An Unfamiliar Sense of Optimism

I keep posting about the trip to southern Africa that Uwe and I made in November 2023. I’m doing it to share Uwe’s breathtaking photographs, and to share with you what we experienced.

The act of blogging reinforces my memories. Writing these posts helps me recall where we went and what we did.

But there’s something else going on here. In the months since we returned home I’ve created post after post after post after post after post, as if nothing can shut me up….

They aren’t just for the followers who stay with me as I tell tales. I write to keep reminding myself of how great I felt about the world during that entire trip.

The feeling came to me as a revelation. When I climbed shakily out of what I considered a toy tin helicopter after our ride over the Okavango Delta, I was startled to realize I was feeling something unfamiliar:

Optimistic.

I don’t know about you or everyone else, but it looks to me like ongoing world events are grim. Wars, climate change, mass extinctions, corrupt and greedy politicians destroying democratic governments to hang onto power…. It’s a long, depressing list. So to feel unequivocally GREAT about a spot was wonderful.

Thanks to all of you for reading, liking, and commenting on my endless flow of stories about southern Africa. I want to spread my sense of optimism. Let’s share some hope for a change!

NOTES: ©2024 Jadi Campbell. Photos ©2023 Uwe Hartmann. Uwe’s photos of our trips and his photography may be viewed at viewpics.de.

Always give wings to hope

My books are Broken In: A Novel in Stories, Tsunami Cowboys,  Grounded and The Trail Back Out.

Tsunami Cowboys was longlisted for the 2019 ScreenCraft Cinematic Book Award. Broken In: A Novel in Stories was semifinalist for the international 2020 Hawk Mountain Short Story Collection Award from Hidden River Arts and Finalist for Greece’s 2021 Eyelands Book of the Year Award (Short Stories).

The Trail Back Out was the 2023 San Francisco Book Festival Winner for General Fiction, American Book Fest 2020 Best Book Award Finalist: Fiction Anthologies, Runner-Up for the 2021 Top Shelf Award, 2021 IAN Book of the Year Award Short Story Collection Finalist, and awarded a 2021 Wishing Shelf Red Ribbon. The title story The Trail Back Out was longlisted for the 2021 ScreenCraft Cinematic Short Story Award.

Click here for my author page to learn more about me and purchase my books.

 

Today’s Birthday: Old Sturbridge Village

Old Sturbridge Village opened to the public for the first time on June 8, 1946. The site was born from the collective collecting vision of one family. The three Wells brothers of the American Optical Company founded the massive collection that makes up Old Sturbridge. It is the world’s finest collection of rural New England artifacts. 

Old Sturbridge Village began with a 1926 golf date cancelled due to Vermont rain. A.B. Wells went on an antiquing quest instead, and became obsessed with collecting New England antiques and artifacts. Click here for more on the history of Old Sturbridge Village and their website: www.osv.org/visit.

In honor of the Wells and their visionary collection I am reprinting Part One to my post describing our visit to Old Sturbridge. – Jadi

***

I love open air museums. Reading about history is nice, but when it’s three dimensional it comes to life for me. As a child, one of my family’s favorite destinations was Old Sturbridge Village in Massachusetts. The village depicts life in historic New England from 1790-1840. Visitors stroll across 200 acres that contain 40 mostly original buildings and over 50,000 artifacts. It’s the northeast’s largest open air museum.

One year Uwe and I went to New England. I insisted that our trip include a visit to Old Sturbridge Village. In retrospect, it wasn’t just because the spot is so much fun, and it would be interesting (I hoped) for my European husband to learn about early New England history. A big part of the draw was my desire to revisit a favorite piece of my own childhood.

Revisiting places can be a letdown, but the autumn weather couldn’t have been more beautiful. The seasons were about to change and the leaves were coming into their glory. It was perfect.

Old Sturbridge Village autumn
Old Sturbridge Village autumn

DSC_6472

The entry price is steep, now $28 a person. But parking is free, and a second day’s visit is included. I was delighted that Uwe was willing to return the next day! [1]

Old Sturbridge has a large staff and lots of volunteer docents, folks who dress up in period costumes and chat with visitors. These volunteers go through a training period first and either demonstrate crafts (the blacksmith) or share knowledge (the bank clerk). All of them are enthusiastic and fun to talk with.

Asa Knight Store Originally from Dummerston, Vermont, c. 1826 and 1838-39
Asa Knight Store
Originally from Dummerston, Vermont, c. 1826 and 1838-39

Only 25% of those first store patrons could afford to pay cash. Most customers bartered for store goods. The store owner kept a careful ledger of customers’ names, purchases, and what they owed. The young woman behind the counter explained that while ‘her’ father would have run the store, it was likely that a daughter would drop her other duties to help out if she was needed.

DSC_6496

Goods from around the world as well as local products were for sale even two hundred years ago.

Tin Shop Sturbridge, Massachusetts, c. 1800-1850 Reconstructed by OSV, 1985
Tin Shop Reconstruction
Originally from Sturbridge, Massachusetts, c. 1800-1850

Tinplated sheet iron was imported from Great Britain and formed in New England tin shops.The Old Sturbridge Village gift store has handmade items such as dippers, lanterns, etc. for sale.

Thompson Bank Thompson, Connecticut, c. 1835
Thompson Bank
Originally from Thompson, Connecticut, c. 1835

The bank’s single employee was the cashier, open for business in the morning. Afternoons were spent doing paperwork and bookkeeping. This terrific volunteer regaled us with his knowledge and said that yes indeed, the bank clerk would have sat at the window waiting for business and chatting with people passing by…

DSC_6456

Cider Mill Brookfield, New Hampshire, c. 1840
Cider Mill
Originally from Brookfield, New Hampshire, c. 1840

A farm family drank about 300 gallons of hard cider each year. Hic!

Carding Mill South Waterford, Maine c. 1840
Carding Mill
Originally from South Waterford, Maine c. 1840

DSC_6406

This is the only New England water-powered carding mill still in existence. It did a day’s work of hand-carding wool in a mere 20 minutes.

NOTES: [1] Of course, for Uwe a big draw was the unique photo ops… ©2015 Jadi Campbell. Previously published as New England’s Old Sturbridge Village, Part 1.  More of Uwe’s pictures from New England and his photography may be viewed at viewpics.de.

My books are Broken In: A Novel in Stories, Tsunami Cowboys,  Grounded and The Trail Back Out.

Tsunami Cowboys was longlisted for the 2019 ScreenCraft Cinematic Book Award. Broken In: A Novel in Stories was semifinalist for the international 2020 Hawk Mountain Short Story Collection Award from Hidden River Arts and Finalist for Greece’s 2021 Eyelands Book of the Year Award (Short Stories). The Trail Back Out was the 2023 San Francisco Book Festival Winner for General Fiction, American Book Fest 2020 Best Book Award Finalist: Fiction Anthologies, Runner-Up for the 2021 Top Shelf Award, 2021 IAN Book of the Year Award Short Story Collection Finalist, and awarded a 2021 Wishing Shelf Red Ribbon. The title story The Trail Back Out was longlisted for the 2021 ScreenCraft Cinematic Short Story Award.

Click here for my author page to learn more about me and purchase my books.

Today’s Birthday: Rachel Louise Carson

Rachel Louise Carson  was born on May 27, 1907 in Springdale, Pennsylvania. She was a nature writer, marine biologist, conservationist, and scientist whose 1962 book Silent Spring helped spark the international environmental movement. Silent Spring first brought the world’s attention on the devastation done by synthetic pesticides. The New Yorker and Audubon serialized the book.  The big chemical corporations fought her book (of course), including DuPont, Velsicol Chemical Corporation, and American Cyanamid. They claimed she was a fanatic, a Communist (?? because only Communists care about the environment ??), and impugned and called into question her credentials as a scientist. Nonetheless, Carson’s work eventually spurred lawmakers to ban DDT and similar pesticides!

Rachel Carson is one of the scientists whose work led to the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency. [1, 2] Her book plays a big role in the phenomenally successful science fiction trilogy The Three-Body Problem by China’s author Liu Cixin. It’s been a best-selling book in translation and was made into a series both in China and on Netflex. [3]

In acknowledgment of her work I am honored to reprint part of the post I wrote after visiting the intact world of Borneo’s protected frog populations. – Jadi

Ah, Kubah National Park on Borneo…. froggie paradise. The park is also home to other species. We met these guys.

Borneo angle-headed lizard (Gonocephalus borneensis)
Giant bent-toed gecko (Cyrtodactylus consobrinus)

And these. They were the size of my out-stretched hand!

When we planned what to do and see on Borneo, I made only one request. Okay, I admit: it was a demand. I wanted, no, I needed to go on the night tour to see endemic frogs.

Our tour guide picked us up in front of the hotel and drove us out to Kubah National Park, where the park ranger met us. The four of us headed up into the park in the deepening darkness. And I do mean up: we climbed to 1,ooo feet to reach the part of the park where the most frogs hang out. The road was lit only by the beams of our torches and the flashes of fire flies.

Fire flies! I haven’t seen them since my childhood in New England, back when their on-and-off glow was an atmospheric element of every summer evening….

It was glorious.

You hear the one about the cinnamon frog and the fly?

It was also very, very funny, at times like being in a Monty Python sketch. Overcast, humid as hell and still hot as hell, even in the middle of the night. I dripped sweat and my glasses kept fogging up. Pitch black darkness, except for our flashlights…. which the two guides and I were shining on the frogs so that Uwe could capture them in photos. He didn’t want to use the camera flash, not wanting to startle the wild life and because light from a camera flash is too artificial. So I took his flashlight and held a torch in each hand, aiming them as directed. It was as though he were a mad director with a camera crew. It didn’t bother the critters one bit – they went on singing, and croaking, and hanging out on bole branch and vine…

Pitcher plant colony. Home of the narrow-mouth frog, first described in 2010. Microhyla borneensis was once the smallest known frog from the Old World (the current record holder is Paedophryne amauensis from New Guinea). The narrow-mouth frog is the size of your pinkie’s finger nail

A highlight in a night of a parade of wonders was the long-nosed horned frog. O.M.G. If folks on safari speak of the ‘Big Five’, froggers go into raptures about this guy:

Bornean horned frog! (Megophrys nasuta)

He lives in the leaf litter on the jungle floor, and remained motionless even as the park ranger cleared away the leaf detritus around him so that we could see him better. The horned frog, mahogany frog, and narrow-mouthed frog found in the pitcher plant are the rarest of the rare, the ‘Big Three’ of Kubah Park’s frog world. I clearly saw the first two, and saw the third jump from a distance.

Natural world geek heaven.

In memory of Rachel Carson,  27 May 1907 – 14 April 1964

NOTES: [1, 2] President Jimmy Carter awarded Rachel Carson the Presidential Medal of Freedom after her death. Go to my post Today’s Birthday: The Enivornmental Protection Act to learn more about the importance of this legislation. Go to my post Jean-Jacques Rabin + The Trogon for more about The Audubon Society. [3] I’ve read one of the books. Dense and absorbing. The Netflix series is superb!

Many of these frog species can be found only on Borneo. Go to this link to hear what serenaded us in the jungle: Most beautiful soundMicrohyla borneensis. The jungle was not silent! © Jadi Campbell 2024. Previously published as Borneo is Frog Paradise: Part Two. All photos © Uwe Hartmann. To see more of Uwe’s pics from Borneo and our trips go to viewpics.de.

My books are Broken In: A Novel in Stories, Tsunami Cowboys, Grounded, and The Trail Back Out.

Tsunami Cowboys was longlisted for the 2019 ScreenCraft Cinematic Book Award. Broken In: A Novel in Stories was semifinalist for the international 2020 Hawk Mountain Short Story Collection Award from Hidden River Arts and Finalist for Greece’s 2021 Eyelands Book of the Year Award (Short Stories). The Trail Back Out was the 2023 San Francisco Book Festival Winner for General Fiction, American Book Fest 2020 Best Book Award Finalist: Fiction Anthologies, Runner-Up for the 2021 Top Shelf Award, 2021 IAN Book of the Year Award Short Story Collection Finalist, and awarded a 2021 Wishing Shelf Red Ribbon. The title story The Trail Back Out was longlisted for the 2021 ScreenCraft Cinematic Short Story Award.

Click here for my author page to learn more about me and purchase my books.

Our First Animal in Namibia: the Oryx

The first exotic animal we saw on our recent trip to southern Africa were oryx in the Namib Desert.

We drove on deserted and bad (and I mean really bad ) roads to Sossusvlei. The country is dry as a bone and empty of life. It’s stark, and forbiddingly beautiful.

a Zen landscape
some of the highest sand dunes on the planet

We settled in to our cabin. When we looked out the door, we were surprised and exited to see a couple oryx in the back, just a few meters away.

that’s me thinking, “yup, we’re on holiday”

The next morning we got up early to beat the worst of the sun’s heat and hike in to Deadvlei, a forest that petrified a thousand years ago.

Tourists come to climb the sand dunes.

Early morning is also a good time to spot oryx as they forage for plants and whatever dew has collected.  The oryx is one of the few species that actually lives here year round. Oryx can go for long periods without water. Both males and females grow horns that they don’t shed. It’s the official national animal of Namibia.

Their marks are striking, aren’t they? In such a sere landscape, their horns and stripes both stood out and blended perfectly with the scenery. We would see them again, gathered with other animals at watering holes in national parks. But Sossusvlei was the place where we got to observe oryx the closest, and on their own. What a great introduction to the wildlife of Namibia!

NOTES: ©2024 Jadi Campbell. Photos ©2023 Uwe Hartmann. Uwe’s photography and his photos of our trips can be viewed at viewpics.de.

My books are Broken In: A Novel in Stories, Tsunami Cowboys,  Grounded and The Trail Back Out.

Tsunami Cowboys was longlisted for the 2019 ScreenCraft Cinematic Book Award. Broken In: A Novel in Stories was semifinalist for the international 2020 Hawk Mountain Short Story Collection Award from Hidden River Arts and Finalist for Greece’s 2021 Eyelands Book of the Year Award (Short Stories).

The Trail Back Out was the 2023 San Francisco Book Festival Winner for General Fiction, American Book Fest 2020 Best Book Award Finalist: Fiction Anthologies, Runner-Up for the 2021 Top Shelf Award, 2021 IAN Book of the Year Award Short Story Collection Finalist, and awarded a 2021 Wishing Shelf Red Ribbon. The title story The Trail Back Out was longlisted for the 2021 ScreenCraft Cinematic Short Story Award.

Click here for my author page to learn more about me and purchase my books.

The First Folios II

I’m a lifelong Shakespeare fan. When I met my sister Pam in London, I’d already gotten us tickets for two of his plays. And once I saw a First Folio of The Tempest at the National Maritime Museum, I was on a mission. In the next ten days, I wanted to track down as many Folio Editions as possible….

We didn’t know it, but it was ‘Folio Season’ (4th March to 8th November). The year 2023 was the 400th anniversary of the printing of the First Folio which brought together 23 of the Bard’s plays. Talk about perfect timing to visit London and go on a Shakespeare hunt!

We saw both Macbeth and As You Like It in London and the Globe Theater displayed the ‘Munro’ copy in their main foyer. It was a pleasure to see the anonymous owner had made the copy available for the public to view.

The V&A Museum owns three copies of the First Folio. The V&A’s obsession with collecting (the Victorian “I want!” compulsion, we called it) proved too much for us. Pam and I made it to the room with their folio editions, admired them, and fled.

Image courtesy of the British Library website. Link provided in the NOTES

But the British Library displays copies of all the Folios (First, Second, Third and Fourth) in their superb Treasures Room. The Library was down the street from our hotel; this meant we were able to visit twice and take our time examining the cases with their rare copies of Beowulf, Chaucer, Shakespeare, the Brontë sisters’ teeny tiny book (it fits in a palm), Mary Wollstonecraft’s Vindication of the Rights of Woman, original notebook pages of song texts by the Beatles, the Magna Carta, and so much more.

It’s free to visit! Go! The Bard and I would approve!

PROSPERO

Sir, I invite your highness and your train
To my poor cell, where you shall take your rest
For this one night; which, part of it, I’ll waste
With such discourse as, I not doubt, shall make it
Go quick away; the story of my life
And the particular accidents gone by
Since I came to this isle: and in the morn
I’ll bring you to your ship and so to Naples,
Where I have hope to see the nuptial
Of these our dear-beloved solemnized;
And thence retire me to my Milan, where
Every third thought shall be my grave.

NOTES: “On 25 March 1616, Shakespeare revised and signed his will. On 23 April, his presumed birthday, he died, aged 52. On 25 April, he was buried at Holy Trinity Church in Stratford.”The Royal Shakespeare Company.©2024 Jadi Campbell. Click here for more on British Library Treasures. For Uwe’s photos from our trips and his photography, go to viewpics.de.

My books are Broken In: A Novel in Stories, Tsunami Cowboys,  Grounded and The Trail Back Out.

Tsunami Cowboys was longlisted for the 2019 ScreenCraft Cinematic Book Award. Broken In: A Novel in Stories was semifinalist for the international 2020 Hawk Mountain Short Story Collection Award from Hidden River Arts and Finalist for Greece’s 2021 Eyelands Book of the Year Award (Short Stories).

The Trail Back Out was the 2023 San Francisco Book Festival Winner for General Fiction, American Book Fest 2020 Best Book Award Finalist: Fiction Anthologies, Runner-Up for the 2021 Top Shelf Award, 2021 IAN Book of the Year Award Short Story Collection Finalist, and awarded a 2021 Wishing Shelf Red Ribbon. The title story The Trail Back Out was longlisted for the 2021 ScreenCraft Cinematic Short Story Award.

Click here for my author page to learn more about me and purchase my books.

Family Myths

I wrote Family Myths after my father died. It’s the true story of one of the worst conversations in my life. Almost fifty years passed and neither of us ever mentioned that conversation again.

The University of Colorado Boulder’s Program for Writing and Rhetoric did me the incredible honor of accepting Family Myths for publication in Hindsight Journal, their annual publication.

Hindsight Journal has just come out. Click on this link to read the magazine on line for free. Hindsight Journal 4

For any readers out there who have words etched in your brains, this story is for you.

NOTES: ©2024 Jadi Campbell. For photos from our trips and Uwe’s photography, go to viewpics.de.

My books are Broken In: A Novel in Stories, Tsunami Cowboys,  Grounded and The Trail Back Out.

Tsunami Cowboys was longlisted for the 2019 ScreenCraft Cinematic Book Award. Broken In: A Novel in Stories was semifinalist for the international 2020 Hawk Mountain Short Story Collection Award from Hidden River Arts and Finalist for Greece’s 2021 Eyelands Book of the Year Award (Short Stories).

The Trail Back Out was the 2023 San Francisco Book Festival Winner for General Fiction, American Book Fest 2020 Best Book Award Finalist: Fiction Anthologies, Runner-Up for the 2021 Top Shelf Award, 2021 IAN Book of the Year Award Short Story Collection Finalist, and awarded a 2021 Wishing Shelf Red Ribbon. The title story The Trail Back Out was longlisted for the 2021 ScreenCraft Cinematic Short Story Award.

Click here for my author page to learn more about me and purchase my books.

The First Folios

Fanatical Fan of First Folios ?

That’s me….

I’m in love with Shakespeare. [1] It all began with going to a performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream as children. The college show was sold-out, SRO. Or, in my sister Pam’s and my cases, sitting room only. The adults sat us on the edge of the stage and I remember watching spellbound. We were hit by the dew drops that Puck sprinkled on Titania and the hapless lovers, and I’ve been love with the Bard ever since.

Heading to London last September to meet Pam meant we were going to be busy. Pam’s wish list was long and broad. Mine was too, but the #1 item on my list was this: Make a pilgrimage to the National Maritime Museum and  the first folio of The Tempest they were exhibiting as part of the First Folio’s 400th birthday!

The exhibit The Tempest and the Thames: Shakespeare’s First Folio was closing a few days after our arrival, and my lovely sister agreed that we could head there before we did anything else in London…

Pammy snapped photos of me pointing in glee at the First Folio edition lent to the museum by Dulwich College. I made a point of leaning over the glass case and read aloud from the pages the curators had opened the folio to.  It begins with a terrible storm:

ACT I

SCENE II. The island. Before PROSPERO’S cell.

Enter PROSPERO and MIRANDA

MIRANDA

If by your art, my dearest father, you have
Put the wild waters in this roar, allay them.
The sky, it seems, would pour down stinking pitch,
But that the sea, mounting to the welkin’s cheek,
Dashes the fire out. O, I have suffered
With those that I saw suffer: a brave vessel,
Who had, no doubt, some noble creature in her,
Dash’d all to pieces. O, the cry did knock
Against my very heart. Poor souls, they perish’d.
Had I been any god of power, I would
Have sunk the sea within the earth or ere
It should the good ship so have swallow’d and
The fraughting souls within her.

PROSPERO

Be collected:
No more amazement: tell your piteous heart
There’s no harm done.

It was an emotional experience for me. I swear my eyes were filling with tears by the time I finished reading out loud from a manuscript of a play performed 400 years ago.

Reading from a First Folio went from being a thrill to an obsession. I decided to track down as many folios as time allowed.

Part II to follow!

NOTES: [1] I mentioned this fact in a post I titled Meet the One-Tracks. And today is William Shakespeare’s birthday. The Immortal Bard would be 459 years young today. He and his works haven’t aged a bit. ©2024 Jadi Campbell. For Uwe’s photos from our trips and his photography, go to viewpics.de.

My books are Broken In: A Novel in Stories, Tsunami Cowboys,  Grounded and The Trail Back Out.

Tsunami Cowboys was longlisted for the 2019 ScreenCraft Cinematic Book Award. Broken In: A Novel in Stories was semifinalist for the international 2020 Hawk Mountain Short Story Collection Award from Hidden River Arts and Finalist for Greece’s 2021 Eyelands Book of the Year Award (Short Stories).

The Trail Back Out was the 2023 San Francisco Book Festival Winner for General Fiction, American Book Fest 2020 Best Book Award Finalist: Fiction Anthologies, Runner-Up for the 2021 Top Shelf Award, 2021 IAN Book of the Year Award Short Story Collection Finalist, and awarded a 2021 Wishing Shelf Red Ribbon. The title story The Trail Back Out was longlisted for the 2021 ScreenCraft Cinematic Short Story Award.

Click here for my author page to learn more about me and purchase my books.

Mom’s Favorite Critter

Giraffe. 1,000 to 10,000 years old rock art Twyfelfontein, Namibia. UNESCO World Heritage site

The one negative during our trip to southern Africa was that we couldn’t go for hikes. Heck, we couldn’t even go on a stroll because there were too many wild animals running around. We went everywhere in our rental 4WD or a game drive jeep. Most of the lodges we stayed in were in the bush and each place we checked in, they warned us not to stray outside the grounds.

I had to give up the hope of swimming in anything but a pool. If hippos didn’t kill me, the crocodiles would.

Etosha National Park, Namibia

My mom’s favorite animal was the giraffe. Sandy loved them, their patterns, their grace, their impossible heights. I thought of her each time we spotted another giraffe.

Giraffe with hitchhikers, Moremi Game Reserve, Botswana

The only word I can use to describe this animal is, glorious. They fit all the definitions of the word: The giraffe is marked by great beauty and splendor. They are delightful. They are wonderful.

The pattern on each giraffe’s coat is as unique as a fingerprint. A giraffe moves at a regal pace. And their improbable tallness is suddenly funny when they have to splay their forelegs like a tripod in order to take a drink.

Etosha National Park, Namibia

Not being able to go for walks was a small price to pay to be able to see wildlife in their natural habitats. Some of the lodges were built on water holes, and we ate our meals along with the critters. We had the great pleasure of watching giraffes approach for a long drink of water.

time to spread the forelegs
the legs need to be splayed even wider
finally there

Our last lodge on the trip was back in Namibia, and for the one and only time we could actually go for long walks out on the property!

the road sign for the last lodge

Uwe and I were alone and out of sight of the lodge buildings and felt like we had the pampas to ourselves.

 

 

 

 

We spotted wildebeests, pavians (yuck, I do not like wild monkeys), antelopes, zebras,

and giraffes!

once they spotted us, they kept a wary watch

Later we surprised a lone giraffe crossing the path. When he ran off, there was nothing but the sounds of birds calling and his hooves thumping on the grassland.

My mom would have loved it. Sandy, this post about giraffes is for you.

NOTES: They are notoriously hard to track. Tracking Giraffes ©2024 Jadi Campbell. Photos ©2023 Uwe Hartmann. Uwe’s photography and his photos of our trips can be viewed at viewpics.de.

My books are Broken In: A Novel in Stories, Tsunami Cowboys,  Grounded and The Trail Back Out.

Tsunami Cowboys was longlisted for the 2019 ScreenCraft Cinematic Book Award. Broken In: A Novel in Stories was semifinalist for the international 2020 Hawk Mountain Short Story Collection Award from Hidden River Arts and Finalist for Greece’s 2021 Eyelands Book of the Year Award (Short Stories).

The Trail Back Out was the 2023 San Francisco Book Festival Winner for General Fiction, American Book Fest 2020 Best Book Award Finalist: Fiction Anthologies, Runner-Up for the 2021 Top Shelf Award, 2021 IAN Book of the Year Award Short Story Collection Finalist, and awarded a 2021 Wishing Shelf Red Ribbon. The title story The Trail Back Out was longlisted for the 2021 ScreenCraft Cinematic Short Story Award.

Click here for my author page to learn more about me and purchase my books.

Today’s Birthday: Valerie Jane Morris-Goodall

Dr. Jane Goodall was born on April 3, 1934 in Hamstead, London, England. She is a anthropologist and primatologist, acknowledged as the world’s expert on chimpanzees. In 1960 she went to the Gombe Stream National Park of Tanzania to study the Kasakela chimpanzee community. That study is still going, making it the the longest continuous study of animals in their natural habitat [1]. In her honor I give you the post I wrote after we visited the orangutan rehabilitation center on Borneo. – Jadi

In 2019 we saw our first free roaming orangutan.

We were at Semenggoh Nature Reserve, just south of Kuching in the Sarawak state on Borneo. Semenggoh is also a Wildlife Centre, established in 1975 as a rehabilitation sanctuary. They take in injured, orphaned, or rescued orangutans. The sole goal of the centre is the rehabilitation and gradual return of animals to fend for themselves in the wild.

Orangutans are endangered, rare, marvelous. They’re native to only two places on the entire planet: Borneo or Sumatra. Our chances of running across them in the wild were pretty much zero, but at Semenggoh maybe we could watch them feeding.

Our individually booked, guided visit conjoined with the larger international tourist groups. The centre gives educational lectures. We learned the rarity and habits of these giant primates. Orangutans spend at least 60% of their waking time looking for food. “Their diet consists of 300 different kinds of fruit such as barks, honey, young shoots, insects and occasional bird egg and small vertebrae. Fruits make up 60% of the orangutan’s diet.” Also (this fact surprised me), “a 1-mile square radius of rainforest can only support a low population density of about 2.5 orangutans.”  [2]

The centre maintains a feeding platform. Orangutans are called back for lunch if they want it. But the jungle vegetation fruited a second time last winter, and we were informed that if the orangutans didn’t show, this was a sign that they were fending successfully for themselves in the thick woods. And indeed, none of the creatures responded to the rangers’ calls. [3]

We waited patiently for the tardy luncheon guests. Then suddenly walkie talkies crackled. The seemingly relaxed park guides sprang into action, urging everyone back towards the entrance. A ranger had spotted an orangutan!

Seduku

The matriarch was in a tree near the parking lot and ironically closer and easier to observe than if she’d come to the feeding platform. It was Seduku. She’s nicknamed the ‘Grand Old Lady’, born in 1971.

The Grand Old Lady

Seduku could be aggressive towards tourists, our guide said. But the morning we ‘met’ her she was mellow (and almost seemed to be showing off). All I can say is that she had a conscious dignity. Kudos to the great work being done on behalf of orangutans at the Semenggoh Rehab Centre!

NOTES: [1] Kasakela chimpanzee community [2] Semenggoh Wildlife Centre [3] Not getting to see the endangered animals at a feeding station means that they’ve rehabilitated into their natural habitat. Not seeing them is a good thing. This is an ironic moment for any tourist. To learn more about the rehab center, go to their website at https://semenggoh.my/ ©2024 Jadi Campbell. Previously published as Borneo’s Wild Orangutans. All photos © Uwe Hartmann. To see more of Uwe’s animal photos and pics from our trips go to viewpics.de.

My books are Broken In: A Novel in Stories, Tsunami Cowboys,  Grounded and The Trail Back Out.

Tsunami Cowboys was longlisted for the 2019 ScreenCraft Cinematic Book Award. Broken In: A Novel in Stories was semifinalist for the international 2020 Hawk Mountain Short Story Collection Award from Hidden River Arts and Finalist for Greece’s 2021 Eyelands Book of the Year Award (Short Stories). The Trail Back Out was the 2023 San Francisco Book Festival Winner for General Fiction, American Book Fest 2020 Best Book Award Finalist: Fiction Anthologies, Runner-Up for the 2021 Top Shelf Award, 2021 IAN Book of the Year Award Short Story Collection Finalist, and awarded a 2021 Wishing Shelf Red Ribbon. The title story The Trail Back Out was longlisted for the 2021 ScreenCraft Cinematic Short Story Award.

Click here for my author page to learn more about me and purchase my books.

Southern African Birds with their Friends and Foes

“A heart without dreams is like a bird without feathers.” — Suzy Kassem

The bird life in Botswana and Namibia is fantastically entertaining. One of my favorite birding activities was watching them interact with other animals.

In Chobe, Botswana we spent breathless minutes watching a male African fish eagle try – and fail – to fly away with the huge fish he’d killed. A trio of monitor lizards kept on coming, and the eagle finally dragged his catch across the grasses. In the end, the lizard won.

that’s a monitor lizard in the lower right hand corner, determined to steal the fish

On our last night in Botswana, at dusk (alas, too dark for photos) we watched a pair of Verreaux’s giant eagle owls hunting until it became too dark to see them. They were hands-down the largest owls we’d ever seen and absolutely magnificent.

A Verreaux's Eagle-Owl at Tarangire National Park, Tanzania.
Eagle owl photo courtesy of Animalia. We saw a pair in Ghanzi, Botswana

We loved watching the giraffes with birds. They eat the insects that plague the giraffe, and pluck hairs from the mane for their nests. We spotted this group in Moremi Game Reserve.

5 red billed ox birds. Their giraffe host looked so serene

Even more daring are the red billed ox birds who catch the flies and bugs that land on a water buffalo’s nose and eyes.

bird and buffalo in Chobe National Park

As I said in my first post on them, This Life is for the Birds!

NOTES: For more on Verreaux’s  eagle-owl go to  https://animalia.bio ©2024 Jadi Campbell. Photos ©2023 Uwe Hartmann. Uwe’s photos of our trips and his photography may be viewed at viewpics.de.

My books are Broken In: A Novel in Stories, Tsunami Cowboys,  Grounded and The Trail Back Out.

Tsunami Cowboys was longlisted for the 2019 ScreenCraft Cinematic Book Award. Broken In: A Novel in Stories was semifinalist for the international 2020 Hawk Mountain Short Story Collection Award from Hidden River Arts and Finalist for Greece’s 2021 Eyelands Book of the Year Award (Short Stories).

The Trail Back Out was the 2023 San Francisco Book Festival Winner for General Fiction, American Book Fest 2020 Best Book Award Finalist: Fiction Anthologies, Runner-Up for the 2021 Top Shelf Award, 2021 IAN Book of the Year Award Short Story Collection Finalist, and awarded a 2021 Wishing Shelf Red Ribbon. The title story The Trail Back Out was longlisted for the 2021 ScreenCraft Cinematic Short Story Award.

Click here for my author page to learn more about me and purchase my books.

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