Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Hope for the Animals

[Cant you just tell when a girl knows she's pretty:)?]

I have been feeling just a tad depleted of late and, in those times, I tend to draw inward and rest and try to replenish the old spirit a bit. I have been having a rich time of it today. I've been  watching k.d.lang Live in London, with her band and the BBC Orchestra behind her, as she absolutely nails one number after another.

She did a killer job of Jane Siberry's The Valley, Jane being one of Canada's under-appreciated artists, as k.d.lang explained. Then she followed it with  Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah. Wowzers!

Faiza called, full of "Habibi"'s and "Sweetheart"'s, to tell me that, though she remains very tired from weeks of not sleeping, in order to care for Bill through all of his night-time wakings, he has begun to move around just a little, from his chair to his commode, without assistance. This is very good news. Faiza thinks that maybe by next week, he will be able to manage in the bedroom and she can return to sleeping in a bed at night.

"I thank God for everything. Remember, He knows everything we need and if we ask, and we have good hearts and try our best, He will give it."

It is snowing here tonight, so we arranged for me to come over the first day the roads are clear. I told her I was very happy to hear the news about Bill.

I am reading, right now, Jane Goodall's Reason For Hope: A Spiritual Journey. Of course I am loving the story of her love affair with the natural world and animals and insects, which began when she was a small child. And her time in Africa, place of my dreams.

I feel a small tie to her, in a convoluted way.  When I was a single mom, living in Kelowna and longing for the ocean and the west coast of Vancouver Island, I read a newspaper article about a single mom named Alexandra Morton, who was living her dream, living with and studying the whales in the Broughton Archipelago, off north-eastern Vancouver Island.

At the time, I cut the article out, and told myself, "If she can do it, I can do it too." A few years later, I made the move to Tofino. One night I was sitting waiting for some friends alongside their huge old Norwegian clipper ship, the Duen, down at the 4th Street dock at sunset.

A tall woman with long hair came up to me and said "Hi, I'm Alexandra Morton." My response was "Wow!" and after we exchanged some info about where my friends were, that she was supposed to hook up with, I told her about how she had long been my hero, that I so admired the work she was doing with the whales.

Our friends came, along with the film crew from National Geographic, who were to go out with my friends the following day on the Duen to film  some action footage of whales. We all wandered over to the Weigh West pub, where I turned out to be the local color at the table. I was making everyone laugh, telling them about the five-foot-tall old salt who hung out in town in his captain's hat, with his long frizzy hair, whose laugh was so loud and could be heard over such vast distances, that apparently someone had filed a nuisance report on him and he had been ordered, in court, not to laugh out loud in the village  after 11 p.m. (True story!)

In a quieter moment, I told Alexandra how, years before, I had seen the article about her and told myself that if she could do it, and live her dream, I could too, and that she had been my inspiration for coming to Tofino.

She looked at me, and smiled, and told me, "Well, when I was younger, my inspiration was Jane Goodall, and I told myself that if Jane could make a living out of being with the animals she loves, I could do it too. And I have just come from being with Jane Goodall, and telling her how she was my inspiration. So here we are, and it has come full circle."

Cool, hey? I love it when life does stuff like that!

Anyway Alexandra has devoted years up-Island trying to save the wild salmon from the illnesses caused by fish farms the Department of Fisheries allowed to set up right in the migratory path of the young fry. The young fish have to pass through the effluent from the fish farm; they get coated in lice, and are too young to withstand it. The effect on the fishing industry is obvious, but it also impacts the killer whales, who depend on salmon for food.

Alexandra has worked tirelessly to alert and  inform the  Department of Fisheries, but changes are slow in coming and time is running out for the salmon. At this moment, she is  contemplating a change. She has been approached about running for public office, and is trying to decide whether she will be of more value continuing her work for the salmon, or trying to effect some change from within the system. Whatever she does, this woman has my vote and my trust, for certain. She has devoted thirty-plus years to her study of the whales, the survival of wild salmon and the well-being of the Broughton Archipelago.

There is a quote from Reason For Hope which resonated with me. If Jane still has hope, then I must, too. She tells of a story she was told as a little girl, about the birds having a competition to see who could fly the highest. The eagle was sure he would win, flying higher and higher, passing all the other birds, until even he could fly no higher. And at that very moment, a little jenny wren, who had hidden herself in the feathers on his back, flew up, and won the competition. Jane said that she, too, has ridden on the back of an eagle, whose every feather is a person who has helped or supported her in her work. She thanks all of these people. Then she says:

"So many feathers on the eagle. For my eagle, of course, is the symbol of the great spiritual power that I believe carries us all. That supports us when our commitment and determination are put to the test. From which, if we will, we can gain strength and new energy even when we are at our most exhausted. If we have faith, and if we ask."

Aha! That is the step I have missed, in this time of fatigue, depletion and discouragement. To remember that faith, and to ask.


  1. Oh, Sherry, this was beautiful, I love the full circle, how profound. I have wonderful, quirky things happen that just make you realize how big and small the world is! I so love this; I'm so glad you shared! You just found another way to help the Earth and the animals~xXx

  2. Ahh this is wonderful :) I never knew the story about Alexandra! Love how the universe works and love those moments when you know something way bigger than anything one could drum up on their own is happening. YEEHAW! KD Lang's version of Hallejuah is my very favorite one. Here's a link to hear it:



  3. Who is Bill?

    Yes, a girl knows when she's pretty!

  4. Oh sorry. I have posted a few times about the elderly couple I help out, Faiza and Bill. Both with severe mobility issues, trying to keep going in their little house. Lots of difficulties but grateful hearts, big as the world, and the sweetest little couple ever.


I so appreciate you taking the time to read and comment.
Thank you so much. I will be over to see you soon!