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: 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.

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.

The Vernal Equinox + The Northern Lights + Lappland

The spring equinox arrives tomorrow. In honor of the turning of the seasons I give you the post I wrote after visiting the Arctic Circle. – Jadi

For 14 years my husband spent half of every winter up in northern Sweden, working on a frozen lake. The engineers flew up for 2-week stints, leaving home on Mondays and returning two weeks later on a Friday evening charter flight.

The very last year that Uwe did this stint, his company began to allow family members to take advantage of the flights. At the end of March 2001, on the vernal equinox, I flew up to meet Uwe in the region broadly known as Lappland.

Limited access roads

My flight was delayed while President Putin flew through European airspace back to Russia. By the time I arrived it was close to midnight, and we had to drive an hour further north to reach Arjeplog. It was a bitterly cold -22° and on either side of the deserted road the snow piles loomed. But we kept stopping the car to get out – the Northern Lights were dancing in the heavens! So far north, surrounded by nothing but woods and the glittering of stars, the aurora borealis played across the horizen.

I heard a weird background swishing noise underneath the sound of my heart beat. I was listening to the borealis. As I stood on the frigid road my optic nerves took pictures of the Northern Lights. It was so quiet that the part of my brain which processes sound picked up signals leaking out from the images. Early explorers in the Arctic Circle reported this experience. (They discovered when they put their hands over their eyes, the sounds went away.)

The Lights are caused by disturbance in the magnetic field of the earth’s poles. Energy generated by solar winds is hurled from the sun at incredibly high speeds. The solar winds get stopped when they hit the magnetic field. Electrons and atoms from the windstorms collide, and that creates the lights.

In some parts of Sweden and Norway, people earlier described the aurora borealis as the reflection of Silleblixt, millions of herring swimming in the sea. The Eskimos have a legend about the Northern Lights. They think the aurora borealis lights up the trail of the afterlife. This is a dangerous, narrow path that souls must take when they leave dead bodies and head to heaven.

Some cultures mention the lights as dancers in the heavens. Scotsmen call the Northern Lights ‘Merry Dancers’. In the Middle Ages, if people saw the Northern Lights and they contained red, it meant a war was starting somewhere in the world. The red color was death and the blood being spilled in battles. I just saw different shades of white lights and no other colors in the spectrum. And I definitely thought they were alive, like dancers.

The next day we drove north and officially crossed into the Arctic Circle. The trees ended altogether and the landscape beyond this point was a dome of snow meeting an azure sky.

It had warmed up to -6° and the day was clear and beautiful

The Swedes refer to this time of year as winter-spring, the 5thand most beautiful season of all. I made a snow angel

A snow angel for the Arctic Circle

and spotted a rare Arctic white ptarmigan. We drove past spots on the deserted roads where black garbage bags hung dark against the snow. These are a signal for drivers that a herd of reindeer is grazing somewhere nearby.

That weekend is the only time I have seen the Northern Lights. They have danced in my memories ever since.

NOTES: © Jadi Campbell 2024. Previously published as It Was a Bitterly Cold – 22°. To see Uwe’s photos 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.

The Daily Briefing

My sisters were adamant. They know that when I’m traveling I prefer to go off-line. I don’t write emails, I don’t turn on the television set in hotel rooms, and I only respond to messages if they can’t wait.

Uwe sent occasional photos via What’s App to a small group of our friends, but I told my sisters I wanted to remain off-radar.

They insisted. If Uwe and I wanted to drive by ourselves around Namibia and Botswana, they wanted to know where we were staying and where we’d head next. “You can always reach me by cell phone,” I told them. But they wished to follow our trip on the map, and visualize where we were at any given time.

The request actually made a lot of sense to me the more I thought about it. The longer the trip lasted (we were gone for 5 weeks) the smarter it seemed. Uwe and I had talked excitedly about the trip as we planned it, but no one had a comprehensive list of lodge addresses and phone numbers where we could be reached if anyone needed to get in touch with us.

If for some weird reason we disappeared totally, nobody other than a travel agent knew where to find us….

Each evening I’d send a quick message to let Pam and Barb know we’d arrived safe and sound at our destination. Or, in the morning before driving off, I’d text them the name of the next national park and lodge we’d be heading to.

It turned into a rather glorious game. “Hey! Where’s our zebra of the day?” they’d text.

one of Uwe’s great photographs

I did my best to oblige. Uwe’s by far the superior photographer but I snapped shots of the animals crossing the roads and included a daily photo in my daily briefing.

Ghanzi, Botswana horses
cattle everywhere
another roadside attraction: Botswana elephants

I tried to give them an idea of what I was seeing each day. I took photos of the metal artwork, the room we stayed in, the sunset view at dinner.

 

 

 

Maybe once a week we chatted in a three-way phone call. Barb was in Oaxaca, Pam was in Hong Kong, I was in Africa. My sister listened to me crow about our adventures. They told me in no uncertain terms to get medical attention the morning I reported that an insect I could only identify as a black Botswana battery-acid blister beetle had released noxious fluids on my neck. [1]

I journal diligently on trips to record as accurately as possible what we are seeing in each new place, but there was something rapturous about making quick emotional reports. My two sisters were the friends to receive a running commentary of first impressions.

Only Barb and Pam heard from me about the trip as it was happening. There’s no one I’d rather have had as virtual companions. xoxoxoxoxo

I want to end with a postscript that it’s a good idea before heading out on a big adventure to leave the particulars with someone you trust. Sisters, you are now forever on the need-to-know basis!

NOTES: [1] Go to my posts about the black Botswana battery-acid blister beetle for that story. ©2024 Jadi Campbell. Some photos ©2023 Uwe Hartmann. For more of 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 long listed 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: The Animal Kingdom Thread

On February 18 in 2017 I began a blog thread in honor of my father: The Animal Kingdom. It ran for four years (!) and over forty posts (!!) On the seventh anniversary of its beginning I’m reposting the initial installment. Don’t worry, I’m not going to subject you to all 41 of them again. But feel free to explore on your own. – Jadi

I dedicate this new blog thread to my father Bobbo, who worked for the Forest Service. On one of our last family visits we sat around and gleefully read out a list describing groups of animals … See how many you can guess. Answers listed at the bottom of the page.

  1. The shrewdness shrewdly assessed the jungle floor.
  2. This obstinacy obstinately refused to budge.
  3. The covert covertly hid, migrating only at night.
  4. The big bask basked in the river, seemingly aware nothing would dare attack them.
  5. In spite of myself I was charmed by the pitiful piteousness.
  6. The safe sought safety on the shoreline.
Obstinacy, Perfume River, Vietnam

Answers:

  1. Shrewdness of apes [1]
  2. Obstinacy of buffalo
  3. Covert of coots
  4. Bask of crocodiles
  5. Piteousness of doves
  6. Safe of ducks (on land)
Part of a piteousness, Hampi, India
Bask member basking, Khao Yai National Park, Thailand

NOTES: [1] All 22 species of apes, which include great apes and gibbons, are threatened with extinction. Endangered Species © Jadi Campbell 2017. Previously published as The Animal Kingdom: 1. All photos © Uwe Hartmann. To see more of Uwe’s animal photos and pics from our trips go to viewpics.de.  Fun animal names from www.writers-free-reference.com, Mother Nature Network and www.reference.com. To see 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.

James Francis Durante + His Snozz

I seem to be writing a lot about birds these days. This birthday boy fits the bill!

James Francis Durante was born on February 10, 1893  in Manhattan. This singer, comedian, actor and musician (piano) personified the world of the arts from vaudeville to Hollywood. From my grandparents’ to my generation, Jimmy’s accent, laugh, and gravelly voice graced our lives.

Oh! and his snozz…. In his honor I am reprinting the post in which I featured that famous nose. – Jadi

I give you Installment #32 of my blog thread describing what to call groups of animals! … See how many you can guess. Answers listed at the bottom of the page.

  1. The durante MUST be named for Durante.
  2. A raffle is perfect for a Thanksgiving raffle.
  3. Have you ever heard a drumming drumming?
  4. An orchestra plays their orchestra on summer evenings.
  5. A trip seldom trips.
  6. I’d love to see an aurora during an aurora.

Long Beaked Bird on Brown Wood Near Forest

  1. Durante of toucans [1]
  2. Raffle of turkeys
  3. Drumming of grouse [2]
  4. Orchestra of crickets
  5. Trip of goats
  6. Aurora of polar bears [3]
Trip

In memory of Jimmy Durante, February 10, 1893  – January 29, 1980

NOTES: [1] I had to check that this one was real because I instantly thought of Jimmy Durante and his famous schnozz with this definition for the big-beaked toucan… [2] Drumming comes from the birds’ mating call, generated with the wings [3] Could the name be any more wonderfully appropriate for an animal that lives at the North Pole?!

NOTES:©Jadi Campbell 2024. Previously published as The Animal Kingdom: 32. Durante member photo courtesy of Pexels. Goat photo ©Uwe Hartmann. To see Uwe’s animal photos and pics from our trips go to viewpics.de. Fun animal names from en.wiktionary.org, www.writers-free-reference.com, Mother Nature Network and www.reference.com.

 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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