1. 1.
    traveling from place to place, especially working or based in various places for relatively short periods.
    "the peripatetic nature of military life"
    synonyms:nomadic, itinerant, traveling, wandering, roving, roaming, migrant,migratory, unsettled
    "I could never get used to her peripatetic lifestyle"
  2. 2.
  1. 1.
    a person who travels from place to place.
  2. 2.
    an Aristotelian philosopher.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Subsidies? 'Fur' Sure!

Once in a while it's nice to get off this speeding bullet train called life. From the back porch of our temporary home, the lakeside tree house, we witness progress of a different sort. What we think might be a northern river otter, Lutra canadensis, pops its head up from the muck and chomps noisily on some crunchy morsel. A fish made sluggish by the cold winter water or perhaps a frog venturing forth from the cold mud becomes supper for this member of the weasel family. As I try unsuccessfully to capture it in focus on the camera, I think about the trappers and fur traders who once made a substantial income from its ancestors' hides. 

Beavers, otters, muskrats, and minks were at one time so popular as winter outerwear for wealthy Europeans that our own Congress under President George Washington agreed to subsidize the fabulously profitable fur industry. Something unthinkable today, this subsidy encouraged the slaughter of thousands of animals for the sake of a fashion statement. Thank goodness that was short-lived, the fashion I mean. Subsidies continue in perpetuity even though entrepreneurs like John Jacob Astor proved without a doubt that private industry prevails over the lumbering giant known as Government. Just about anything you can think of in this country is subsidized in part or in its entirety by tax dollars: Education, healthcare, ethanol production, farming, ranching, solar power, wind power, oil and gas production, churches.... Help me out here. I know there are more things to add to the list.

Aristocracy never really disappeared from this country. It just morphed into elitism that preys on sluggish minds: We know what's good for you. We must continue those subsidies, or else!

There is something so massive, stable, and almost irresistibly imposing, in the exterior presentment of established rank and great possessions, that their very existence seems to give them a right to exist; at least, so excellent a counterfeit of right, that few poor and humble men have moral force enough to question it, even in their secret minds. Such is the case now, after so many ancient prejudices have been overthrown; and it was far more so in ante-revolutionary days, when the aristocracy could venture to be proud, and the low were content to be abased....

Nathaniel Hawthorne, The House of the Seven Gables, 1851


  1. What a treat to see the otter. They can be so funny. What kind of bird is in the video?

    Happy New Year to you both!

  2. Hello w2w

    At first I wasn't able to spot the river otter. The picture shows a better camouflage effectiveness!

    You've lost me about subsidy problem. I'm too ignorant to say something about it.

    Wishing you a healthy and fruitful year of the Dragon(in Chinese and Japanese astrology)

  3. Tina, I think the bird is a heron. Evening was coming on, and the light was dim. Thanks and Happy New Year to you!

    Cosmos, we heard the river otter before we saw it, and the visual perspective was only for a moment or two. I think the bird was interrupting the otter's mealtime.

    I'm not sure that I understand the subsidy problem all that well either. It's a complicated issue, no doubt about that. Happy New Year!

  4. I don't know enough about the politics of this to venture an opinion here, but I love the pictures and the video of the landscape of home~ :o) <3

  5. I was shopping for a new winter coat on sale last week and found one I really liked until I saw the fur on the hood was made from real fox fur. Needless to say, I put it back...I thought we had put an end to real fur some time ago.

    Ah...this is why I garden--to forget about politics and all the class conflict these days. I guess some could say I'm burying my head in the sand, but burying my hands in dirt keeps me sane and calmer.

  6. I researched the fur trade for a book I never published. So your post was particularly fascinating to me.

  7. I like the otter better than the voracious psuedo aristocracy these days....

  8. Wow, W2W--how fun to see the river otter! I love spotting birds or animals around our Florida home--or anywhere. I certainly agree that it is better that these and other wonderful mammals are much less hunted for fashion furs than they used to be.

  9. otters seem to live to experience joy, humans could take note

  10. Leigh, I know there's some rule of thumb about avoiding the subjects of politics and religion, but I believe it's meant as a joke. One or the other of them will inevitably pop up no matter the forum. I'm glad you like the other stuff in the post:)

    I feel the same way, Rose, about gardening. Maybe I should install floodlights and heaters outside so I can garden 24/7 this time of year. :>)

    Lydia, maybe you should reconsider publishing it. What little I uncovered for this post was really interesting to me.

    TB, amen, brother!

    Mary, this place we're living at right now has more wildlife for close-up viewing than I imagined possible. The other night we heard coyotes howling nearby. I would love to see them trotting through the yard!

    I agree with you, Wayne. If only life were that simple for humans.

  11. Hello walk2write,

    I recall one scene in the movie whose title I do not remember. A passer-by asks a woman in a fur coat, “Do you know how many animals were killed for your coat?”

    I see the cute face of the otter in your photo, it is following and I feel the speed. I love this photo.
    Thanks a lot for sharing this.

  12. >>...Subsidies continue in perpetuity even though entrepreneurs like John Jacob Astor proved without a doubt that private industry prevails over the lumbering giant known as Government.

    Yep, you got it right! Another good example would be James J. Hill, the man ultimately responsible for The Great Northern Railroad.

    To quote from 'The Real Lincoln' by Thomas DiLorenzo:

    "The Great Northern was a famously efficient and profitable operation; by contrast, the Union Pacific and Central Pacific [which received government subsidies] were so inefficient that they were bankrupt as soon as they were completed in 1869."

    ~ D-FensDogg
    'Loyal American Underground'

  13. Dear Walk2write,
    I read a lot by Hawthorne - such an interesting author who still has to say a lot to us nowadays!