Here, fetch

Here, fetch

Not the first time we’ve celebrated the playfulness of otters in these pages.  This description of the artful animal turning the tables on would-be human tamers is a delight.  You start by throwing a ball and end up being the one who runs to fetch it. But when...
A clutch of bright berries

A clutch of bright berries

Otters seem to be the most nuannaarpoqian of animals and their eye is easily caught by bright objects.  Here a bunch of red berries does the trick, apparently leading to a form of horizontal meditation. Once, I remember, I went to look for him there and at first could...
Otter mockery

Otter mockery

As you may have noticed, I have a soft spot for the playfulness of otters, and a growing collection of examples soon to be gathered together in a dedicated page. In this case, the merry otter watches a human, who had been chasing him, take a tumble and a dip, and...
As punctual as …

As punctual as …

… an otter?  Not the obvious simile, but according to this, true.  This curious fact lies alongside the revelation that when the otter decided it was time to get up, his human handler had to get up to – the animal went through an elaborate process of...
Otter aquatics

Otter aquatics

Otters are playful and their element is water.  Here Gavin Maxwell’s companion Mij, having figured out where the bathroom is, slips between his human handler’s legs and makes a dash for the source of water. By the time I had caught up with him he was up on...
The urge to play

The urge to play

This excerpt from an interview with a Russian writer brought up in Siberia, due to the political exile of her parents, demonstrates the child’s deep need to play and the imagination which led her to create her own dolls, despite poverty, exclusion and general...
Delight in small things

Delight in small things

A personage who takes delight in small things he finds on the wayside – I loved this eclectic selection of things spotted, gathered up, carefully placed and then returned to.  Even in the open countryside he retained his passion for play-things, and would carry...
Ping-pong purposeful

Ping-pong purposeful

The capacity of otters to play and to turn anything they find into a game, is breath-taking.  Here is one, having worked out the ludic possibilities inherent in the physics of ping-pong balls, setting off to entertain himself for an hour or two at a stretch.   You can...
The play of otters

The play of otters

Otters seem to be the most nuannaarpoqian of animals.  Their life skills, resilience, confidence and playfulness captivated me when I read the evocative classic Tarka the Otter, celebrated here with rich pickings of quotes and metaphors.  Another classic, Gavin...
The happiest time of life

The happiest time of life

A beautiful description of the sheer, unbounded joy of being alive in a small mongrel dog who finds herself on the streets of a Russian city. Grossman’s capacity to imagine the mind and feelings of animals is concentrated in this essay and another in the same...
Master of whirlpools

Master of whirlpools

I loved this entrancing description of joyous and playful mastery. Tarka is a splendid character depicted after months of close observation of his kind, by a man disaffected with humanity following the horrors of the First World War. Although often hunted, the animal...
One last game

One last game

Having given birth to cubs, Tarka’s mate goes her own way. But before they part company he calls her to play one last game at the bridge and she joins him there. I liked the timelessness of the otters’ game which Williamson suggests has been played since...
Play time by the brook

Play time by the brook

One of the delights of observing birds and animals is to see them apparently at play. Williamson’s slim, taut and charming classic on otters gives many examples of them playing. Here I liked Tarka’s trying to catch and bite a rope of water twist-tumbling...
Across the divide

Across the divide

We play with dogs and cats and some other creatures.  I used to play with a fox in our garden in London: he made a show of taking my abandoned fleece delicately in his mouth and began pulling it off the table where I’d left it, all the while staring at me to see...
The keen joy of meeting

The keen joy of meeting

Isn’t this a marvelous account of a joyous reunion, including the playful pretence of ignoring each other, the better to extend that first thrill of meeting? You will soon perceive, from this and other quotations from the same book, that I’ve concluded...

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