Snow Monkeys

I do like to talk. Still, when I lived in New York, after I stopped dancing, I worked as an editorial assistant for Science Textbooks at W.W. Norton & Co. It was a very depressing time for me. I had moved to New York to dance, and with my relationship from college, and had ended up working in an office, alone. My bosses were great, but the isolation and reality of New York were difficult.

The job was entirely administrative. As a large independent press Norton had editors (my bosses) to do the editing, and dedicated copy editors to do the copy editing. My job was keeping all of the pieces moving in the right direction, which was not a trick for me. Part of my work – in keeping things flowing – was handling the photo calls. Authors might note in a manuscript that they want a picture of such and such at a particular place in the text, and I/we would send out a photo call for such and such, select options from what was received, scan the slides (this was ’99), and email them to the author for selection. Days doing this, in my little internal office with no window. I remember vividly when one of the slides was an image of the Snow Monkeys in Japan.

Here are images similar to the one I remember:

I have since learned that “macaques invent and pass on new behaviours. Scientists have observed macaques learning how to wash potatoes and make snowballs and these skills have spread throughout Japan.” They believe that this band of monkeys went into the water to recover floating soy beans, and realized that hot springs are just lovely.

Author: Robert Bettmann

Founder of Day Eight, and the DC Arts Writing Fellowship.

One thought on “Snow Monkeys”

  1. I used to think the same thing about these monkeys until I was chased by one on a bike trail in Japan. They look cute but they are extremely aggressive and not terribly fond of people. All the schools I worked at had a special monkey-wrangling tool in the staffroom for chasing them off schoolgrounds (as they tended to when food got scarce in the mountains).

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