9 July

Poem: The Sighing Barn. Are We Not All The Children Of Change?

by Jon Katz
The Sighing Barn
The Sighing Barn

The Sighing Barn is invisible, I am told,

she is old and has magical powers,

she allows herself to be seen when the sun

is low in the sky,

or high,

and the pilgrim on his hero journey will not laugh at her,

or mourn the old days, or say what a shame it is to see her,

she is not a pathetic or helpless thing,

not something to be mourned,

or pitied,

and I walked down the long dirt road,

around the cow barn, back of the alfalfa

field, and I stopped and closed my eyes,

and listened for the sighs, and came through the woods, and

I there she was, The Sighing Barn, her sighs beautiful, lyrical,

deep sighs that caressed the trees and brushed across the top of the meadow

grass, and sent the barn swallows zooming over her nest,

and she swirled her skirts and the rabbits fled from the meadow,

and the mice vanished into their holes.

“Hey handsome,” she said, “what can I do for you? If you feel sorry

for me just beat it, I will shower you with worms and dust and vanish.”

I hurried forward to bow and say I did not feel sorry for her,

she was a beautiful

and proud thing, settling into herself.

“Good boy, she said, come and have a seat, I’ll tell you a bunch of

stories, I am not a sad thing, I am life itself, coming and going,

my sighs are the breath of hope and promise, my curtsy to the next

thing, why mourn a life that was well and fully lived?,  truth is,

my feet hurt, I am tired, ready to move on.”

And she sighed, and I felt a soft  and musky breeze

brush my cheeks.

Are we not all the children of change?

And I closed my eyes,

and she was gone.

9 July

Changing World. Shekinah.

by Jon Katz
Coming To Me
Coming To Me

My world is changing, every night for the last several weeks, there is an evening storm, it appears in the late afternoon, it chases the sun or blocks it out, it sends winds and showers to announce it, and now, I see it as personal, I know it, it is coming for me, to me, it has a message for me, from Mother Earth I think, but I don’t know what it is. I think it is telling me that the world is a beautiful and rich place, but that it is changing, and there are those who are awakening to the change and those who are not. I have not seen clouds like this before, they are beautiful and disturbing at the same time. I take my camera and go out every night to find the clouds, to meet them, to escort them through, but I am insignificant to them, they blow right over me, showing themselves but keeping their message to themselves.

Perhaps it is a message from Shekinah, the powerful Angel who God appointed to watch over the earth in the Kabbalah, one of the most powerful women in spiritual history. He sent her out and commanded her to punish those who despoiled the earth and did not care properly for her. Shekinah was a powerful woman, strong enough to challenge God and defy him, and she roamed the earth, looking for people who despoiled and disgraced the planet and when she found them, she send clouds of Cherubim to sting their cheeks and powerful storms to wash them away and destroy their homes and angry angels throwing lightning down from the skies to avenge the wounded planet.

9 July

Dogs Of Handsome Hound: Buying Local

by Jon Katz
Buying Local
Buying Local

Once every month or so, I drove to North Bennington, Vt., to pick up my dog and cat food – Fromm’s, of course – at the Handsome Hound, the holistic pet store and grooming parlor run by Celeste O’Dowd, dog lover and her son Brendan – these are all her dogs. Celeste is a rabid Boston Red Sox Fan, but we have gotten past that. We just don’t talk about baseball. Her Boston accent is as thick as pea soup, and she only sells the best and healthiest food and treats. It is a wonderful alternative to the big pet food box stores, which feel like giant warehouses. At the Handsome Hound, Celeste’s dogs are right behind the cash register and there are various poodles and other dogs in the grooming parlor.

Celeste always has time to talk about the food you’re buying – we talk a lot about the brand of Fromm’s Red needs to keep his energy up – and most of the customers turn out to end up being  her friends as well. Dog lovers love to talk about how their dogs live when they pick a food, and  Celeste actually wants to hear it. She is careful about what she sells, there is nothing that is bad for dogs or cats to eat. Shopping local is not just an obligation to me, it is a gift, an affirmation of individuality, community and connection. She sold me three steamed antler bones today, there were expensive but she pointed out they would last forever. I caved. She reminds me every time I got there of why it is so important not to let corporations take over the earth. If you look at the growing list of pet recalls, it is easy to understand the importance of buying food from places like Fromm’s or the Handsome Hound. They are not corporate. They actually care what’s in the food. I doubt I will ever have any food I buy at the Handsome Hound recalled.

9 July

Can You Love An Animal Too Much? My Interview on the CBC

by Jon Katz
Can You Love An Animal Too Much?
Can You Love An Animal Too Much?

A few weeks ago, I was interviewed on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) on an intriguing topic close to my heart: Can We Love Our Animals Too Much? I believe the answer is yes, many of us do sometimes love our animals too much, we lose perspective, turn out love into anger at humans, exploit animals to make ourselves feel better, mistreat them in the name of caring for them, overfeed them, medicate them with human-style anxiety and depression drugs, treat them as children rather than learn how to train them as animals, project our human neuroses onto them and increasingly see them only through the prism of rescue and abuse.

Is is loving to crate animals for years in shelters so that we can feel noble? Is it loving to treat animals like children, and to see them as human children?

I love animals, they are my work and a large part of my life. I have sometimes loved them too much and they have always paid for it. I am learning how to love them in a way that is good for me and for them. Not easy in our culture, which is increasingly emotionalizing animals, and as we become fragmented and disconnected from our world, we are looking to animals, especially dogs and cats, to fill the holes in our lives.

The interview was long and thoughtful, I am always happy to agree to do interviews with the CBC, they actually research topics and offer time and space to answer questions, somethings that rarely happens in the world of hyper-and-combative American media. I believe true animal advocacy isn’t just about rescue, isn’t about turning the acquisition of animals into a moral imperative. It is about understanding their true nature, listening them and respect the fact that they are not furry versions of us, they are not like us, they deserve to be respected for what they are, not for what we need them to be.

In any case, it was a great interview and I enjoyed it, and if you are interested you can get to it here.

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