Last night I spent an emotional hour watching Terry Pratchett (Facing Extinction) in the Amazon rainforest. The documentary showed Terry retracing his steps to visit orangutans in the wild.
He last visited in 1994 and the clip of his initial face-to-face encounter with a male orangutan was pure joy. Terry’s determination to help these wonderful animals has been increased, if anything, by his knowledge that time is running out for them and for him. He accepts that despite his positivity and determination, Alzheimer’s is making inroads into his mind and physical capabilities. His heart however is more loving than ever and appears to be growing exponentially in love, compassion and empathy.
Palm oil production is now the virulent destroyer of the orangutans’ habitat. This insidious product is in virtually every processed foodstuff, including most chocolate. I’ll be checking the ingredients list on any Easter eggs before I buy.
At the opposite end of the climate spectrum, back in Derbyshire, today sees the opening of Haddon Hall, near Bakewell. Despite freezing cold and intermittent snow flurries, Haddon, my favourite of all historic houses, is up and running. I love this place for many reasons, not least because the Estate no longer breeds pheasant for commercial shoots.
There is still a flourishing pheasant population, which rather gives the lie to the argument that without such shoots there would be no more pheasants.
Another reason to put this medieval hall at the top of my list is the natural way that the gardens are designed. Wild life is a priority along with wild flower planting and wild garden areas. One of my favourite things to do in the garden is to climb onto a little stone platform and look down, above the trees, to the river below and see things from the birds’ perspective.
As a very apt postscript to the above, back home, I look out of the window and see a BLACK pheasant feeding. Although pheasant have been coming to my garden for 15 years, never before has there been a black one. I’m thrilled and thankful. I think this is the pheasant way of saying they know I’m on their side.