Welcome to Charity Sunday for the month of March. If you’re here, you probably already know how this works. On Charity Sunday, authors and bloggers post about some cause or charity that is close to their hearts. They pledge a donation for each comment they receive. In order to make it worth while for people to visit and comment, we also try to include an entertaining, sometimes relevant, excerpt from our work.
Today I’m highlighting the work of the World Wildlife Fund.
The WWF panda logo will be familiar to many of you, but you may not be aware of the scope of the organization’s work. WWF not only funds efforts to protect the world’s biodiversity, but also has initiatives devoted to climate action, food security, forest conservation, fresh water, and ocean conservation. The organization works to help local communities conserve the natural resources they depend upon; transform markets and policies toward sustainability; and protect and restore species and their habitats. WWF wants to ensure that the value of nature is reflected in decision-making from a local to a global scale.
Many of my Charity Sundays are devoted to causes which assist humans suffering from poverty, disasters, or oppression. This Sunday I wanted to highlight the fact that human destiny is inextricably linked with the future of nature and our environment.
I also chose WWF because they’re very active in elephant conservation. One of my closest friends celebrates her birthday today, and she dearly loves elephants. So this post is dedicated to her.
For every comment I receive on this post, I will donate two dollars to WWF. I urge you to go explore their extensive website. It will get you thinking about the connections between our daily actions and the fate of our planet.
Meanwhile, here’s an excerpt from my most recent release, my Asian Adventures boxed set. This has nothing to do with wildlife, but it does celebrate some of the wonders of nature.
Excerpt (from “Dragon Boat Blues”)
“Good afternoon, everyone.” Like most of the Vietnamese I knew, he was slightly built and wiry. Despite the humidity, he wore a long-sleeved business shirt buttoned at the cuffs and collar. “I hope you enjoyed your lunch.” One of the Chinese translated for his friends, and they all applauded. “This afternoon, we will cruise through some of the two thousand islands on our way to visit Trinh Nu and Sung Sot caves. Trinh Nu, or Virgin Cave, is a famous place for lovers. And beautiful Sung Sot truly deserves its nickname of Amazing Cave. Both are on the same island. We will anchor in the bay, then take a smaller boat to the shore.”
“Oh, dear, Lydia.” Stan turned to me. “Are you going to have trouble with that?”
“We can carry you, if necessary,” added Phil with a chuckle.
“I’m sure it won’t be.” I couldn’t help grinning at their energy. “Thanks for the offer, but I’m used to doing things on my own.”
I was, too. I’d had more than seven years to learn.
The guide continued outlining our itinerary. After the caves, there’d be kayaking—definitely not for me—and swimming. The following morning we’d be taken on a trip through the mangroves to a third cave, Thien Long and in the afternoon, visit famous Cát Bà National Park. It all sounded pretty strenuous. Well, I could always stay onboard and read the thriller I’d picked up at the airport.
After Van finished his spiel, most of the passengers moved to the front of the boat to enjoy the view. I settled into a chair under a red and gold striped awning. From my shady seat, I had a fine view of the craggy limestone formations that erupted from the gleaming water on either side. Some were bare rock, but many were carpeted in vivid green. Lush growth clung to fissures in the gray stone—prickly shrubs, stunted trees, and tangled vines that hung over precipices like verdant lace curtains. Some islets were shaped like teeth of the dragon that gave this bay its name. Others recalled elephants, turtles, rabbits, even the symmetry of a woman’s breasts.
Truly, the scene was as magical as the tour agency had promised. Mellow from the wine, I relaxed and let the glorious landscape slide by. A cool breeze dried my sweat. When we passed one of the formations, close enough that I could see birds nesting in the hollows halfway up the green cliff, the spicy scent of some herb reached my nostrils.
We threaded our way among the dramatic outcrops, the still surface of the bay mirroring their irregular forms. Though other junks kept pace with ours on either side, there was little noise. A sense of peace and well-being enveloped me.
Phil and Stan sat side by side on a bench in the narrow angle at the very front, leaning against the base of the magnificent carved dragon that formed the ship’s prow. They didn’t touch. Nevertheless, even at a few yards distance, I sensed the magnetism drawing them together. I would not have called either of them handsome, but their aura of happiness made them appealing to watch.
Stan was probably in his mid-forties, I guessed. Phil looked at least ten years younger. There was nothing effeminate about either one.
Big without being fat, Stan moved with the solid confidence of a man who was comfortable in his own skin.
His lean, loose-limbed partner radiated a physicality that made me think of a tennis player or a runner. He gestured expansively and laughed often, never quite still. It was difficult for me to imagine Phil cooped up in an office.
Stan noticed I was watching. He smiled and pointed to an empty seat next to him. I grinned back, shaking my head. I was far too comfortable to move.
Before long, a much larger island loomed ahead. Two thickly forested capes reached out like arms to embrace us. Our ship slipped between them, into the sheltered lagoon they enclosed. The crew scuttled about, releasing the anchor, partially furling the scarlet sails and readying the dinghy at the stern. I was pleased to discover that the smaller boat could be raised and lowered by a pair of winches. That would make excursions much less of a problem for me.
Indeed, getting to the shore was a snap. With the help of a sturdy gangplank and a permanent dock, not to mention Phil’s strong hand, I clambered out of the dinghy without difficulty.
The guide led us up a narrow path through the forest toward the cave mouth. The way was steep but smooth. With my cane, I could manage. We gathered under a limestone overhang while Van related the tragic legend of the fisherman’s daughter who had given the cave its nickname. I half-listened, absorbed by the breathtaking view. The little harbor stretched perhaps a hundred feet below us, studded with red sails, framed by green foliage. Further in the distance, the dragon’s teeth rose out of the water, hazy in the mist.
The scene was timeless perfection. It might be worth the entire cost of the trip.
Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08XW69V2R
Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B08XW69V2R
Add on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/57297921-asian-adventures
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