Wednesday, July 7, 2010

In Which I Admit a Crush on Jacques, and New Found Appreciation for Squirrels

Last month, Turner Classic Movies held a day-long event, showcasing some of the hour-long Jacques Cousteau documentaries made back in the 1970s. I recorded those with any historical aspect to them, or even pseudo-historical or pseudo-scientific (yup, that includes the two-parter on Atlantis--insert cheesy wink here), and have been watching them one at a time in a glorious burst of childhood nostalgia. All I have to do is start the program, and I'm instantly transported back to my parents' living room, bad 1970s hair and all, where I sat watching these when they originally aired. I can even smell my dad's pipe tobacco.

And despite the risk of sounding like a fangirl, I think I have a slight crush on Jacques Cousteau. That cocky little red knit hat, that mauve suit worn to a museum--who but a French man would wear a mauve suit, even in the 1970s? I always thought my inspiration to grow up to be a Nerdy Scientist was National Geographic, and the many, many hours spent pouring over those as a girl (I always thought that would be a great ploy to get a Nat Geo grant--"but you inspired me to become the Nerdy Scientist I am today!" but, alas, alack, to no avail). But as I watch these documentaries, I'm remembering the thrill at hearing someone described as an "historian and explorer" when I was young, and thinking that must be the best life and I Want to Be That. So maybe Jacques and Marlin Perkins both deserve some credit for My Life as a Nerdy Scientist. I'm pretty sure my mother doesn't want to take credit for it.

Have you read the brief article earlier this week in the Science section of the New York Time about gray squirrels? Squirrels are not common out here in the desert. so when I was Back East last month, I enjoyed watching their antics. And I've always liked Squirrel Nutkin. The article reports on some fascinating recent research into squirrel life and behavior. You'll never look at that little guy the same way again. In fact, he may even earn a smidgen of your respect for his adaptability and indestructivenss.

And, if you like gardens, you must read Adam Nicolson's appreciation of living in Sissinghurst (yes, that Sissinghurst).Wonderfully evocative, with phrases like "an orrery of beauty" and "hymn to transience."

1 comment:

  1. "earn a smidgen of your respect"???
    I despise squirrels.
    They serve no discernible purpose - okay, they might have a purpose, but it's blown away by the damage they do and have done to my house, my property and the holes they chewed in my eaves.
    Sorry, this is one animal I could live without ever seeing again...