Prompt: Arctic











It’s hard to imagine the Arctic cold when it’s 32F and there are waves languidly lapping the sand. Just as it’s difficult to remember the feeling of a hot sun on your skin on a frozen winter day.

Or a teenager utterly unable to relate to an older person; and an older person critical of the young, having lost the memory of being young themselves.

Or a conservative trying to understand a liberal; and a decent, progressive human being trying to understand a Trump supporter.

(That last one doesn’t really work.)

Empathy, which requires imagination and good intentions, seems in short supply these days. That’s why there are such unnecessary divisions in the world: From politics, to art, religion, and generational, environmental, cultural and gender issues.

Trump supporters skew older, among other things, and like Trump, they often resemble the stereotypical angry old man ordering the kids off his lawn. They also tend to be culturally isolated; i.e. live in white communities with very little interaction with Black or brown people. They have a strong sense of entitlement and are hostile towards those who have more than they do— more money, maybe (but America worships the rich in general) but also in terms of education and status. They tend to favour authoritarianism, which is obvious not just in their blind support for Trump, but for their steadfast believe in a God, no matter how outlandishly her commandments are misinterpreted. But mainly, they lack imagination and good intentions.

It’s hard to imagine creatures actually suffering from the effects of climate change. It is much more convenient to side with those for whom the truth is too frightening to consider. It feels better to believe the authoritarian figures —not scientists, but politicians and religious leaders— who soothe their fears about horrific truths at the same time as they stoke fears about imaginary enemies, all the while being manipulated into accepting attitudes and policies that are damaging and harmful to them but which serve the wealthy elite.

Whew. I had no intention of dragging Trump into this post. Let’s step away from the Tr*mp, and browse a few of my favourite cartoons relating to the prompt, “Arctic”:

cartoon arctic american

cartoon eskimo

cartoon dog sled

Stay safe, warm, and imaginative!


White Resigns

Prompt: Never


Dear Wednesday,

Smoke fills the air today as firefighters battle with a fire on the mountain side. At the moment they are concentrating on preventing the spread of the fire and letting the centre of it burn out— and that makes for billowing clouds of pale smoke that drifts and settles up and down the valley.

The roar of helicopter engines fills the air today as they dip down into lakes and then carry their cargo into the fog. I can’t help but feel this is putting out a bonfire with a teaspoon, but I trust they know what they are doing. The heat is scorching and the fire hops from perch to perch, jumping lines in its hunger for fuel.

Meanwhile we float on the lake, lazy spectators of a massive natural drama.

And I ponder today’s prompt, “never” by presenting a few of my favourite cartoons, which may or may not relate to the topic:



white resigns

Peace and love,


One Two Three Four Five

Prompt: Aimless

polar bears

It was, at first, not noticeable. Just some kids fooling around aimlessly. The Sunday sky was unseasonably blue and cloudless, and the zoo was packed with moms, dads, kids, aunts, uncles, lovers, loners, friends, the curious, the bored… The trees were in full leaf, casting dappled shade on the broad pathways and banks of purple iris. It was a perfect afternoon to amble, and look at baby howler monkeys, or zebras trying to mate, or a polar bear, in his white-painted concrete lair, pacing from one end of his raised enclosure, which was separated from the walk by a concrete moat, to the other, and then back again.

That’s what three young people did, right in front of the wire fence and stone railing, paced with their backs to the polar bear but in unison with him. One two three four five– pause– kick. Turn. One to three four five, kick. No pause when the bear was heading east; a pause only on the western pace.

One two three four five, kick. One two three four five, pause, kick. Over and over, back and forth.

An elderly man stood quietly beside them, and handed out two printed 81/2 x 11 sheets of paper stapled together, to people passing by. Some paused, and read the words on the paper, and looked at the polar bear, and at the three teenagers.

Then there were six young people, in a line. A little girl and her mother joined them. The original three moved to the front, making room for six more ghost pacers. Back and forth, silently, in neat lines.

One two three four five, pause, kick. One to three four five, kick. One two three four five, pause, kick. One two three four five, kick.

This Polar Bear, the paper read.

The polar bear, or ursus maritimus, is a mammal native to the Arctic ice sheets and the vast expanses of water that surround them. Their webbed paws make it so they are especially apt at swimming. Polar bears need to swim not only to satiate their carnivorous diet but to maintain a body mass necessary for survival in one of the coldest regions in the world.

Many well-meaning zoo patrons believe that captivity is the solution to the polar bears’ endangered status. Polar bears need their space and should not be kept in a confined area. Captivity revokes its natural instincts. They will never be able to migrate, hunt at night, or claim territorial rights. Captivity can turn out quite badly for the estimated 1,000 of them pacing on the hard, wet stone floor.

Polar bears are known to swim in excess of forty miles across the open sea. They are unable to do that in a small pool that spans less than forty yards. Polar bears are known as solitary creatures, and prefer to take long walks along ice sheets and snow drifts. They are unable to do that in captivity. They can only pace on the hard concrete floor.

In 1992, Bill Travers, the well-known English animal rights activist, coined the term zoochosis to describe the obsessive, repetitive behavior exhibited by animals held captive in zoos. Specifically, this animal-specific psychosis refers to a range of mental problems that are brought on by the stress of captivity and the inability to express natural behaviors. Symptoms of zoochosis include over grooming, neck arching, head swaying, and pacing.

The treatment of this polar bear is not moral, not ethical, and does not benefit the commonwealth.

There are many more animals that need to be saved. The panda bear. The dolphin. Not every animal can be saved but we need to do our best to give back to the animals their purpose. The purpose of the panda bear is to climb the foggy mountains of China, not a tree in a glass enclosure. The purpose of the dolphin is to swim in the vast expanses of the ocean, not in a small, enclosed tank for tourists in an amusement park. The purpose of the polar bear is to gallop along the frozen tundra, not to pace back and forth on the hard, wet stone floor while suffering in silence.

These animals have no voice. Join us. Be their voice. Call the humane society, call your representative, and visit our website.

There were twenty people now, pacing silently with the polar bear, and several hundred gathered around. Spontaneously, ten more people joined the lines, then ten more. Zoo officials stood nearby, talking into cell phones.

More people joined, and then the TV crew turned up. That encouraged more to join the silent protest. A hundred people paced.

One two three four five, pause, kick. One two three four five, kick. Again, and again.

People in the crowd held up their phones, videos were posted to the Internet, to Facebook, to YouTube, to Twitter. Two hundred people now, in silent unison, in sync with a silent pacing, polar bear.

One two three four five, pause, kick.

Once two three four five, kick.