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Anent These Tidings

To Those who Walk the Land, Greetings and Salutations:

Surf, net—who knows such things better than We of the Anchovy? Prehistoric in our origin, subject of the venerable Aristotle's discourse, the Anchovy swims forth from the mists of time and darts relentlessly toward the future, drifting through the present, always flavoring the world.

Two kinds of creature inhabit this sphere you land-dwellers call Earth (know that we from the waters use another name, but that is not to be spoken). There are the Anchovy, and then there are . . . the Unanchovy. We see this difference plain, but do not think us bigots; we seek to know you, you who revile and yet devour us by the ton with such gusto. We are a sharing species, swimming graciously into your seines, for we have aplenty of ourselves, and you have need, and your lives would be less delicious without us.

Hence this place we meet right now, nowhere on earth, in air, or under water, or so I'm told. My younger colleagues have persuaded the Elder Council that the time has come for formal interspecies contact between ourselves and you, and have proposed this mystery of webs and internets and cyberspace to serve as medium for our communication. Few of the senior figures among us understand these means, but we cherish and trust in our young , and rejoice in the challenge of change—for how else can any species survive?

Thus we essay our first attempt to establish communication with you: to bring you news of Anchovy doings, to teach you our ways and our lore, to provide a sense of our history (and our place in yours), to demonstrate that we have fit ourselves into your everyday lives. We would give you some clearer sense of ourselves, and hope, by this exchange, to come to better understand you in turn. Toward this end, we have put my trusted second-in-command, Alice, The Anchovy Schoolmarm, in charge of the editorship of this project, for, while she has earned the respect of even the oldest among us, she also, as we say, "has her lip to the gills of the younger generation," and thus may serve better than I to encourage a meeting of the minds between our children and yours.

True dialogue is, as the sprats say, "a two-way street" (I confess myself perplexed by the metaphor, yet they insist that you will grasp it readily). Perhaps, then, we may from time to time pose certain open questions to you, soliciting your response—and you, of course, are invited to query us on all matters (not just those pertaining to the Anchovy), and we will consult the wise among us and try our best to answer to your satisfaction.

May we all one day swim together in the Great Water . . .

—Acciuga, Ye Anchovy Schoolmaster

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Illustrations © copyright 1997 by Annika Eklöf. All rights reserved.