Monthly Archives: October 2012

Lucky’s Last Sunset

  Image via Andre Jeanerat, Lucky’s papa
My last post touched upon our endearing relationship to our pets, which becomes terribly poignant when they pass.  Lucky had been a part of our lives for a decade and though we couldn’t claim him as our own, we were fortunate to have him live with us for many weeks at a time while dad traveled.  I have never met a potcake so obsessed with food!   He LIVED for the glory of eating and would journey for miles in search of the perfect jackpot of garbage!  We would always get a good laugh at the steadfast eyes that would never leave the morsel in your hand.  I remember a beach birthday where a friend had prepared a giant snapper for the bbq.  The morning after we discovered the garbage bags shredded bottom, and a few feet later the snapper skeleton; bright white, clean as a whistle, and totally intact.   Calypso the cat was not to blame:)
Lucky wasn’t as fond of exercise.  In the weeks he stayed with us I would take him jogging on the beach in the mornings.  He preferred a slower pace so I would refrain from putting him on a leash.  Often times he would just sit and wait for us when he would tucker out but sometimes he would disappear and refuse to return at the shout of his name.  Nine times out of ten he would be at the garbage bins behind Flamingo Bar, rummaging away, pretending as if he had not heard the calling.  
We said our final tearful goodbyes September 18th, Lucky lived a long and happy thirteen years.  Goodbye old boy!

Parc Safari, Animals, and Ethical Eating

For my niece Valerie, one of many animal lovers in the family, it was her birthday wish to celebrate at Parc Safari (also on the Circuit du Paysan, near Hemmingford, Quebec)  The entire family loaded into the SUV for another slobber soaked expedition!  Parc Safari is a cross between a safari and a zoo in that many of the animals roam freely within the parc but they are fed and cared for by the staff.

 We went once before a few years ago and I wasn’t sure how I felt about the experience.  I have inner battles every time I visit these types of places, such as the Elephant Village refuge in luang-prabang on our trip to SoutEast Asia.  On the one hand I absolutely enjoy being able to get that close to species; observing their behaviors, admiring their unique characteristics, and interacting.  On the other hand, I am bothered by inner thoughts and questions about whether these animals are being well cared for, what quality of life they lead, and are they being exploited for human entertainment.

 According to Parc Safari’s mission statement their goal is to:
“Protect and preserve endangered species as well as educate our visitors about them, while creating a unique City of recreation, fun and environmental awareness for the whole family.”

The Parc celebrated it’s 40th anniversary this summer, and highlighted some of the many changes that have taken place since 1972 when the lions and tigers roamed free and the baboons had a blast ripping off visitors car antenna’s.

The Parc now holds 500 plus animals of 75 different species. The Friends of Parc Safari Foundation was “founded in order to assure the durability of Parc Safari’s zoological vocation.
The Friends of Parc Safari Foundation oversees all the zoological activities of Parc Safari since December 2002.  The principal mandate of the Foundation is to renew the zoological infrastructures and to collaborate in the preservation of species that are threatened with extinction.”

I am absolutely all for preserving animals from facing extinction, as some of these species are.  And I can rationalise how feeding the grazing animals may be a good thing. Many will unhesitatingly come up to the cars for a nibble of carrot, apple, other vegetable or feed. Others are more leery and will only go for what is dropped or thrown to the ground.

These fiery haired favorites have nearly insatiable appetites and seem to love attention and petting.

The buffalo are less attention seeking, very few separate from the herds to seek food from the cars.  Only a portion of the parc is now traversed by car, the other portion is traversed by foot, where one would find the bears, wolves, hyenas, lions, tigers, foxes, and primates .

The bears are apparently retired circus bears and you can see them still putting their disciplined skills on display, which might be amusing to some but rather heartbreaking in my opinion.
The big cats are fed large steaks of raw meat which are thrown at them from wardens.  It is a pretty pathetic match of cat and mouse, they barely need to move a muscle to catch their prey.  These are perhaps some of the saddest sights within the parc in my eyes. Such beautiful, regal creatures confined to meters versus the miles and miles they would enjoy in the wild.  Then again, no poachers are allowed in Parc Safari!
The primates never cease to amaze me in their exhibit of behaviors so like our own, the way they communicate and nurture their young.

 I captured these two bears looking at one another during their nap, then the one reached out and stroked the others arm and they stayed that way, touching fondly for several minutes.  I’m sure all of these animals would display behaviors of affection, of pain, of societal structure if observed attentively enough.
 

Over twelve million people have visited Parc Safari over the years to experience moments like these.  Millions of people all over the globe, of various cultures and beliefs, young and old, share a love, a fascination, or a curiosity of animals.  I think it is part of our nature for most of us to try to protect and preserve animals. Many of us certainly protect and preserve our pets and have no doubt in our minds of their intelligence, of their ability to feel pain, of their complex personalities and relationships. The vast exception of this rule is for those poor unfortunate animals that are frequently found on our plates.  October 1st is world vegetarian day, I urge every single person who buys meat and who eats meat, to take a hard look at what really happens from From-farm-to-fridge.

A wedding, 3 birthdays, and other adventures in Quebec

After leaving B.C. we were off to Montreal to attend Stephane’s youngest sisters wedding.  Marie Pierre was a glowing bride and we had such fun preparing for, then celebrating, her big day!
Take a long look as this may be the first and last time we ever see Stephane in a tux and Andre in a suit and tie!
 Marie Pierre & Joey 
Aug 4, 2012
Joey is quite the musician, no nerves as he serenaded his adoring bride, his dancing mum just beside, and all the guests.

I have been fortunate to be a part of many weddings yet this is the first time I have ever seen this hysterical game played.  The blindfolded bride must pick her grooms legs from the line-up.  Sure enough Marie singled Joey out even after a few switch-a-roos by the MC.
Once again consider myself so lucky to be a part of this fun loving family! The good timin’ gals; sister in laws Nancy, Marie Pierre, mother in law Giselaine, and niece Valerie.

After all that excitement we hit one of our favorite roads, the Circuit du Paysan, to enjoy the countryside and eat and drink merrily.

This year we made a couple of new stops; the alpaca farm alpagadore, which was highly interesting to learn about the superiority, the softness, fineness, and quality of their coats in comparison to wools.  These cuties are relatively easy to care for, they require much less food than other animals of their size, and are clean critters.  The fiber comes in 52 natural shades and is used to make all kinds of textile clothing and crafts.
 
Just outside Saint Armand, in the Eastern Townships, the domaineduridge winery is not to miss.  After sampling a generous selection of their many wines, we were ready to stop for the night!

Also in the Eastern Townships, Magog, a charming little city full of pedestrians and people enjoying the great outdoors.

We paid a visit to an old friend at his family’s summer home, which was every inch as lovely as every embellished story ever told about her.

How dreamy to have spent childhood summers at this lake house!

It was a real treat to have lunch at such an adored and well lived in cottage, and the company and conversation  to match.

After making our way back to Montreal, we did a day trip to the espace pour la vie.  First stop, the biodome, a unique museum which houses 4 ecosystems under one roof; a tropical rainforest, a Laurentian maple forest, the Gulf of St. Lawrence, and the sub-polar regions of the America’s, the Labrador Coast and Sub-Antarctic Islands.

 Second up was the insectarium, where the entire spectrum of natures incredible colors were displayed in thousands of species of insects across the globe.  


Did you know that there are more species of beetles on the planet, some 400,000 different types, than any other animal species?  Check out this fascinating article on newsroom.ucla.edu.


Our third and final stop was the Botanical Gardens, my personal favorite, 74 hectares boasting 30 outdoor gardens, an arboretum, and 56 greenhouses used for collections, research, and production.

 These remarkable bonsais are hundreds of years old!

After viewing this place I feel so silly complaining about the upkeep of fluerdelysvilla’s yard!  If you are a garden enthusiast, be sure to check out their Green Pages, full of helpful hints!  Unfortunately the rain cut short our stay, it is a very long run to the parking lot in a downpour fyi!

Just before we left Quebec we were able to ring in three of the girls birthdays; from left to right Valerie’s 13th, Marie Pierre’s 24th, and Giselaine’s 64th.  No that is not a typo, that big smile in the Britney Spears top is not one of the teenagers, can you believe it?!

 Our final day in Quebec we had one last hoorah on the Harley to Hudson to catch up to island friends and frequents; Sandy, Shayna, Hillary, Kelly and Kaelyn.  Soooo good to catch up and finally get to see the famed “little house in the woods” in person!