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May 21, 2023Liked by Pádraig Ó Tuama, Poetry Unbound

My small encounter has grown into a source of comfort and joy to me as I struggle with fear every day from health issues, money worries, a larger world seemingly in chaos and on fire: A year or so ago I was walking on a wooded trail near my city's medical center and came upon an elderly woman like me walking two small black dogs on a joined leash. She was kind of bent over, but as I approached I could see that she was tall and sturdy and I said Hi and we began to chat. She's 85 years old and walks every day; I'm 75 and do likewise -- we get together now once a week or so to walk together. Unlike so many older people I know, she is still curious and often researches new trails for us to walk in the city. I respond by setting up small adventures for us, always with a walk, usually ending in the trial of a new coffee shop. She is probably the nicest person I've known in years, appreciates dry wit, and tolerates my endless info dumping into her email. We're different in many basic ways -- she's religious and active in her church; I'm not, but she is one of those rare souls who live their religious beliefs rather than proselytize. I have a habit of greeting people I meet on the medical center trail where I walk frequently and usually they respond as we pass; occasionally, as with my newish friend, they stop and we talk.

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How wonderful Meredith - thank you. I love the images you make of your walks, and how different you are, and how regular these walks have become. I feel like you brought us with you!

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Your initial encounter was obviously just the outside edge of a meaningful relationship, the glorious benefit of a small "hello."

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founding

How beautiful!!

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Meredith, this is a lovely story. Amazing of you to open yourself and reap the reward of a meaningful friendship.

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May 21, 2023Liked by Pádraig Ó Tuama

If you knew my friend, you'd see how easy it is to be friends with her -- she really does all the 'heavy' lifting ...

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How lovely to praise a friend so.

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Over a dozen years ago, walking around my neighbourhood, I noticed a small board outside someone’s house. There was a short poem written on it. I don’t remember the poem but I do remember the small thrill of recognizing a possibility. I could do this! I’d been reading more and more poetry, coming home to it really, after encountering the poetry of the late Bronwen Wallace. She taught me that poetry can be extraordinary even when the subject might seem ordinary. And so much more. I resolved to choose an extraordinary poem each week and put it on a chalkboard outside my house. I did just that. My first poem was Emily Dickinson’’s There Is No Frigate Like a Book. My poetry board has opened up the world of poetry to me. I read deeper and wider. And, wonderfully, I’ve met so many people who read the poems! Some folks walk or drive by just to see the new poem of the week. Every Sunday night - a different poem! Yes, it’s changed my life.

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May 21, 2023·edited May 21, 2023Liked by Poetry Unbound

This just changed mine. Thank you

After reading this I immediately went on-line and bought a plexiglass stand and I'm going to do this! We live on a main road at the end of our main street in a rural town . Our house fronts a cemetery. I am going to post a poem a week called the The Little Free Poetry Reading: Between a Rock and a Hard Place between the large rock and fence by the road in front of our house. What an inspirational idea!

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I love the Rock and Hard Place! Thank you for this. I hope you enjoy it!

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May 22, 2023·edited May 22, 2023

I am excited about this. I already picked out the first poem. Too obvious would be Robert Frost because he lived the next town over. He will be 2nd!

I picked a poem written by the first woman poet laureate of New Hampshire US and she was the 2nd laureate to be chosen in the state. Thank you so much for this Annie.

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May 21, 2023Liked by Poetry Unbound

I love this idea of posting a poem regularly outside my house. I might add this next to my little free library. Thank you.

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When I was a student at the University of Toronto in 1989 I was introduced to the work of Bronwen Wallace by my husband, who at that time was going to Queens and whose prof was a friend of Bronwen’s. I’ve never forgotten the first time I read her work. She also taught me that the most extraordinary/beautiful poem can come from noticing and putting into words the most ordinary moment.

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That’s it. She died so young…was just breaking into fiction writing, I think. So loved here in Kingston. She certainly saw those tiny pieces of life and captured them.

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What a creative and warm thing to do! I always admire people who translate their thought(s) into something concrete like that; so many of us have a fleeting good idea and then it's gone. It's like the difference between pixels and printed words ... sort of.

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What a very lovely idea!!

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founding

Wow! I love this. Thanks for sharing.

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Love Poetry Unbound. And love this question.

In my mid-twenties, my body started failing and no one had answers. Unable to afford healthcare in the United States, I moved abroad and started trying all kinds of things. These "things" included daily acupuncture from Dr. Wang — a Chinese doctor who barely spoke English.

I didn't really "believe" in acupuncture back then but figured I had nothing to lose. Now, more than two decades later, my body is healthy. Also, I'm a Doctor of Chinese Medicine.

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Oh thank you for this Dana Leigh - how fascinating that it was such a response to your own needs that led you here.

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So glad acupuncture and probably the rest of Chinese medicine's fabulous inventory worked for you; I've always wished more Western practitioners incorporated it into their practices. And, congratulations on your doctorate!! I bet it's very much fun.

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Thank you, Meredith! And yes—herbs, diet, and lifestyle are more than half the medicine (acupuncture was merely my entry).

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Amazing!

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Nice!

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May 21, 2023Liked by Poetry Unbound

I stumbled across a Mary Oliver poem somewhere in my reading… which led me to want to learn more about poetry (for fun this time… not for a grade😉) which led me to Poetry Unbound, which led me to Padraig, and then all of you. Sundays haven’t been the same ever since. Thank you for all of your inspiration to take the road less travelled.

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So many good things start with Mary Oliver

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Right?? Sundays are born anew!🌱

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When I was about 9 my father, who was a chaplain in what we used to call then a “mental hospital,” took me up to a locked ward to meet a woman I’d been seeing in hospital church services every Sunday. She was Deaf, and met up every Sunday with another patient, from a different building, and the two would chatter in sign language during the service. When I met her, my dad asked her to teach me the “three most important words.” She chose mother, bread, and girl. She then taught me to fingerspell. At 9 no one could have known or guessed that this chance encounter would be the foundation of my life’s work. Eventually I took a master’s degree from Gallaudet University, the university of and for Deaf people in Washington DC. Soon after I joined the English Department faculty there, and taught for many years. At the same time I was certified as a professional sign language interpreter and am still doing that work 44 years later in my septuagenarian semi-retirement. All stemming from the curiosity of a child and the generosity of a troubled woman.

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And I would add also, the insight of a thoughtful father who saw past what the common lens views. How fortunate you were/are.

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How I appreciate that insight…

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This share points to something so vital and missing often in parenthood. How important it is to protect our children but not shelter them. Teach them to take cautious risks into unknown encounter and stay safe enough to know how to venture and explore and engage

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What a lovely gift. ThNk you for sharing

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Oh, this is so beautiful! A distant cousin, Henry, worked in the print shop at Gallaudet; a few summers he traveled back to visit. I remember as a child how emphatic was his “voice” in signing!

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When? Last name?

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He would have visited us in the early 1970s, and he already had graying hair and glasses at that time. I was under 10 years old. I don’t have anyone to ask, as my family of that generation has all passed on. I want to say Henry Rogstad, but I am not sure that is correct.

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May 21, 2023Liked by Pádraig Ó Tuama, Poetry Unbound

Writing. I never thought I would be a writer, even though I have been doing a lot of it for a long time. I always thought I would have something else as my main thing. I think I was becoming a writer without knowing it. Recently this has become apparent to me and I have embraced it as my vocation, the thing I feel I'm supposed to do. Funny how things sneak up on you like that.

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How lovely to hear this Jack - I like that writing is what happened while you were pursing the ends of writing. How good. Thank you.

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Looking forward to the new season of the podcast!

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Lovely to hear from you, Pádraig.

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Congratulations, what a wonderful discovery.

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Discovery is a good word for it. Something that was there all along but just needed to be found.

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Jack, I'm happy for you, and with your choice. And the results!🌱

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Your support is much appreciated!

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May 21, 2023Liked by Pádraig Ó Tuama, Poetry Unbound

Placing shards of glass and broken pieces of tile into pleasing arrangements is the process of building mosaic art. My daughter and I one evening gathered with an acquaintance to help fill in background on a large work that would come to cover a pillar in an alley filled with art. Seven years later, I am still engaged with the art and the friends!

Community mosaic building has created a bond of friendship and connection with others. Choosing and placing colors, textures, sizes, and shapes of tesserae (the small pieces) helped my mind focus on creating beauty for periods away from the mean and hard parts of these times.

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I've always loved mosaics. I met a woman once who kept every broken cup or plate or saucer in the family, knowing that it'd find its way into a mosaic (and it eventually did).

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Yes, I also have a broken cup “graveyard” in back of the house! And I’m excited for the new season of Poetry Unbound to accompany my walks!

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founding

Oooh! How beautiful. I’ve been holding onto a small pouch of shards of broken glass and ceramic - all with the plan to make a mosaic tabletop with my niece, but I have been putting it off, looking for the best YouTube tutorial, etc etc... also lacking the oomph to get it going. Your sharing has given me the oomph! Thank you for the inspiration.

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Wonderful! I sometimes find one can spend so much time trying to make sure that we do it the “right” way, but as I read I find there are many ways that work!

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I love that idea; perhaps I'll find something like that where I live. When I was growing up in the 1950s in Florida, our 6th grade teacher had our class 'build' a mosaic -- a big one, as I recall -- and I think it was mostly celebrating our relationship with the sea and its creatures ...

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May 21, 2023Liked by Pádraig Ó Tuama, Poetry Unbound

A small encounter with Lab Girl by Hope Jahren...

Hope Jahren dares us to be citizen scientists: Go outside, find something green, maybe a leaf...ask questions. I did. I found cedar leaves, maple leaves, dogwood leaves, and more. I studied them. I painted them. I wrote about them. I was fascinated with these lungs of the forest. Finally an understanding landed; leaves are master teachers of reciprocity. They show us kindness with giving oxygen and absorbing carbon dioxide. The gift of breath.

Jahren's " I dare you to look closely" gave me permission to be a citizen scientist and to share my journey on Matters of Kinship.🌱

Padraig, thank you. Always.

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Looking closely - what an invitation to everything - the wall of a room, the leaf, the contours of your fingertips. Thank you Katharine.

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Adding that one to my summer reading list!!

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I love this book. It also changed the way I thought about mental illness. Her story is incredible.

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I read her about once a year. I love how she speaks of seeds...willing to wait!🌱

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May 21, 2023Liked by Pádraig Ó Tuama, Poetry Unbound

In my past work-lives I always kept my office door open and people "happened by" for me to listen. A wise woman noticed this thread about me, encouraged me to learn more, and now I listen full time. Now I help others see the threads.

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Mary, so much of my current role is deep listening and I underrate it and sell it short sometimes. Thanks for reminding me of its importance.

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It is the best gift, the best practice of wholeheartedness. It’s one of those little things that is very very big.

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I have been thinking about this a lot lately, noticing the little bit I hadn’t thought about the importance in terms of listening, which is really not so little after all

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It started with four boards and a few bags of dirt. I had been asking for a while for a raised bed on the sunny flat land at the back of our large backyard. The pots of tomatoes close to the house had always been decimated by the birds and squirrels. It was already June – late to be starting a garden in the south but husband and son finally built it for me. We got our first tomatoes, peppers, squash. It was a revelation. The boxes expanded and a couple years later we offered the rest of the flat sunny backyard to the neighborhood school our children had already graduated from to use for their new urban agriculture program. My husband put in fruit and nut trees. The school planted permaculture guilds around them, built an asparagus patch and rows and rows for all manner of vegetables, herbs, flowers, and berries. We built them a chicken coop and became wary of the hawks we had admired in the past. Our backyard was always full of children, teachers, activity. I took classes in organic gardening and permaculture. The school program grew and grew and finally outgrew our yard but we were forever changed. I am now a committed gardener, composter, and canner. I cannot imagine a day without time in the garden, weeding, nursing seedlings, mulching, sifting compost or in the kitchen – making jam or onion powder, chestnut flour, all manner of pickles. The school program now has 5 acres and works across the city – but we are perhaps the most changed and so much larger, connected now to the dirt, the seasons, the moving sun across the year. Profoundly grateful.

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What a lovely life you have! And, all because you reached out and started expanding it ... I'm envious in a good way :)

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This is phenomenal!!

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What a legacy!! How wonderful of you to share!

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Have you read Gardening at the Dragon’s Gate by Wendy Johnson? It’s out of print but worth the search. 🌱

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I put this on my too read list. I love the story of your garden. I’m thinking a lot about my role as a gardener these days and how to use gardening to create a more balanced ecosystem. I wrote about it here- it includes some book recs you both might like. https://pocketfulofprose.substack.com/p/may-it-break-your-heart

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No, but it sounds wonderful. I will search it out. Thank you!

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May 21, 2023Liked by Pádraig Ó Tuama

I have been moved again and again by Gate A-4 and by other of Naomi Shihab Nye's poems. I began intentionally working at learning to write poetry in my late 60's. The Great Smokies Writing Program, an offering of UNC-Asheville, provided the opportunity to study with several accomplished poet/teachers: Cathy Smith Bowers, Ken Chamlee, Tina Barr and Eric Nelson. I also twice audited Ken Chamlee's poetry workshop at Brevard College. I did everything the undergraduates did including writing a research paper. The first year I chose Nye as my topic. That study introduced me to the work of her mentor, William Stafford. When I repeated the workshop several years later, I made Stafford the subject of my paper. Poetry has turned out to be the thing that has made a huge part of my life, something I would not have anticipated all the years I was raising a family and practicing law. Earlier researching family history was a passion. A few years ago I began to marry the two interests by writing minute (60 syllable) poems based on ancestors and events I had uncovered. My chapbook Minute Men And Women was published in 2021.

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May 21, 2023Liked by Pádraig Ó Tuama

Hello friends in Western North Carolina! I’m in Weaverville. Also love Naomi. I guess you’ve seen that Padraig will be in Hendersonville in a few weeks!

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May 21, 2023Liked by Pádraig Ó Tuama

Yes, I know Padraig will be at Kanuga. I do so wish I could be there. Not only do I no longer live in WNC, I will be in MT that week.

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Greetings from Black Mountain.

I appreciate Nye so much.

Great comment/story!

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Thank you for your affirmation. I'm back in coastal Georgia now but so grateful for my time with the poetry community in western North Carolina.

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Thank you for subscribing. Truly.🌱

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Tina Barr is your neighbor.

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Greetings from Black Mountain.

So full of wonder for Naomi, and your comment. 🌱

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During the pandemic, my rabbi and the music director at my synagogue started offering morning mindfulness sessions, every weekday on zoom. I was slow to join, but once I did, I became absolutely devoted. In fact, it’s three years later, and I’m the co-leader of Mindful Moments. I join nearly every day, I lead weekly, and it informs all aspects of my work. I made friends at Mindful Moments I still haven’t met, because they live far away. We have 12-20+ attendees every day, 5 days a week. Just extraordinary. In fact, I learned about you from my music director, who shared some of your work on Mindful Moments.

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I would like to know more too.

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May 21, 2023·edited May 21, 2023

I would love to know more about this. I'm a cantor and may know these colleagues. Also I love this idea!

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My father was the neighborhood handy man when I was growing up. He’d tackle almost anything. I bought a needy home in my 20s, 50 years ago when those kind of things were still possible. At 70 I still offer helping construction hands to neighbors and kids. Over the years this has become a creative outlet for me.

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If only you were my neighbor. What a gift!

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Those skills are rare. You are generous.

My father did not think I would need those skills so my search for a mentor was lengthy but so rewarding. I love knowing a bit about working with tools around the house.🌱

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Well Padraig - I read Lifeline before writing this and my answer is only intensified. My small thing, my lifeline is my garden. The memories of my Italian grandmother and bringing forth vegetables and flowers from the dirt with her as a child are a steady anchor of memory. The smells of the earth, of her sweat - the feel of the sun on our backs is with me always. My wife of 44 years died about a year ago. She also loved the garden - the beauty of it - but not so much the work because of her growing infirmities. Now that she too is gone - I garden with them both. In the sun, with my sweat. For the memories, for the anchor of beauty.

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I hope you feel your wife with you today while gardening. Thank you for sharing.

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This is so beautiful Jim. From one gardener to another.

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I really love Poetry Unbound. Thank you for your work bringing us the podcast!

My small thing that became a big thing is bike commuting. When I moved to a city and my car became impractical, I started biking to my job. The forced daily exercise taught me how much moving my body helps my mental state, and it helped me connect with life in a way that wasn't in my head. Now, after bike commuting for several years, I notice when I first hear wind in tree leaves in the spring. I know in a visceral way that stability and balance sometimes come from motion and flexibility, not from being immovable.

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It started with telling my sister and her friends that it is absolutely not okay to torture a frog just to find out if they can make a ballon out of it.

It continued with helping snails to cross their path without being trampled to death, catching spiders in a glass to set them free outside of a residential room or feeding an abandoned dog on a thai island.

Today I am looking after cats and dogs and other animals while letting them

feel that they are equal.

They deserve our respect, our acknowledgment and our care.

I would have never thought that animals can often be better friends than human beings because of their impartiality, directness and unconditional love.

They seem to play such a small part in this world of human dominance but for me they are so very important when it comes to naturalness and honesty.

I often wonder how it became that I do trust animals more than human beings.

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Trusting humans is definitely hard! We are the ultimate invasive species on the planet.

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indeed!

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