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Gunda, the loving mother pig

I have to note that when old friend Lynn and I used to get together, we’d discuss politics, the world, our travels, our interesting, busy, varied lives. A few days ago, as we sat drinking, not rosé but water on my deck, we discussed our varied health problems. I know that’s what old people do; we used to laugh at that. Not any more. Until we’re healthy, our bodies are top of mind. Unfortunate but inescapable.

So today I’m happy to report the latest: they think my ongoing health problems might be because I have an infection in my gut caused by the antibiotics I took to clear the infection in my gut. Plus the first infection is still there. More fun ahead – tests tests tests. 

No complaints; c’est la vie. I’d emailed my doctor and she called in the early evening with this interesting suggestion. Grateful for her attention, with everyone else she has to deal with. 

A part ça, as the French say, the weather is amazing – sunny but cool today, a blessing. I teach in half an hour, then off to the clinic yet again. The other night, I watched Hot Docs’ Gunda, a black and white documentary about life on a Norwegian farm. No words, just animals, the main character Gunda, a mother pig who as we watch gives birth, effortlessly it seems, to about ten piglets who immediately know to suckle. There’s a mishap; she steps on one and perhaps damages his leg, as one of the little pigs later has a limp. But we watch them grow strong and emerge, blinking, from the pen to sunlight. And then they and their mother forage in the field, she always surrounded by a scattered cloud of piglets. It’s gorgeous. 

But there are also cows and chickens. It’s incredibly slow, forcing you to enter the measured rhythm of the animals, and I confess I skipped ahead a tiny bit every so often, laughing to think how long my son, even more impatient than I for action in film, would last. There’s one scene where four cows are standing side by side, head to tail, and you see that the waving tail of one is keeping flies from the face of the one next, whose tail waves over the face of her neighbour. True partnership, brilliant. 

The end is heartbreaking; Mother Pig is left bereft, and we with her. If anything is going to turn me vegetarian at last, besides of course Macca, it’s this film, that brings us into the hearts, minds, and, yes, souls, of animals. I abhor the brutal way we torture and slaughter farm animals – all animals, except our pampered pets – and think that will be the scandal we’re most ashamed of in years to come, as we are bitterly ashamed now of how we’ve treated minorities. I eat little meat but still eat some – would have been vegetarian many years ago except for laziness and disorganization. It just takes more time and energy to figure out tofu and vegetables than to slap a piece of delicious meat in a pan or on some bread. 

Maybe soon, thinking of Gunda the loving mother pig, I’ll make the move.



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About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

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