I was very fortunate to travel to South America recently, and more specifically, to the Galapagos Islands. This chain of islands reminds me of what Hawaii must have been like in its infancy. To compare, the Hawaiian islands chain ranges in age from 80 to 5 (Kauai) million years old, while the Galapagos Islands range from approximately 4.2 to 3.2 million years old. What struck me was the peaceful calm of the animals. We were strictly advised not to approach them. When we saw animals, they did not act as though we humans were threats. They treated us with indifference. It was a strange and awesome feeling. They do not view humans as aggressive because none of the interactions have taught them differently. This principle applied to the sea lion on the bench at the bus stop in San Cristobal, the abundant fish I saw while snorkeling, the marine iguana launching his morning swim in the bay, the hawk resting on the small cliff above my backpack, and even the flamingoes in the brackish water let us gaze upon them without alarm. It was the trip of a lifetime. My wish is for these islands to retain their majesty and to remain as undisturbed as possible by humans. Truly an Eden.
"The body heals with play, the mind heals with laughter, and the spirit heals with joy." - Proverb
Diana Mandel and I headed south on a sunny January afternoon to visit Brad’s World Reptiles in Corvallis, Oregon. We pulled up to his house and were greeted by a dinosaur statue, then Brad’s assistant and resident tour guide, Cody. Brad came out and hugged us both, thanking us for coming by to see a lifetime of work and dedication to the rescue and education of reptiles. Brad moved onto the land in the mid-80s, then a hay farm, and ever since has brought the land back to life – literally. The property is 10 acres of now a wildlife refuge. We were impressed with his tales of travels abroad and saw a rough cut of a 3-D film he is releasing on animals in Africa. We also got an exclusive peek at Brad’s home videos of Steve and Terry Irwin’s visit in the 90s.
But we were eager to see the other residents. First, he introduced us to the friendly macaws in the backyard. Then, Cody took us on a tour of the areas where hundreds of snakes, lizards and tortoises call home. After spending a few hours getting to know the residents (Isaac, the monitor lizard and her tongue, touching snakes, petting an alligator), I gained a deeper understanding that these creatures have individual personalities. I could identify with the love Brad and Cody have for the rescued reptiles.
Brad offers educational talks at schools, museums, and other venues. If you’d like to book Brad for an event, you can contact him through his website. In the meantime, please enjoy my photos!
I am fascinated by the art of retail window displays. A couple of years ago, I visited Bavaria and Austria over the holidays. The creative energy and vision required make these fascinating exhibits - all with the goal of luring shoppers into the store. It's still a fun activity in the evening...you know, "window shopping". The art of the display is not about how much you can cram into a small space, but rather, allowing enough space for each item to sing its own song in harmony with the other pieces. I hope you enjoy the music!
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