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Anyone who spends her life painting foliage and turns her wooded, British Columbia acreage into a wildlife sanctuary should have no need to endlessly rhapsodize or to write, vapidly, about ""the throb of nature's pulse."" Ward-Harris' excesses only rob her otherwise affecting stories--about caring for abandoned animals and setting them free--of much of their natural charm. She is a conscientious guardian for Vixen the raccoon, Cervus, a Columbian blacktail fawn, and Higi, a squirrel (named after a former housekeeper, Mrs. Higgins), among others. She feeds them a natural diet, treats them with herbal medicines, and--to insure their successful return to the wild--resists the temptation to pet them and make them dependent on her. When she releases an animal she's elated, and then--like any good parent--worries. There are individual stories here too, as Ward-Harris teaches two orphaned barn swallows to fly by setting them on a clothesline and uncorking a bottle of flies (presumably a delicacy) nearby. And there's the sad, sad tale of a lonely mallard who tries to seduce The Admiral, a male goose with clipped wings, after he finds out that his second wife, Judy, has another lover. The sentimentality, even anthropomorphism, is balanced with observation on animal diet, behavior, etc., and discussion of moral issues--such as man's right (including her own) to meddle in nature. But the best parts are the human/animal interactions, plain.

Pub Date: April 18th, 1980
Publisher: St. Martin's