Kaleidoscope: Ethnic Chinese writers (2) Fox Grin

Price: $18.64 $13.10 (Save $5.54)
Add to Wishlist

When we admire the beauty of the wondrous creatures of the natural world, do we ever consider that the environment they live in is facing an unprecedented level of intrusion? As the wild animals that inhabit the great forests are ever faster walking towards extinction, let us stretch out a hand of love to attempt to halt their footsteps. Hu Donglin has buried himself in the depths of Changbai Shan for twenty years. In his heartfelt portrayal of the forest inhabitants, be they gorals, bears, sables, foxes, weasels or nutcrackers, he has revealed for us some of the mysteries of the deepest forest. Through his words, he has slowed down their march to annihilation.

About Author

Hu Donglin is a contemporary Chinese writer. Among others, he has been awarded the first China Environmental Prize, Jilin Province Literature Prize, Changbai Mountain Prize and the Chinese Outstanding Children’s Literature Prize. He is the author of a number of Eco-literature works. Due to his long-term observational study of the Changbai Mountain region, he has developed a deep emotional attachment for the local fauna and flora. He has a heartfelt understanding for the need for ecological protection of the region.

Table of Contents
Tidings of Chinese Gorals
Splashes and Splarters
Tales from the Primeval Forest
A Date with the Spotted Nutcracker
The Bobcat River Valley
Fox Grin
Sample Pages Preview
In the past,
People only had to be happy and could turn into animals,
Animals only had to be happy and could turn into humans.
In those times animals were humans and humans were
That is because,
We once all spoke the same language.
(Inuit folk saying)

8:00 am, 23 December 2001
A line of footprints on the snow covered ground wound its way among patches of withered grass. These footprints were neat and orderly, resembling a thread of light grey wool on the white snow that spun off into the distance. I closed my eyes. A timid vibrato cut through my oblivion. I knew that if I followed this subtle sound I would most likely catch a glimpse of the retreating figure of a Wood mouse or a Lacustrine vole. Suddenly, as abruptly as the beat of a timpani, the chain of footprints came to an end. They ended with a shallow dish - shaped hole. Bits of snow and withered grass were scattered around in a haphazard fashion as if they were the remains of a miniature explosion. Half a metre away on either side of the shallow hole several hurried scrape marks were engraved in the snow. With a bit of imagination, the feather pattern could still have been visible in some places. In between these marks, about half a foot away from the hole, was a fan - shaped mark that resembled the head of a broom.

When I returned from Changbai Shan, I called my daughter who is studying in Shenzhen in Grade 7, and recounted this snow print riddle to her. Was it an eagle? My daughter asked. She has always liked to guess riddles since she was small.

It was close. It was Changbai Shan’s great grey owl. Lao Bu, who was with me at the time, confirmed my hypothesis. Lao Bu works as an investigator for the County Environmental Protection Institute. All year round he is out observing wild animals. He said that the prints on either side of the shallow hole were left behind by the owl’s primaries beating against the ground, roughly one metre apart. The print mark at the back of the hole was created by the owl’s tail feathers as it swooped down on its prey and came to an abrupt stop.

This snow print lingered on as the only witness to the great grey owl’s deadly attack. This attack took place in the early hours of the morning. At that time the great grey owl stood by the side of the road, perched on a tall Korean aspen. It has an extraordinary sense of hearing which allows it to hear the subtle rustling sound of rodents treading on withered grass and fallen leaves from as
far as 100 metres away. It immediately swept down without a noise and made the rodent into its breakfast.

After leaving the place of the snow print riddle, we continued trudging on for long time until we finally spotted otter footprints
by the side of a glacier that was known by the name Xiangshui creek. We came here especially to observe otters. The footprints were very fresh. At first glance, they resembled weasel footprints that can be seen commonly on snowy ground. However, otters have webbed feet, which means that we could just about make out the web prints in between its toes. Weasel footprints generally lead in a straight line, as if the creature is eager to get to its destination as quickly as possible. Otter footprints, on the other hand, are characteristic in their irregularity. Otters would always choose to step around ice rifts and circle around ice holes, always delighting in painting small and large circles with their feet, curving here and arching there just like a bouncing note on a musical scale. Their wriggly footprints were scattered all over the glacier. If I had to play out the tune according to this constantly fluctuating music score, it would be a lively and delightful minuet.

(Splashes and Splatters)
Others Also Purchased
Kaleidoscope: Ethnic Chinese writers (2) Fox Grin