Hangin' in there, in our endless winter idyll in snowbound Whipple. Everyone else is well now. I plan to cough for oh, another week, then abruptly stop this tiresome pursuit of stuffing all my pockets with Puffs against the time when I will need to gag up another particolored bit of lung. Remains to be seen whether the kids will go back to school on Monday. Why break tradition?
Illness aside, we have had a wonderful time with our big bunch of friends, watching movies and hurtling down the snowy cowpasture abyss on plastic sleds. We've tested ten different sled types and the $6.00 neon-green plastic toboggan from K-mart wins over the saucers and inflatables and even the $120 fancy foam one with the Gore-tex handles. We could do a Consumer Reports on toboggans. We have found that spraying the undersides with cooking oil makes for a lot more screaming. And we've all gotten good at bailing before we hit the bobwire at the bottom of the Bowl. Bbbbbb. But enough about us and how we have passed our schoolless days. On to Siberia!
Surely one of the most beautiful animals on earth is the tiger. On this crisp winter day, the Columbus Zoo's endangered Amur tiger (also known as the Siberian tiger) was feeling frisky. It seemed that the weather suited him fine. I would imagine that Amur tigers are not huge fans of our close, humid Ohio summers. Native to far eastern Russia, Amur tigers are no strangers to cold.
It has always seemed odd to me that such a colorful, exotic-looking cat should live in snowy, wintry climes amidst pine, oak and spruce; prey on red deer, elk, moose and wild boar, but they do. This is a cold-adapted animal. The Amur is the largest tiger, and thus the largest felid, in the world. Still, you'd think they'd evolve away from that gaudy orange coat, turn industrial gray or something, to live in Siberia. Just another thing to be thankful for.
I pictured myself standing before a ledge that was above my head, arms stretched out. Could I leap to the top? Could I do anything but look around for help? Nope. Enh. Enh.
Imagine the power it takes to hoist 380 pounds to above head height from a standing start.
Not a problem for this spring-loaded beast.
He padded around his rocky enclosure, seemingly looking for something.
We drank in his beauty
and delighted to see him flop down right below us.
Who scrawled such patterns on his cheeks, dipping the brush in ink, flattening it, pulling up for a thin line, dropping a dot?
Who decided where the dits and dashes go?
What hand, what eye made this perfect animal?
The best human efforts, a crude imitation of his elegance.
Zoos are the keepers of rare animals, rare genes. We need them for so many reasons. With perhaps 500 Amur tigers surviving in Siberia, each one is as precious as a Faberge egg.