Monday, November 25, 2013

The Hunting Season!

It's Chloe here.
I'm sorry if you were expecting my Mum, but I wanted to send you a quick note . . .  when the story is all about me you can't be sure that my Mum will get the facts right, so it's best if I get a word in first.

Did you know that this is the Hunting Season?
It's the most exciting time of the year . . .  let me explain.

When it comes to hunting, my life can be a little restricted.  If it's too wet to go into the garden I'm limited to paw-play with the vacuum cleaner . . . which is good fun, and I like to help my Mum with the housework, but it's not what an energetic cat would call exciting.

Or, if it's wildlife I want, I can always get up close and personal with the black duck on Mum's umbrella . . . but , with all due respect to him, he's a rather stupid and very dumb duck.

All of this keeps me on my toes, but it's not nearly as much fun as proper out-of-doors hunting.

However, and this is the exciting thing, out-of-doors hunting becomes even more exciting in the autumn.

Have you noticed that in the autumn the trees are covered, absolutely covered, with things called nuts?
There are small ones called acorns, and bigger ones called chestnuts, and lovely shiny ones called conkers . . . I'm getting quite an expert on nuts.  
Not only that, when the wind blows they all come tumbling down from the trees and make a crunchy carpet under your paws.

Nuts are great fun to play with, but what really puzzles me is that the squirrels love to eat them.  They really do!

I tried an acorn once, when my Mum wasn't looking and, believe you me, they're not a patch on free-range chicken.  But dozens of squirrels come visiting our garden every day just to tuck in.

So . . . squirrels love hunting nuts . . . I love hunting squirrels . . . all of which, as I'm sure you'll agree, proves that autumn is the perfect hunting season!

Mind you, I'm careful.  Squirrels don't always play fair . . . I can't speak 'squirrel', but it's jolly clear that whatever their jabbering is about, it isn't very polite . . .  and, I don't know if you've noticed, but even the smallest squirrel has very big front teeth!

Now, the reason for this letter is to tell you about something very exciting that happened just the other day!

My Mum and I were walking in the garden, looking up at all those squirrels leaping about in the branches, when, suddenly, I heard a definite rustling sound right down by our feet.  And, stagger my whiskers, there was a squirrel, hidden deep in the ivy, with the tips of its ears sticking up through the leaves!
He hadn't seen me . . . but I'd seen him!

Well . . . you can guess what any resourceful cat would do given an opportunity like that.

I leaped as high as I possibly could and landed, 'Plonk!', right on top of that squirrel . . . who wriggled out from under me and shot up the nearest tree.

Now, I'm sure you won't make the same stupid mistake that my Mum made.
To my annoyance, she thought that I'd actually been trying to catch that squirrel.  In fact, she burst out laughing, which was very rude, and told me that squirrels had fleas, and that all I'd probably caught was a flea!

Of course I wasn't trying to catch that squirrel.
Who in their senses would want to catch a squirrel?  What could I do with it?  I'd hardly want to bring it home to eat up my food, monopolise my favourite toys, and pinch my bed.

Who could possibly want to have a troublesome squirrel in their house?  Definitely not me!

No, all I'd wanted to do was to give that squirrel a surprise . . . to show it that I wasn't the pushover it thought I was . . . and that's exactly what I did!

Mind you, jumping on squirrels and hunting for squirrels is all rather tiring for a small cat.
After a celebratory lunch I settled down for a well-earned sleep on the sofa.

I know you'll understand what really happened, and that you won't make the same silly mistake that my Mum made.
If she tells you that I couldn't catch a squirrel, and could only catch a flea . . . please, can I rely on you to put her right?

And I didn't catch a flea!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Unknown Factor

I can accept, because I'm told it's true
And observation prompts me to agree,
That what I'm standing on so trustingly -
This solid earth, this globe on which I grew
Whose complex, multi-featured face I view
As home - is circling, spinning endlessly
Around the sun.  What's more, it logically
Can be perceived that other planets do
The same.  But telescopes can't show who wrote
The music for this stately, stellar dance;
Nor find the wisdom that controls each note
And scored the moonlight that it might enhance
The darkened earth.  What steers each cosmic boat
Through boundless space?  The hand of God - or chance?

Monday, November 4, 2013

Hello, Good News!

As I'm sure you've noticed, phones are dominating the news at the moment.
From the phone hacking case at The Old Bailey, to the constant trickle of leaked news telling us of NSA's phone tapping activities in Europe . . . phones, their users and their interceptors are everywhere.

But what strikes me as rather sad is the fact that this news is universally bad.  By and large, any good news relating to phones slips unnoticed under the radar of the media.

Which is not to say that there isn't good news on this subject.  There is.  I've just learned of one particular, heart-warming item that fully deserves publicity . . . may I share it with you?

Talking about his forthcoming book, 'Empathy', and urging all of us to join what he terms 'The Empathy Revolution', Roman Krznaric (portrayed in this lively sketch by Andrew Park) spoke of an unlikely project that has been sowing fertile seeds of hope in the Middle East.

Under the name, 'Hello, Peace!', it was launched in December 2002 by 'The Parents' Circle' . . .  an organisation based in Israel and Palestine which 'promotes reconciliation as an alternative to hatred and revenge'.
As its name implies, 'Hello, Peace!' involves phone calls . . . unexpected and life-changing phone calls.

Under this imaginative scheme, anyone in the region who has suffered bereavement on account of the prolonged conflict, can make a free phone call 'over the wall' and communicate with a similar sufferer on the other side.

By these means, bereaved Palestinians are able to speak freely for up to half-an-hour to bereaved Israelis.  Bereaved Israelis can reach out and make contact with bereaved Palestinians.  They can share their mutual grief, build up an understanding, and, by talking and listening, form an empathetic link.

Neither side is in search of an outlet for anger, it is the empathy formed with someone who is experiencing a loss similar to their own that creates a tangible bond . . . a bond that can be both healing and sustaining, a bond that can lead to peace.

The figures alone stand testament to the success of this inspired project.  Over a million calls were made in the first five years of its availability.

In the words of Roman Krznaric, "Empathy, the imaginative act of stepping into another person's shoes and viewing the world from their perspective, is a radical tool for social change and should be a guide for the art of living."

Wouldn't you agree that boundary-breaking projects, such as this, bring home the truth  that we need each other . . . that we are part of each other?  What's more, that given the opportunity and the encouragement, we can grow together in wisdom and understanding.

Let me share a phrase I read recently, 'We are not human beings,' it declared, 'we are human becomings'.
Along with everything else in the universe, we are evolving . . becoming more aware . . . becoming more conscious of our inter-dependence, our basic unity.

At a level familiar to all of us, just watch a group of football supporters after their team has scored a goal.  Whilst bad news freezes and isolates, so good news clearly liberates and unites.

True, when it comes to football matches there might be a divergence of views between the opposing teams.  But were a free phone link to be made available after the match, there would still be a strong point of empathy between supporters on both sides . . . a shared deep love of the game.

So . . .  if we're looking for front-page headlines that lift our spirits, promote understanding, and generally unite us, wouldn't you say that the moving news of 'Hello, Peace!' far outweighs the nefarious activities of international phone-tappers?

We don't need a free phone link to agree on that!