At long last summer has arrived, July Fourth is just around the corner, and temps are rising to unbearable levels. Time to break out the bathing suits and beach towels! And don’t forget to pack a book or two…or seven. Herewith we present a full week’s worth of vacation reading for you fans of our furry friends (including dogs, cats, cows, pigs, sheep, goats, and more) to enjoy while you soak up the sun.
(Click on a book’s cover image to view editions available from Amazon.)
Meet Our Favorite Creatures of the Night
When people think of Halloween, they usually picture pumpkins, bags bursting with candy, and hordes of kids roaming the streets in cute costumes. They also imagine witches, ghosts, ghouls, and all manner of creepy, crawly things guaranteed to make one’s hair stand on end.
This darker side of Halloween stems from its earliest pagan roots, particularly the ancient Celtic festival of Samain. That word in Old Irish literally means “summer’s end,” the season which ushers in the darker half of the year, with its longer, colder nights and gray, lifeless landscapes. For our pagan ancestors, this was a transitional time of year, full of magic and mystery, when the boundary between the world of the living and that of the fearful spirit world was at its thinnest. Thus, occasionally, those creatures of the gloomy Otherworld—deities and demons, ghosts and fairies—would more easily be able to cross over and dwell among us.
Over the centuries other folklores and superstitions attached themselves to present-day Halloween customs, so that now we have quite a menagerie of seemingly monstrous beings to contend with when October 31 rolls around—including certain real-world animals.
Granted, all animals are beautiful in their own way. However, the appearance and behavior of some of these animals lend themselves perfectly to the eerie atmosphere that Halloween inspires. Here are the most popular ones, with a little explanation as to why and how they became associated with Halloween. Continue reading
An engraving depicting animals from the Royal Menagerie at Exeter Change in the Strand. [Source © Museum of London]
Now that the dog days of August are long past and the evenings have started to get ever so nippy, we at Ketchum…wait—dog days
? What does that even mean? What do dogs have to do with August? Curious, we looked it up; and in the process discovered a slew of other interesting animal-related idioms commonly in use in the English-speaking world. Herewith—our favorites. Continue reading
Celebrating Animals for National Poetry Month
Throughout our short but spectacular history, we of the bipedal mammalian species known as Home sapiens have been utterly fascinated by our quadruped cousins in the Animal Kingdom (not to mention our finny friends and wingèd companions on this Earth). For centuries we have written learned books about them, recounted their exploits in ancient fables and folk tales, celebrated them in song, drawn their figures on cave walls and canvas, and we began photographing them relentlessly almost as soon as the camera was invented.
And, it goes without saying, we have composed countless poems about them. The sheer volume of poetry dedicated to our fellow creatures—all manner of flesh, fish, and fowl, from monkeys to microbes, from the common to the exotic, limbless and many-limbed, the living and the extinct, and all inhabiting every corner of this amazing terraqueous globe of ours—is daunting, to say the least. Where to start?
This April, to celebrate National Poetry Month, Ketchum Mfg. Co. showcases just a few of our favorites among the most famous poems about our brother animals—both wild and domestic. Continue reading