By Rosalie Tirella

I found this National Geographic issue in the seconds bin. …

Jane Goodall … so young and gifted

Was planning to peruse at the dog park today, but we had to leave a bit early.

Jett and Lilac at the dog park

… Baby Boomer gals, remember when we all wanted to be Jane Goodall? Young, beautiful and intelligent … sleeping beneath the fine fine mesh of mosquito netting deep in the jungle, washing our long hair in pristine streams, communicating with wild animals, the chimpanzees, getting to know each one’s personality … Magical. Jane watched her chimps with obsessive love. We were 8 and 9 years old and obsessed with Jane’s adventure. She was soft spoken and gentle with her chimps yet determined, strong in her scientific quest. Terrific role model.

Romantic and scientific

I met Jane Goodall after a lecture she gave at Mechanics Hall in downtown Worcester about 25 years ago. She was older but still beautiful. We smiled and said hello. My friend who came along was a bit more confident. In the receiving line she decided to glom on to Goodall. No, a handshake or autograph was not good enough for Sue. She was an observer of animals, too. She told Goodall she could relate to her! Knew exactly how she felt in the African jungle for she too watched – watched her cats – interact outside her farm house – and THEY FASCINATED HER! She began a one-sided conversation with Jane Goodall, much to my embarrassment …with 100 or so people behind us in line waiting to meet Jane, too!

My friend, good natured and a true animal lover, could not leave Jane’s side. I watched terrified. WOW. My friend was hogging Jane Goodall all to herself! How bal*sy! Two feet away from me! Goodall was so gracious … A night to remember.

We Baby Boomer kids were fed a steady TV-show diet of animal shows: Dak Tari, Mutual of Omaha Wild Kingdom, National Geographic specials, Born Free movies, Flipper. I watched them all, falling in love with all animals … I pressured my sweet mom into filling our Lafayette Street apartment with critters from Woolworths pet section: newts, turtles, guinea pigs, hamsters, mice… eventually cats, dogs … all mine. My sisters weren’t animal curious. They stayed away from the little turtles I let run wild on our linoleum kitchen floor. My mom shuddered every time I walked around our flat with my pet mouse Gigi tucked inside my shirt pocket.

Here it is a half century later and I want another dog or two, large, big boned, wolf-like. Lately, my best moments, are in nature: quiet and deeply personal, with my dogs … Drinking a cup of McDonald’s coffee, early in the morning, walking at Butler Farm to the dog park, the grass sopping with dew, my shoes soaked in five minutes … quietly the day begins, the sunlight looks pale, tentative … the birds are noisy in the intense, enveloping silence of a new day. Mystery achievement.
At the dog park …