The sweet taste of the north country

Ellen Emery

Nancy Boynton of Watertown traveled to this portion of the north country this past weekend to visit her lifelong friend Sharon MacCue, who lives in Brasher. She came with a fascinating story to share of her work with cheetahs in Africa.

Sharon told me that she and Nancy had been friends since kindergarten, always there for one another. On Saturday, Sharon introduced her friend Nancy to her friends who had gathered to share a meal and listen to this fascinating woman’s story.

I had the marvelous opportunity to listen to this woman’s story at Grace United Methodist Church in Massena. This amazing woman is a soloist, hand bell director and can be found playing the church organ in Watertown churches or organizing a concert.

For 15 years, she has added work with cheetahs in Namibia, Africa, to her already full schedule. In recent years, Nancy has stayed for a month working with the cheetahs at the Cheetah Conservation Fund, which is located in Otjiwarongo, Namibia.

The CCF was founded in 1990 by Laurie Marker, we were told. The CCF is a Namibian nonprofit organization dedicated to the long-term survival of the cheetah and its ecosystems. Its vision is to help create a world where cheetahs live and flourish in coexistence with people and the environment.

“The scope of the project is so vast,” Nancy told us as she described the work being done there.

There is a veterinary clinic, genetics lab and programs for education. There also is time spent caring for and rehabilitating the cheetahs to return them to the wild or ensure their safety as ambassadors on the complex.

Another aspect of the work there is with a livestock guarding dog program. Each part of the work in Namibia is truly amazing.

“They are an endangered animal,” Nancy said as she spoke about the cheetahs. “The cheetah deserves to have a place on this Earth.”

I think most of us realize that the cheetah is the fastest land animal, but the details of how this beautiful animal can run faster than others I learned on Saturday.

Their claws don’t retract, which assists with their running abilities, Nancy explained. She also pointed out with the most beautiful colored cheetah pictures from Africa that the cheetah is “built for speed” explaining, “They are lean with a larger lung capacity.”

“The tail is about two-thirds the length of the cat. … The tail is their rudder,” she added.

The familiar black markings under the eyes are there to “cut down the glare,” Nancy said, explaining the black is similar to the markings used by football players. Amazing! I had never heard why cheetahs had the black markings, thinking perhaps it merely added to their beauty.

“The cheetah is not nocturnal,” Nancy told us, explaining that with daytime hunting the cheetah needs the black markings to assist with the glare from the sun.

We also learned the cheetah doesn’t roar but purrs and chirps. I never realized that.

Nancy provided details some of the work she has done during her time in Africa at this facility. Her work diligently strives to assert the cheetah’s very existence is to be commended. How fascinating Nancy Boynton’s story was, and what remarkable work she and everyone at the CCF center in Namibia are doing to ensure the survival of the cheetah.

“Why do you go back?” Nancy said she has been asked numerous times. Her reply is, “The work isn’t done yet.” Speaking about the site that rehabilitates the cheetahs and assists with their survival, Nancy told us, “It’s another family … another home.”

My heartfelt thanks to Nancy for the work she is doing in Africa and for sharing her marvelous story. My thanks also to Sharon MacCue for sharing her friend with all of us on a Saturday afternoon.


Charlie Jacobs celebrates his birthday Friday. What a fine gentleman. It is always such a joy when our paths cross.

I met Charlie in Walmart recently. His smile and friendly greetings made my day a very good one.

My warmest wishes, Charlie, for only the best as you celebrate this year. Happy Birthday!


We discovered Sunday that our feline friend, Tigger, enjoys a carry-out package from Tim Hortons. I was on my way home from Massena and was on Main Street. The stop I had made earlier was very near to Tim Hortons. Since I had not had any coffee at all since about 7 a.m. that morning and by now it was nearly 1 p.m., I decided I should stop.

I purchased coffee to go and decided I would bring the Clockman a blueberry muffin. The muffin was placed in a small Tim Hortons paper bag.

I arrived home and sat down to visit and finish my coffee. The Clockman took his muffin.

I must explain that Tigger doesn’t like human food and never tries to consume any of our food — not salmon, not turkey. But on Sunday, he wanted the Clockman’s blueberry muffin.

He stood on his hind legs and reached for it. He found crumbs that he immediately ate.

And then he discovered the brown paper bag. His head went completely inside as he ate every crumb — and yes, the Clockman assisted him so he didn’t remain stuck in a Tim Hortons bag.

We decided Tigger was a fan of Tim Hortons — perhaps not of the coffee, but he did seem to enjoy the crumbs of a blueberry muffin!


Last Tuesday, I received an email from a faithful column reader. She told me she had thought of me when she saw the morning snowfall and quoted my “Thought for the Week” from last year.

She said she had had the quote on an index card on her fridge since last year and she repeated this quote back to me. “No winter lasts forever, and no spring skips its turn!” What fun to be reminded of these words at a most appropriate time!


“There are those who see the need and respond. I consider those people my heroes.”

— Mr. Rogers

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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