Play date?

I’ve overheard parents setting up *play dates* for their kids for the last few years and have to hide the smirk on my face, but when a stranger tried to arrange a playdate for their pup with Luka I didn’t know what to think! I feel like it’s bad enough that we need to schedule playtime into our kids already overscheduled lives, but are we to do the same for our pets? Whatever happened to turning the kids (or dogs) loose in the neighborhood to amuse themselves?


Truthfully, I don’t believe it’s wise to do either. Mostly I think we go too far to pamper and shelter our kids as much as we do. Granted, I don’t have kids, so what do I know, but we all survived our childhoods, didn’t we? Do we need to do the same to our pets? Can you believe that I had a stranger chastise me for having Luka at a street fair a few weeks ago because it was warm and “his feet must be burning up on that hot pavement!” Well gosh – get the animal cruelty people after me!

These same people would likely turn a blind eye to the homeless person they see each morning at the train station or the elderly relative struggling to maintain their independence. Do you realize that Americans spend 40 billion a year on our pets – to pamper them and send them to doggy day care and to feed them premium holistic food? Yet we have no sympathy for the underemployed, the children who live in poverty, or the elderly. Is it just me, or are our priorities fouled up?

I’m as guilty as the next person when it comes to spoiling my pets, but at least I think I recognize it for what it is. The NY Times article points out the hypocrisy in the choices we make – spending money to buy Halloween costumes for our pampered pets while countless other abandoned or unlovable pets are euthanised in shelters each year. Shouldn’t we extend our concern to members of our own species just as willingly? Or perhaps more so?

Maybe it’s only the (newly minted) social worker in me coming out. What do you think?

Great Bay Marshes

I often think I’m spoiled to live where I do, with so much beauty within an hour or two of driving. The ocean is just minutes away and I suppose that makes me take it somewhat for granted. At this season of the year, I don’t think there’s much more beautiful than the salt marsh. The seaside goldenrod is blooming, as are the big white bouquets of the groundsel trees. The really large marshes are a bit of a trip for me – Delaware Bay or south to the barrier islands stretching from Barnegat Bay to Cape May.

A return visit to the decoy show on Sunday left with me an hour or two before heading home to explore the salt marsh at Great Bay near Tuckerton. I wasn’t looking for birds, just enjoying the scenery along the 5 mile road into the pristine marsh, passing salt ponds and little inlets and channels along the way. I found a sandy beach before the first bridge where Luka could run through the shallows while I studied the skies and the passing Monarchs stopping to feed on goldenrod. There was a noisy flock of Boat-tailed grackles near to a ridiculously-narrow wooden plank bridge and a few Great Egrets stalking the marsh grasses. I was surprised not to see more of them – one of the little creeks close to home has had at least 3 dozen egrets feeding in the early morning when the tide is right. I keep reminding myself to stop and photograph them before they’ve gone.

For those of you coming to the Fall Weekend – Tuckerton and nearby Brig is within driving distance from Cape May and may be worth a stop if you’re coming from the north. I don’t usually stop here on my way south to Cape May, prefering instead to head west to the Delaware Bayshore and visit the marshes there.

I wonder if this will be anyone’s first chance to dip their toes into the Atlantic Ocean – Susan? Lynne?

Name that fish

Larry at Brownstone Birder always has the most challenging ID tests – whether it be song lyrics or bird/insect/wildflower ID, he usually manages to stump me (most often with his song lyrics – which Lynne is really good at, BTW). So, knowing one of his hobbies is fishing, I thought he might be able to ID the two fish decoys we bought this weekend. I, of course, know what they are (thanks to the little tags that came attached) but, do you?
These are miniatures and are reasonably priced for collecting. Technically, I think this is a lure, rather than a decoy, because of the dangly hooks and shiny bits. Is that right, Larry? Last year we bought a decoy, used for spearing, and there’s a pic and some interesting info in the comments on this post, if you’re interested. We bought these from the same carver as last year; he seems to win lots of ribbons for his work.
There was an article in our local paper today about the decoy show and reading it, I had to stop to wonder if the author was at the same show as my husband and I. It was made to sound like little more than a gathering of gun-toting rednecks! Sure, the taxidermists were there, but it seems to me the reporter totally missed the point. Maybe I turn my head too easily away from the hunting aspect of the show, but that is part of the heritage of the bay region. For all that I might find distasteful about it, I can think of plenty of less wholesome activities people can get wrapped up with.

Anyway, back to the fish – aren’t they nice?