Over the years, I have cultivated strong attractions to various animals.
First and foremost, of course, we have the majestic and elusive snow leopard, an animal I have been fascinated with for the better part of my twenty-two years. As a child, I was fascinated more by science books than any other literature, and I had piles of those Eyewitness books with fantastic photos and minute detailing. I had a book for all sorts of creature, including domestic cat breeds, butterflies, birds and BIG CATS. It was in the big cats book that I saw my first snow leopard.
(Disclaimer: I Googled the animals for these images. Most seem to be from National Geographic or something similar.)
The book characterized the snow leopard as a solitary predatory, found mostly in the mountains of Central Asia. Its large tail helps it balance on the rocky and precarious terrain, and unlike most big cats, the snow leopard is unable to roar.
Snow leopards just seemed to be so different from the other big cats, despite sharing so many characteristics. I suppose I identified with that idea because I always felt a bit out of place in my family. Aside from my dad, I’m the only other person in both clans who prefers to remain rather quiet, only speaking when spoken to, or who would prefer to opt out of family gatherings all together. I’m shy, goddamnit. I am self-sufficient. I can entertain myself quite well all on my own, and yet no one in my family seems to understand that. Everyone else is loud and rambunctious.
These gorgeous cats don’t make an appearance often. Apparently, it’s only been within the last few years that someone was able to actually film a predatory snow leopard in the wild.
One of my favorite book series, “His Dark Materials,” by Phillip Pullman, contains a snow leopard. Lord Asriel, “a tall man with powerful shoulders, a fierce dark face, and eyes that seem to flash and glitter with savage laughter,” has a snow leopard as his dæmon. Her name is Stelmaria. In this series, a dæmon is the physical manifestation of a person’s soul, and typically takes on an animal form indicative of its individual’s personality. If your dæmon is a dog, that supposedly means you are obedient to authority, while a cat dæmon could mean you are fairly independent.
I’m going off on a tangent. It’s an interesting series, one I now realize I must revisit.
Conclusion: Snow leopards are bewitching.
I mean, goodness, look at them! With their beady, soulless little eyeballs that oddly remind me of dark, juicy blueberries.
For my part, I simply think they are adorable. They appear soft and fluffy, not unlike some of my favorite stuffed animals. They also sound unlike any other creature on the planet. I hate that they have become part and parcel of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter mess, but eh, that is entirely out of my hands. I have done all I can by expressing my dismay.
Fun owl facts (gleaned from Wikipedia):
– They can turn their head 135 degrees in either direction; they can thus look behind their own shoulders.
– Owls are far-sighted, and are unable to see anything clearly within a few inches of their eyes.
– They have been associated with death and misfortune, as well as with wisdom and prosperity.
– The time at which an owl hunts may be determined by the color of its eyes. Dark brown or black eyes indicate nocturnal activity, orange indicates dawn or dusk, and owls with yellow eyes are diurnal and hunt during the day.
If there is one type of owl I have to disown, it would be the barn owl. Something about it is reminiscent of the supernatural. Downright ghostly and otherworldly, if you ask me. I see the face of a featureless spirit, or an extraterrestrial on the body of that bird.
I would be at my wit’s end if I saw one of these things flying toward me in the middle of the night, its cold white face and sharp beak dropping silently out of the night sky to peck me into oblivion.
Perhaps I should say I just love animals. I love the sheer physicality and immediacy in their lives. I love their ability to adapt so perfectly to the circumstances in their lives, even though I know such adaptation sometimes takes generations.
There are animals I admire for their swiftness, their stealth, or the predatory prowess.
Some animals I love simply because they are so awkward, like the giraffe or the platypus.
This entry is getting a bit out of hand, so I will end here. Enjoy the pretty pictures, and laugh at my simplicity if you will.