Sunday, November 15, 2015

Charlie dreams of summer

The only back history a cat has is his own.  As does any animal, actually.  We are, with perhaps the exception of whales and dolphins, the only species that remembers what happened before we were born by word of mouth,  reading,  poems, family histories.  
You can, if you're careful and patient,  figure out why that dog you just got from the shelter is so afraid of pianos,  or resents men wearing hats, or why that lovely cat will quietly disappear when strangers show up wearing boots.  

I wonder what he remembers beyond the bad stuff.  


  1. What was the reference to whales and dolphins? interested readers need to know more!

  2. Whales sing in the ocean, as do dolphins. They are at least as intelligent as we are. People record their songs, and it turns out that each whale has a different one, unique to that particular whale. And it keeps changing as they age, as they grow, as they travel.

    This is how they communicate, apparently, and underwater the sound I would imagine can travel a very long way. I've always felt that this isn't just noise, but possibly a whale telling his own history (and who knows, perhaps his family history as well) as he goes.

    There are tribes where, if you ask a man his name it might take him a long time to say it, since his name is actually the story of his life, and possibly his genealogy as well. We are not that far removed from either that tribesman, nor from that whale, actually.

  3. Ah, thank you. Len Howard learned the birdsongs of successive generations of wild birds, and noted that some families were better musicians than others. Now I wonder, since they handed down their song, if that too was a history of their species?

  4. Oh, that's exactly it. And isn't the blue tit in Britain the little wren who learned to open milk bottles left on the back stoop? You're right, passing on what you learned to do differently is a form of learned behavior, a kind of short term history, but shared. Fascinating.

    And chimpanzees teach each other how to fashion sticks for getting at all those yummy termites out of their nests.

  5. Tits, the birds, that is, are paridae, wrens are troglodytidae. Different families of birds. The bluetits are probably the ones who learned to steal the cream! endless source of material for nature columns in UK newspapers in my youf.

  6. yep, you're right. My bad.