only on vashon – the weekly rundown 12/3/2021

Someone asks if they were hallucinating, or if they really saw a wallaby on the golf course. Could it have been just a tall raccoon? There was in fact a wallaby on the loose. However, they may still have been hallucinating. What if there isn’t really a golf course?

Rumor has it that a male wallaby once attacked an islander in a misguided attempt to mate, so the farm now only has females. 

The wallaby hasn’t escaped in years, because she’s a good girl who doesn’t break quarantine. But, according to an internet sleuth, there have been 11 previous posts about escaped wallabies over the years. 

Ah yes, we all do love a good escaped wallaby.…..or do we???

There is some contention around the wallaby. Is it ok to have an exotic pet from a far away land? Is the pet sufficiently domesticated to be happy in human society, or does she escape because she’s searching for her kind? Is she in danger because she doesn’t know how to avoid traffic? Is it twisted that we islanders find entertainment in exotic animals roaming the golf course? Should we find something better to do with our time? Why don’t we just go to the beach and watch the whales? Are we bad people? 

Here’s the sum total of my knowledge: On the farm where the wallaby lives, she has loads of space and other wallaby friends, as well as dogs and sheep, including a former candidate for mayor. So she seems on the whole rather happy, if a bit adventurous and curious. 

However, the wallaby raises some important questions. (To clarify: the wallaby doesn’t ask these questions herself, she just causes them to be asked.) How do we draw the distinction between domesticated and exotic? Modern horses originated in West Asia and live very happily without human intervention. Are they not exotic? All domesticated animals are the descendants of wild animals that humans wrangled and bred into docility. Is it wrong to continue that process with other, less commonly kept animals?

We all know that SeaWorld is evil and that Lolita should be returned to her pod, so obviously there is a line to be drawn when it comes to animal ownership. But where do we draw the line? Does it have to do with the emotional, intellectual, and social complexity of the animal? If so, how do we quantify those traits? 

I have to admit, I’ve always felt a little weird about keeping pets, on account that animals would be just fine in the wild, but I keep them in a human environment where they need my help because they can’t open doors or cans. But then my cat will rub up against my leg and demand belly scratches, so I think maybe she doesn’t mind too much. She also really likes pipe cleaners, which are a rarity in the natural world but abundant in my house. 

Another point an islander made was that pets can pose a danger to humans. What if someone kept a tiger as a pet?  (True story: While teaching ESL at SCCC, I once had a student who had a pet lion in his home country. He kept him in a glass enclosure in his mansion and took selfies with him through the glass. That was definitely a case where I felt like: that animal should not be a pet. Do not pet that animal.) 

I’ve fallen down the google rabbit hole of exotic pet ownership, and have found this fascinating map. Good news! It’s illegal to keep a cougar as a pet in Washington State. So if you see one roaming free, you have no one to blame (except the entirety of humanity for habitat destruction.)

And if you feel that humans should not interfere with animals, then maybe a vegan diet is right for you. 

An islander is interested in learning about raw vegan diets, and asked if anyone would be willing to meet for coffee to discuss the topic. They were then informed that coffee is in fact cooked, and thus their invitation was a bit off. But, what if “meet for coffee” is just shorthand for “get together in a public setting and meet for a short period of time to chat?” One could, presumably, get a cup of tea in a coffee shop? 

Long ago I ate a vegan diet, but not a raw diet, on account that beer and potato chips count as cooked. I didn’t offer any insight because I imagine the poster would rather talk to someone with a more health-guided mindset. Loads of people in the thread had a holistic view of their diet, where, from a nutritional standpoint, certain foods are better raw while others are better cooked, and seasonality is taken into account. 

I just like that you can post, “Hey, there’s this thing I’m interested in, anyone want to talk about it?” and then suddenly you have 30 new friends. 

Speaking of which, I’m now taking an intensive course in Data Analytics, so if anyone wants to meet for coffee and share their knowledge about data analysis, you know where to find me (at the golf course looking for wallabies).

Anna Shomsky
Author: Anna Shomsky

I'm a former teacher and a data engineer living on Vashon Island. My writing has appeared in Five on the Fifth, Women on Writing and on the Post-Culture Podcast. I wrote and produced the radio show Whispers of Vashon for 101.9 KVSH. I’ve had short stories published in the anthologies Island Stories and Chicken Scratchings, as well as through the Open Space Literary Project.

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