When I was growing up, for many years, my parents had a subscription to National Geographic magazine. I remember piles of the yellow spines on the bottoms of bookcases and in boxes in the basement. I would spend my time flipping through the articles, sometimes reading but often just looking at the amazing and sometimes eye-opening photographs. I remember articles about aborigines in some of the remotest parts of the world, photos of women with their necks stretched by golden braces (for lack of a better word), children in Peruvian mountain villages in pretty sweaters and surrounded by goats, adventurers in deep, dark, icy caves standing amongst enormous stelactites, and mummies…oh the mummies. I would study their faces as they looked back at me…some friendlily, some desperately, some eerily and others with a trace of hostility…these people from places I had never heard of. I admired or was horrified by their surroundings. Their homes interested me, the mountains behind them caught my eye, the colours, the devastation, the perils all captured my imagination. Many of the photos I can still see in my head today; photos from (I hate to admit it) 30 years ago. To me if an adult magazine can generate that much interest in a 10 year old, it’s pretty powerful.
What reminded me of this? My daughter was asking me about whales, about the different kinds, what they eat (sharks?), if they kill people, how big they are, etc. One of my favourite issues of National Geographic was about whales, Humpback Whales in particular. In that issue they included a vinyl 45…it was very thin, like a sheet of plastic, and when I first removed it from the magazine I worried it wouldn’t play on the record player. But it did and I listened to it endlessly. Whale songs. One of the most eerily beautiful, natural sounds on earth. I wish I still had it to play for my kids…but now I guess there’s YouTube. So without further ado, I will leave you with a video which captures the Humpback songs really nicely. Enjoy. While you’re listening, I’ll be subscribing to National Geographic for my kids (well, and for me too)! Why didn’t I think of this before? (Oh, and by the way, National Geographic is not paying me to say this…I’m just enthusiastic!)
This is an interesting video about Blue Whales that I found while looking for the Humpback songs. You may want to check it out too.