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THE SWAN IN MY BATHTUB by Mary Jane Stretch


And Other Adventures in The Aark

by Mary Jane Stretch & Phyllis Hobe

Pub Date: June 27th, 1991
ISBN: 0-525-24999-0
Publisher: Dutton

Stretch and Hobe (Lovebound: Recovering From an Alcoholic Family, 1990, etc.) tell the story of The Aark, a Pennsylvania rehabilitation center founded by Stretch for injured and abandoned animals and birds. The appealing if artless narrative begins in childhood, when Stretch's mother showed her how to care for the baby rabbits her father's hunting dog brought home. This compassionate child gave birth to an adult whose drive to care for animals saw her—as a single woman who was raising three daughters—caring for raccoons who slept in the girls' beds and shared their breakfast, for fawns who lived in the kitchen, and for a constant host of songbirds, hawks, geese, and bats who were being nursed. Stretch is a thoughtful naturalist whose tough-minded stands—``I don't kid myself about the animals I save. What I do for them allows them to go right back in the food chain''; ``There is a need for the responsible hunter in today's world...there is a need for culling''—will not endear her to the ecologically naive. Her stories about her ``patients''—the reason robins attack windows; cannibalism among hawks; raccoons' favorite pastime (masturbation); the way fawns predict the weather—are fresh with surprises about animal habits. Unsentimental and enjoyable, with a useful appendix on how to be a friend to wildlife. (Sixteen pages of b&w photographs—not seen.)