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Recent news and updates from Michael Ellis.

Summer is Coming






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Hello Everyone:

I have not sent one of these little missives in a while. There is much here to stimulate the mind; I suggest saving this email and taking your time to check out the fascinating  links.

Here is the status of upcoming offerings. Both trips to Brazil/the Pantanal this summer are full, and one of the two trips to Brazil next summer (2020) is already booked! The daylong excursions to the Farallon Islands on August 2 and 9 still have room.  In mid-September The Natural History/Natural Mystery trip to west Sonoma county’s The Cedars has room for only two more folks. The Mono Lake trip in October is wait list only. All three safaris to Tanzania in January/February 2020 are full. I have already started taking reservations for the Tanzania Serengeti trips in February 2021. If you have questions about any of these international trips then please do not hesitate to contact me. They all fill up fast; often 18 months in advance.

My dear friend and soul brother Charles Molleil died last week. I first met him in 2004 when he led my group in Tanzania, and for the last decade we were inseparable on safari in the Serengeti. He was one of the best guides I’ve ever had. He never lost his childlike wonder for the remarkable African wildlife and his enthusiasm for sharing that with others. He was especially skilled at finding leopards. It was uncanny. He seemed to know exactly where to put the land rovers because he could read the minds of leopards as they moved through the bush. He was also strict and strong-willed with the other driver/guides. We nearly lost him two years ago when he had his lower leg amputated due to diabetes. He had to stop guiding then. I’ve been visiting his elementary school and bringing school supplies every year since 2004 and with his encouragement I raised money to build a wall to prevent motorcyclists from cruising through the schoolyard and endangering the children.

We were basically the same age and the tales from his childhood and growing up were horrendous and in sharp contrast to mine. He kicked an alcohol problem and he was deeply in love with his wife and children. He was a very successful businessman and farmer and invested well. He leaves behind many good friends and a whole lot of grandchildren. He had many great stories to tell but one of my favorites involved Fidel Castro. When he was a park ranger he guided the Cubans on safari all of them packing pistols. Charles was a sweet man and I’m going to miss him. If you are interested in helping us with his school projects please send a check made out to me (not Footloose Forays) indicating it is for the school. If you need the tax advantage then contact me I can make that work as well. I plan on creating a plaque to honor Charles and attaching it to the Wall at the school. Thanks 

Here is a recent Perspective on poison hemlock I did for  KQED, San Francisco’s NPR station.
 

And one on Brown Pelicans

A special friend and auxiliary member of the Footloose Forays family will be teaching a class in Sebastopol, CA, on July 6th. Zach grew up among the redwood forests and beaches of the Northern California coaslint.  The pursuit of art and music brought him to NYC and eventually to Tom Brown Jr’s Tracker School where he has completed 10 week-long intensives and which he considers to be the beginning of the education he was always looking for.  He began outdoor guiding and teaching primitive skills/nature connection in 2011 and has since worked for several earth skills programs including the Wild Earth Foundation, Discover Outdoors and the Discover Outdoors Foundation, the Children of the Earth Foundation, Two Coyotes Wilderness School, Urban Kid Adventurers, Mount Victory Camp in the US Virgin Islands, as well as his own company, Earth Living Skills based in NYC and the Hudson Valley, NY.  His fascination with wild edibles and medicinal plants lead him to study herbalism at the Twin Star school of energetic and herbal studies in Connecticut and his studying of indigenous shamanism lead him to begin attending sweat lodges and vision quests with the Hawk’s Nest Quest community in the Hudson Valley.  He may be around more and more in the future, so this would be a good chance to get to know him!

Course description:

The study of Primitive Technology or Traditional Survival Skills is threefold.  First, the practical skills that can keep you alive, back-country and front-country alike.  These are the fundamentals of fire making, shelter building, water processing, and wild food.  Second is the artistry.  The beauty and intricacy of primitive craftsmanship is difficult to replicate.  Whether it be watertight baskets, plant-dyed wool blankets, stone blades, or handmade bows, the artists eye was always involved in any indigenous creation.  Finally, there is the deep spiritual connection that is cultivated from observing, understanding, or even becoming part of the ecosystem.  This one day class will cover all three, from how to make a friction fire to natural fiber processing to understanding bird calls.  

July 6th 10am – 3pm. $50. Please pack a lunch/snacks.
Email zachariasfish@gmail.com for more info and to sign up

Many of my friends send me delightful and/or interesting links and I discover many of them on my own. I suggest you just put this email aside and click on the links at your leisure. I know you will find them all worthwhile. IMHO.

 We only save what we love. 

An ancient American ate the entire rattlesnake including the fangs. Why? 

Don’t read this if you dislike bad news

Paper bags or plastic bags – which is the best for the environment? 

Good news for a change

Amazing art 

I had a gut feeling about this

San Francisco landmarks that still exist only in movies

Long live dung beetles 

Some music for the soul 
 

A poetic reminder of our childlike wonder.
 
A Prayer 
 
I want to be ever a child
I want to feel an eternal friendship
for the raindrops, the flowers,
the insects, the snowflakes.
I want to be keenly interested in everything,
with mind and muscle ever alert, 
forgetting my troubles in the next moment.
The stars and the sea, the ponds and the trees,
the birds and the animals, are my comrades.
Though my muscles may stiffen, though my skin may
wrinkle, may I never find myself yawning
at life.
 
~Toyohiko Kagawa ~

My granddaughter, Alma…

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Falling Forward

Hello All:

It has been awhile since I sent out anything. A lot has happened but I will try keep this blog brief. Here is my latest KQED Perspective on SPECIES. A space just opened up on Natural History/Natural Mystery September 14-16 at the remarkable serpentine lands called The Cedars in western Sonoma County. I am one of the few folks with access to this amazing out-of-this-world place.

I gave another talk at the St. Francis Yacht Club last week, this time on Tanzania. You might actually enjoy this if you have some extra time. Here is a link to the video via Facebook.

This is a video I made to send to the folks that went with me to Brazil this past July. We had a great time and saw many jaguars.

I had the pleasure of visiting Boston for the first time and one of the many highlights was seeing the most amazing glass flowers at Harvard.They were created over 130 years ago by a Czech father and son. Pictures don’t do them justice, but here is one anyway:

My friend Dr. Ava Pommerenk is the founder and facilitator of Chiapas Chocolate Retreats. Who doesn’t like chocolate? Chiapas Chocolate Retreats is a one-of-a-kind, transformational adventure retreat, held in Chiapas, Mexico. The next retreat is scheduled for November 10th through November 17th, 2018.

French park trains crows to pick up litter

Kosher salt truth

A Twilight Zone episode in 1961 presaged the current global warming. Go ROD!

I always wondered why and how birds survived the catastrophic impact 65 million years ago.

A nice blues song. Laura Jean Anderson – Can’t Afford To Lose My Man (by Memphis Minnie)

Here is an excellent graphic showing the spread of the largest fire in California history.

This video about shredding various objects (which is really eco-porn) is strangely mesmerizing.

I  have only had the pleasure of seeing a spotted skunk one time in my life but I would love to see this.

Here is an amazing graph of how the United States uses land.

The political divide has some very interesting FAULT lines

A letter someone wrote to me about the Mojave Desert trip in 1993.

Once upon a time,
When women were birds,
There was the simple understanding
That to sing at dawn
And to sing at dusk
Was to heal the world through joy.
The birds still remember what we have forgotten,
That the world is meant to be celebrated.
– Terry Tempest Williams, When Women Were Birds