Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Story of a Manatee

I just read a delightful book titled J. Rooker, Manatee, written by Jan Haley and illustrated with paintings by Paul Brent. This is a children's book, based on a true story about a Southwest Florida manatee who is injured, then rescued, rehabilitated, then returned to the wild. He is named J. Rooker because he was rescued near Rookery Bay National Reserve near Marco Island, Florida.

Manatees are marine mammals who can live in salt water or fresh water. They are docile plant-eating, air breathing animals, who communicate with each other with high-pitched squeals. They are socialble creatures who nuzzle each other and embrace with their paddle-shaped flippers.

Although a Florida Manatee Sanctuary Act was established in 1978, more and more of the manatees' natural habitat has been destroyed, and the slow moving mammals are often mangled by sharp boat propellers in waterways and lagoons. The death rate of manatees has outnumbered the birthrate for years.

The Save the Manatee Club was established in 1981. The Adopt-a-Manatee program is the major public awareness effort sponsored by SMC. Click on the link below for more information about the Adopt-a-Manatee program, a perfect idea for the holidays!


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Johnny Mercer, Happy Birthday!

Johnny Mercer was born November 18, 1909, in Savannah, Georgia. Today is the 100th anniversary of his birth, and I've been humming Skylark all day long, one of the most beautiful, melancholy songs I know.

Skylark, have you anything to say to me?
Won`t you tell me where my love can be?
Is there a meadow in the mist
where someone`s waiting to be kissed?

Skylark, have you seen a valley green with spring
where my heart can go a journeying
over the shadows and the rain
to a blossom covered lane?

And in your lonely flight
haven`t you heard the music in the night,
wonderful music,
faint as a will o` the wisp, crazy as a loon,
sad as a gypsy serenading the moon.

Oh, skylark, I don`t know if you can find these things
but my heart is riding on your wings.
So if you see them anywhere
won`t you lead me there?

- Johnny Mercer

The movie, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, from John Berendt's book, was set in Savannah, and if you've seen the movie, you've heard a beautiful, haunting version of Skylark, performed by k.d. lang.

Mercer also wrote I'm an Old Cowhand From the Rio Grande! Now, that's an accomplishment worth noting!

And another haunting song, Moon River, which more or less served as the background music of my entire teenage and young-adult life, was composed by Johnny Mercer and Henry Mancini in 1961.

Back to Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil: I just discovered that on the sound track of this movie, That Old Black Magic was sung by Kevin Spacey, who is one of my favorite actors and who starred in the movie.

I think I'll have to watch this movie again! The only part I don't like is the weird fellow with bugs on strings tied to his head!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Wolf 527

She was known as 527, but she was much more than a number. She was one of Yellowstone’s beloved wolves.

Wolf 527, pictured above, was beloved by wolf-watchers and wildlife biologists who chronicled her courageous life. Sadly, she was also one of the first wolves killed in October -- during Montana's first wolf hunt in modern times.

As a leader of the Cottonwood pack, 527 was known to be a master of survival strategies. For years, the movements of some of the members of this Yellowstone pack have been monitored by biologists and wolf-watchers equipped with radio tracking devices and powerful spotting scopes. As one of these wolf-watchers reported in the obituary, despite 527's "unbelievable survival strategies," this resilient wolf "was not able to outthink a rifle" and was killed on October 3 when Montana initiated its first public wolf hunt in modern times.

Since the public hunts began, 156 wolves in the Northern Rockies have been killed, and over the next year, more than 500 wolves could be shot to death by hunters and government agents ... reducing the region's wolf population by 40 percent.

If you want to speak out to save the hundreds of wolves in Greater Yellowstone, and beyond, that remain in mortal danger, go to this website and send a message to end the wolf slaughter.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Otter & Robot

©Ramey Channell 2009

Once upon a time there was an otter. This particular otter's name was Christopher, and he belonged to an otter tribe called The Others. Christopher had always wanted to do something no otter had ever done before in the history of otterdom. So, he decided to marry a robot.

Christopher's mother, Oma, said she thought this was an utterly excellent idea, though unprecedented. Her exact words were, "No Other otter has ever married a robot. So, this will be the beginning of a new epoch in Other otter history."

"Cool," said Christopher.

Christopher's father, Otto, said it sounded like his son was moving up in the world, technologically speaking.

So, with these encouraging words spinning in his little otterly cerebellum, Christopher approached the automaton of his dreams, and popped the question.

The robot's name was Krysalis Two, she called herself K2, but everyone knew her as Kristi. She said "YES!" She was programmed to say "There is a loose wire in the sprocket of my head space." But, she said "YES" anyway.

There was tumultous rejoicing in all sectors of the universe.

And they lived happily ever after.