Post 4/2020 Saturday 23 January . . . We watched it. We listened to the speeches, music and commentary. In the afternoon, I even napped. It was a wonderful TV-side day. Last Wednesday, the peaceful transfer of executive power in the inauguration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris meant the country could breathe again. Celebration met with resolve to do better, much, much, much better.
From President Biden’s speech, I heard a straightforward statement of fact and compassionate call to action: “Democracy has prevailed . . . Join hands . . . Defend the truth . . . Do not turn inward . . . End the uncivil war.” With Biden and Harris at the helm, our hunger is met for a new kind of leadership. We’ve gained the kind of leadership that is already addressing the Covid-19 pandemic crisis, along with a catalog of pressing national and international matters. It’s heartening to read the news again and to redouble one’s thoughts and prayers.
In The Hill We Climb, Inaugural Poet Amanda Gorman delivered an American story of hope. The poem ends: “For there is always light / If only we’re brave enough to see it / If only we’re brave enough to be it.” We have not only to see and cheer the light, but to extend our hands to “be it.” Thank you, the nation’s first National Youth Poet Laureate, Amanda Gorman!
Around Greencroft Goshen
On- and off-road near Goshen
Tracks in the snow
Laughter, sensibility, love
I’m grateful that the public television miniseries. All Creatures Great and Small, (PBS Masterpiece, Sunday’s at 9 pm until February 21), has driven me back to reading James Herriot’s stories. Nothing recently has made me laugh and smile, even hoot, as much as the stories in James Herriot’s Animal Stories (James Herriot is the pen name for James Wight, 1916-1995).
In the Introduction, Jim Wight, James’s Wight’s son, writes: “Tommy Banks, one of my father’s oldest and most respected farm clients, looked down at the small boy standing confidently in his farmyard, shiny new boots in stark contrast to his own. Mr. Banks was observing a seasoned and highly experience ‘veterinary assistant,’ a veteran of hundreds of farm visits whose every bearing exuded pride and dedication to his job. I was that boy.
“A kindly smile spread over the farmer’s face. ‘Are you going to be vet like your dad?’ he asked. He was unprepared for the swift, indignant reply.
“‘I am a vet!’ I said, drawing myself up to my full height–a few inches under three feet. Having attained the heady age of four years old, I considered myself to be a fully qualified veterinary surgeon. I could not understand why Mr. Banks was laughing.
“The source of my unshakeable conviction that a veterinary surgeon’s life was the one for me was my father, James Alfred Wight, a man whose total dedication, love and enthusiasm for his job was transmitted down to me as a four-year-old child.”
In the movie and the book, I am transported back to the Yorkshire country in northern England we visited in 2004. We walked paths through farms, fields separated by miles of drystone fences, alongside River Wharf, and way up, lost for a while, in sheep grazing moors. Memories draw me back, but Herriot gives me a fuller picture of veterinary service, animals and their owners from his almost 50 years of as a veterinary surgeon, on call at any hour of day or night. In 1966, at the urging of his wife, he started writing his profession, animal and people stories.
The stories remind me of my dad, who knew when to call the vet. Dad became proficient himself in administering a needle to cattle as needed. I wish I had paid more attention to Dad’s eagle-eye ministrations to our farm animals as well as his interaction with the vets who were called to our farm. That’s a topic to discuss with siblings.
James Herriot, in the fictionalized account of his real life mid-20th century experiences, hits a heartwarming cord of high regard for the welfare of animals, both domestic and wild, as for the world we all inhabit. You’ll find James Herriot’s Animal Stories in the library, used books store, or maybe on your own bookshelf.
Reverence for creation
Albert Schweitzer (1875-1965), was an avid advocate of reverence for creation. He labored and lived his dedication on behalf of all people, all creatures and all creation. Here is one of Schweitzer’s prayers on behalf of animals:
“Hear our humble prayer, O God, for our friends the animals, especially for animals who are suffering; for any that are hunted or lost or deserted or frightened or hungry; for all that must be put to death. We entreat for them all thy mercy and pity and for those who deal with them we ask a heart of compassion, gentle hands and kindly words. Make us ourselves to be true friends to animals and so to share the blessing of the merciful.”
Good will and peace on earth.