Years ago while visiting Albuquerque or Santa Fe, I acquired a Zuni puma fetish. It is the only fetish I own. I bought it because it is a puma, the Directional Guardian and prey god of the North, representing independence, personal power, intensity, and loyalty, carried by travelers to protect their journey. It resides on a dresser in my bedroom, watching over me, protecting my life journey.
As I mentioned in a previous post, my puma obsession extends to researching them and writing poems about them. The following poem was originally published in my book, “On the Rim of Wonder”.
Some people possess obsessions. For me only one really exists–pumas. I kept hoping I might see one when I lived at the edge of a canyon in the Panhandle of Texas even though I knew where I lived was probably too populated. Now, living in LA Country, I realize pumas can be anywhere. Have not seen one yet, but I keep hoping. I’ve considered driving 1/2 hour up into the Los Angeles National Forest to hike and hope. Since one of my walking partners refused to go any farther when the sign said “Watch for Bears”, I would have to take the hike alone. The bear sign did not deter me, but she could not go home since I drove so I went back to the car with her. People see bears in town all the time, but rarely pumas or if they are around, they hide. My puma obsession includes dreaming about them and writing poetry where they star. Here is one of the puma poems I wrote while I still lived in Texas.
I watch for eyes, blue changing to amber and back.
I put my palm, fingers stretched to measure, into the footprint.
Too small, bobcat
My thin body squeezes between the rocks,
climbing quietly down the cliff.
Watching, listening, searching.
Pale amber rushes across my vision line.
My hearth quakes.
I watch; I wait.
It is Isabella, a golden whir chasing rabbits.
At sunrise, I walk the rim,
At sunset, I walk the rim,
At night, I walk the rim,
No puma; not yet.
I’ve had this photo, taken by a famous wildlife photographer, for at least a decade. She, yes, it is a she, watches over me daily. In my bedroom is a puma Zuni fetish and a painting. I have a couple of others here and there in addition to books about pumas. Someday before I die, hopefully.
We tried to pick a non-rainy day to go to the Bronx Zoo. Yet, when we arrived, storm clouds swirled; it did not look good. Luckily, the threat never materialized. I had forgotten just how large it is. This June, the vegetation reminded me of a tropical jungle except the species of plants differ.
This zoo is huge and old with elegant, classical style buildings.
These photos were taken in the Madagascar building.
Water flows everywhere, making for a very natural feeling environment for many of the animals.
The okapi can really blend in with its forested environment. This is one of my grandson’s favorites.
The gorilla area is so large I was never able to discern its perimeters. This seemed good to me; they have lots of room.
If you do not want to spend much of your time walking from exhibit to exhibit, some of which are not close to each other or are very large in terms of acres, a shuttle circles the zoo regularly and you can get off and on at various stops.
Another option is to ride the Monorail which goes all around the huge Asia exhibit. The only downside is, due to the area in which the animals have to roam, you may not see many up close. Can you find the tiger?
This is an Asian rhino and we were told she especially likes hanging out in the water.
Red pandas are not related to pandas at all. Although they are a unique species, they are most closely related to raccoons and weasels.
Many people criticize zoos and would rather have animals roaming free. Sadly, some animals are already extinct in the wild. A number of animals at the zoo fit this category. In some cases the zoo has a breeding program and are working on reintroduction programs which will reintroduce extinct species back into their original wild habitats.
No matter how you plan to get to the zoo, you are going to have to walk some distance unless you hire a car or taxi. You can take the subway and walk about 1/2 mile or so, or you can take the bus but will have to walk to the correct bus stop to catch the express bus which stops near the zoo entrance. We took the bus which allowed us to get a sort of “tour” of Uptown, Harlem, and the Bronx. It was comfortable and not very crowded. I took the following photo at 124th street.
Today Martina, my exchange student from Milano, Italy, and I went with my students of the Wildorado Cattle Company to work cattle on a ranch west of Amarillo. When I posted this on Facebook, a city friend asked what does working cattle mean. These were calves of various sizes, both male and female, all Angus.
First, a person on horseback heels a calf (ropes it by its hind feet) and drags it to the branding area. Then, depending on the size of the calf, a few persons flank it (hold it down) while a person gives it shots, e.g. vaccines, vitamins, another brands it with a hot iron, and someone else ear tags it. If it is a male, its testicles are cut off. Having raised cattle, this was not new to me. However, for a girl from Milano, it was the definitive Texas ranching experience.
I think we worked over a hundred calves during the morning which started at a chilly 47 with a strong West Texas wind. Later, in the afternoon it warmed up about 30 degrees. The wind just now finally quit; it is 8:54. Here are a couple of photos of the day’s activities.
Three people from the National Angus Association headquartered in St. Joesph, Missouri, were there making a documentary. Although currently I live in the country in the Panhandle of Texas, I grew up on a farm about 30 miles from St. Joesph. Small world.
Caprock Canyons State Park, at the southern end of Palo Duro Canyon, requires about 1 1/2 hours to drive from my house. Yesterday, we met the Panhandle Native Plant Society there to investigate flowers and grasses.
When we first arrived, it seemed blue might break through the cloud cover, but it did not.
The park ranger took us to several different sites to identify different flower and grass species. The above is an area which in the early 90s was a cotton field and has been restored with native vegetation.
We drove to another area which remained “wild”–never cultivated.
Then we drove to a picnic area overlooking the lake. Close to there we found the poppy below.
After lunch, we parted with the rest of the group and drove to the end of the road. Martina had hoped to see bison–the state bison herd roams there. At this point we had seen none. As I drove along, a bison bull was strolling down the road. Martina took this photo from the side window. He was only a couple of meters from the car.
We stopped and took a few more photos where the road ends. I have hiked from this point in the past, but not yesterday.
After leaving the park, we headed to Silverton, Texas, to visit a coffee shop there which was recently featured in a Texas magazine as the place to go.
I loved the murals and sculptures. The owner is a sculptor and also a raptor trainer. The shop features coffee, desserts, unique clothing, and art.
On the way back we stopped at the Palo Duro Canyon overlook/picnic area on highway 207.
If you are in the Amarillo or Canyon, Texas, area, I highly recommend this day trip.
Yes, no kidding, I took my Italian exchange student to something so typical of where I live, a livestock auction. However, this was not just any livestock auction. With the guidance and support of the Ag Teacher, the students at Wildorado ISD, where I teach, have created their own cattle company. They did the advertising, contacted potential buyers and consignors, marketed, everything. Top bulls from various ranches and producers were in the sale. A few brought over 4000 dollars and many brought over 3000. Mostly these were top of the line registered bulls. Several were bred and raised by the students themselves. The freshmen and sophomores spent most of the week washing (no kidding) and moving bulls to Amarillo Livestock Auction where the sale was held.
Although there were two other breeds of bulls in the sale, The Wildorado Cattle Company raises purebred Angus cattle. The students have learned to AI, doctor, maintain records, and every thing it takes to maintain a superior quality cattle herd. I was especially impressed with several students the night before the sale at the pre-sale dinner. The students introduced the speakers and top consignors, introduced the Cattle Company program, waited on tables. Kudos to all my students who worked so hard to make this sale such a big success.