"Oh, Ferdinand the bull." Smiling, that's what my friend Colleen said when I told her the story behind this photo.


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The Wikipedia entry for "The Story of Ferdinand" begins with:

"'The Story of Ferdinand' (1936) is the best known work written by American author Munro Leaf and illustrated by Robert Lawson. The children's book tells the story of a bull who would rather smell flowers than fight in bullfights. He sits in the middle of the bull ring failing to take heed of any of the provocations of the matador and others to fight.

The book was released nine months before the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War, and was seen by many supporters of Francisco Franco as a pacifist book. It was banned in many countries, including in Spain. In Nazi Germany, Adolf Hitler ordered the book burned, while Joseph Stalin, the leader of the Soviet Union, granted it privileged status as the only non-communist children's book allowed in Poland. India's leader Mahatma Gandhi called it his favorite book."

Interestingly, Walt Disney, an ardent World War II anti-interventionist, produced the cartoon "Ferdinand the Bull" in 1938 which subsequently won the Academy Award for Best Short Subject (Cartoons). Coincidence? You decide:


Last week, I was watching a brown bear and her two cubs delicately dig for clams on a beach in Alaska. One of the cubs was halfheartedly pawing at the ground but then stopped,

   looked up,

      ambled fifty yards to the beach,

         sat down,

            and gazed out at the ocean.

For five minutes.

On its derriere.

Just like a human.

It never looked back or side to side -- it just calmly sat and stared straight ahead.

What was this young cub thinking? Hearing? Feeling? Smelling?

Did it like listening to the waves?

Feeling the tranquility?

Smelling the ocean?

Just like Ferdinand?

Just like us?

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