away and the elderly stalwarts of the family stayed on and eventually died there. Moving of the cattle from the island would have been tooContinue reading “Poignant Thought: The Wild Cows on the Island of Swona”

Book Review: Islands of Abandonment: Life in the Post-Human Landscape by Cal Flynn

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 Publisher: William Collins Books Genre: Non-fiction, anthropology, environmental science, natural history, animal rights. What happens when humans foresake and ruin landscapes? They are never truly abandoned. Instead they are engulfed by the non-human world and they become teeming with many other foresaken wild lifeforms. The weeds, plants, insects, birds and large mammals moveContinue reading “Book Review: Islands of Abandonment: Life in the Post-Human Landscape by Cal Flynn”

Comforting Thought: A cat represents our shared humanity during the worst of times

A cat represents our shared humanity during the worst of times Readers of this blog will remember I reviewed the biographical book about the doomed Karluk and her crew in the enthralling book ‘The Ice Master’ by Jennifer Niven. That book briefly mentions but doesn’t highlight the plight of the plucky feline on board namedContinue reading “Comforting Thought: A cat represents our shared humanity during the worst of times”

Ancient Word of the Day: Orangutan

Orangutan: n. Orang ‘forest’ hutan ‘person’ or forest person in Malay Orangutans belong to the great ape family, our closest biological relatives. This familial link is reflected in the word orangutan itself, which Malay speakers today can still recognise as deriving from the phrase orang hutan, which means “forest person”. This term goes back over aContinue reading “Ancient Word of the Day: Orangutan”

Ancient Word of the Day: Gibbon / Kebong

The word gibbon entered European languages through French in the 18th century. The French adopted it from the Malay word, kebon. However etymological research shows this Malay word originally came from a group of languages called Northern Aslian, spoken by indigenous communities in peninsular Malaysia. In Northern Aslian, it was probably pronounced kebong. Gibbons are a type of apeContinue reading “Ancient Word of the Day: Gibbon / Kebong”