At my grandmother’s table there was an unspoken three-serving minimum. If you ate less than that or paused too long mid-meal to converse, you were met by Grandma Ritter’s penetrating look of worry followed by a “What’s wrong?” The lesson was clear: dodging a serving of dumplings was tantamount to rejecting a hug.
This food-as-love ethos has crossed generations-and species. I was not the only creature subjected to heartfelt feedings. My grandparents lived in Quebec’s Eastern Townships and took it upon themselves to provide sustenance for the local fauna. There were cardinals, blue jays and woodpeckers. There were also raccoons, deer, skunks and the occasional fox.
Every evening, my grandparents would prepare platters of food to set outside their picture windows. As a girl, I delighted in watching the nightly banquet. I now know that feeding wild animals can be harmful to them, but I understand what motivated my grandparents: a desire to nurture nature.
Grandma Ritter would have loved this month’s profile of Kevin Richardson (“The Lion Whisperer”), who is working to protect Africa’s big cats. Richardson’s relationship with these animals is unique-they accept him as part of the pride. He is on a remarkable mission.
Our own Robert Goyette is on a different mission, exploring Australia and its outback. He returns next month.
-Dominique Ritter, Managing Editor