This is where we place the testimonials and reviews we've received for our book, "Ancient Allies."
A couple nights ago I drove down my tree-lined driveway and saw four white-tailed deer in the yard. Two were lying calmly, the other two grazing leisurely. I slowed and watched a while, until they got nervous and ambled away, hardly even lifting their bright tails!
The week before, while sitting on my back deck reading the paper and casually watching birds, I saw a summer tanager race toward the deck, zip through the posts and bang into the window. Followed immediately by a sharp-shinned hawk, trying to grab the tanager with his talons. Both hit the window, tumbling tail feather over teakettle! Each sat a moment and then flew off, in different directions! I stared after them with a big “wow” on my face!
Every day, we see or experience animals. Wild animals, domestic animals, zoo animals, even pests. Some we ignore, some we watch enthralled, some we interact with.
A delightful new book, by Sharon Cindy Cameron and Lenn Cameron, describes in fascinating detail a series of interactions and observations between people and animals. “Ancient Allies,” Balboa Press, is written with touching empathy and is illustrated with numerous eye-catching - and sometimes mesmerizing - photos of animals, in all sorts of circumstances.
Movingly dedicated to a sensitive Siberian husky named Loki (sorry, one may need to bypass the spiritual premise), the book moves through experiences with celebrated animals at the San Francisco Zoo, darling domestics at Blue Cross Pet Hospital, and incredible animals in the wilds of the Bay Area.
The authors’ stories are related with a sympathetic, even captivating sentiment. Tales of a dog’s rescue, a cat’s attachment to a nonagenarian, the astonishing birth of a giraffe, a lion‘s legacy, the longest-lived zoo polar bear, a hitch-hiking bee - all capture what can be an ethereal bond between ourselves and the animal world. It is a bond many of us feel and experience, but is sadly missing from too many of our fellow humans.
Personally, I most liked the fascinating and amazingly photographed stories of hawks, ravens, and gulls (apologies again, we should not call them seagulls). They were delightful in their antics, and the stories adorable in their appeal. It is a certainty that the more often we are out watching wildlife, the more likely we are to see startling and wondrous behavior. Clearly, the authors spent significant periods of time doing just that.
Ravens make entertaining appearances throughout the book, both in the stories, and with intermittent photos, well, excepting the near death experience! It seems fitting. Ravens have, after all, become somewhat ubiquitous in San Francisco over the last decade. However, I do not attach any metaphysical connection, as the authors at times seem tempted to do. They are, after all, merely ravens, very intelligent birds who have myriad curious behaviors.
I also admit a prejudice against ravens’ ability to contact extraterrestrials. (A shame, wouldn’t that be fun?) And, while I’m at it, I disapprove of feeding pigeons or ducks (though having several bird feeders, I’m on thin ground there!).
But I wholeheartedly applaud the connection the authors make between people and animals, the very deep respect for our “allies.” We have done too much to displace, endanger, and otherwise jeopardize the plant and animal life on this earth. We’ve driven many animals to extinction, and far too many to the very brink. If more people were as sympathetic and sensitive as this book demonstrates, what a difference there would be. The solace animals bring to us - whether a cat on our belly, a raven frolicking above, or an octopus maneuvering in the Bay - can calm us, amuse us, inspire us, strike us with awe. Surely we owe it to these many species to appreciate and preserve them. “Ancient Allies” gives a wonderful window into the many ways that appreciation and connection can be manifested. I recommend it for all of us who either have, or need, that connection.
May 24, 2018
David Anderson is a conservation biologist who worked at the Duke Lemur Center and the Audubon Zoo in New Orleans. He also served as Executive Director of the San Francisco Zoo, Director the Florida state program for the National Audubon Society, and as a consultant with the Bay Institute in San Francisco. He is retired and lives in Durham, North Carolina, where he serves on the board of the regional Audubon Society, travels extensively to see birds, and plays drums in a rock ‘n’ roll band!
Len and Cindy bring us a beautiful rendition of the power of love and connection with animals all around us. It’s a world that we don’t see very often in our busy everyday lives. This book is filled with incredible images and magical stories of some of the creatures we share this earth with and how we are all connected. They’ve captured their personalities, playfulness, intensity and devotion to one another. Len and Cindy have interpreted their stories for us, giving us the window into the connection we all have to our animal neighbors and friends. It’s inspiring, beautiful and I can’t wait to share it with my nephews who will absolutely adore it.
This is such a great book. Lenn and Sharon care deeply about San Francisco and its wildlife, and have clearly devoted countless hours to documenting their experiences here. The result is a uniquely personal chronicle of a city and the creatures you'll find here. If you've spent time in Golden Gate Park, the SF Zoo, or out at Ocean Beach and Fort Funston, you'll see much here that will remind you of those special places.
Animals have fascinated me my whole life and I continue to learn from them in many ways. It is apparent that Cindy and Lenn have been able to learn, love, and appreciate the things that the wondrous creatures of the world have to teach and offer us when we take notice. They've done a beautiful job with "Ancient Allies" and their love and appreciation of animals, and also humans, is portrayed throughout the entire book. Time spent with these amazing animals from all walks (or flights) of life is what made this book a collection of stories filled with kind words of love and gratitude for them. Lenn has definitely been "initiated into the Raven fleet", I have no doubt about that. He is now one of them. This book is great for all ages and I'm sure I would've enjoyed it as a child as well. Detailed pics of the subjects and also San Francisco! Hope you enjoy. Well done Cindy and Lenn.
This was an excellent very down to earth read,the photographs were wonderful.The short stories seem to be from the heart, and how are pets and wildlife in general are so important to us. Good Job Sharon and Lenn
What a treat to read your book. Thank you! Your work on this endeavor to create this book has not gone unnoticed. The photos are BEAUTIFUL! I'm excited for my grandchildren to read it and experience the love here. They will get closer to the higher purpose of why we are here on this planet.
What a pleasure it has been reading this book and admiring the amazing photographs. The stories are heartfelt and close to home. The beautiful book makes a wonderful gift for all ages. Thank you for sharing your stories and incredible photos.
Surpreame reading material & pictures OUT OF THIS WORLD! It’s amazing how Lenn & Cindy we’re able to capture these once in a lifetime photos . If I didn’t know Lenn & Cindy personally I would believe the photos were photoshopped ! Lenn & Cindy had been working on this book compiling years of photos with the dream , ambition to someday have them all in a book with great stories. It’s so awesome that they finally made their dream come true . Thanks Lenn & Cindy for the great book , my wife & I throughly enjoyed it . Leo & Lili Terzian .
"Ancient Allies" is a wondrous, inspiring book, a testament to the beauty, mystery and love between humans and animals. It is about the miraculous nature of all living things, and how the bonds we share enrich our lives. I was drawn to this book, as it is published by the Hay House. Louise Hay, the miracle worker of our New Age, taught the transforming power of positive thought. She believed in the healing power of all creatures, great and small. This book is the astonishing real life chronicle of two wonderful individuals from the City of Love, San Francisco, and their well photographed interactions with over a dozen different creatures around them: cats, dogs, many birds, bees, spiders, rhinos, leopards, lions, even an octopus. While reading their missive to love, the Carpenter's song lyrics "Close To You" sprang to mind: "Why do birds suddenly appear, every time you come near...They long to be, close to you." It's the lesson the authors learned when heavenly creatures came close to them: love, survival, death, and ultimately, salvation. After reading this funny and smart book, you will never look at any passing creature (human or otherwise) again without the ancient and time immemorial feeling of being connected with love.
Dear Cindy and Lenn I really feel honored to be included in the first group of readers to comment on your book "Ancient Allies". I finished reading your marvelous book "Ancient Allies" two days ago and am still in awe of the effect it had on me. Not only did I find it impossible to put your book down, but have returned several times to re-read various tales and marvel at your exceptional photography. In most of these photos the animals seemed as interested in seeing that every picture conveyed a message of love, interest and wonderment at the beauty and majesty of the natural world around us. While I was temporarily working at a banana plantation in Jamaica, BWI, I heard the beautiful way in which the Jamaicans described various emotions - such as "water come to me eye" for the act of crying (whether from sadness or glee) - or "fattening me eyes" when window shopping or gazing at something beautiful. I experienced both while reading your book. Thanks again for sharing your magnificent love for nature and all its inhabitants. Jayne
Enjoyed the book immensely. All the stories were first hand accounts written with a lot of compassion and appreciation for animals. Each story was unique and in a style that brought out the awesome power of nature. Especially loved the story, Nature's Solace, very peaceful and thought provoking. Great reading overall with beautiful pictures accompanying each story. I would recommend this book to anyone who loves nature.
The wonderful book by Sharon Cameron and Lenn Cameron is a very special book indeed! The lovely photographs and eloquent content make it a satisfying and enjoyable read. Special congratulations to both of them!