🐾 Maybe the reason I love animals so much, is because the only time they have broken my heart is when theirs has stopped beating.

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

The myth of the full moon

Summer ends, and Autumn comes, and he who would have it otherwise would have high tide always and a full moon every night. 
- Hal Borland

The full moon always has me rushing outside to have a look. It somehow evokes feelings I cannot quite describe - euphoria, sadness, loneliness, feeling at one with nature and wonder at the magic of this light in the sky.

For centuries mankind has been intrigued by the notion that a full moon — which rises tonight — drives people to madness, crime, suicide and other  major crisis. 

One of the most enduring myths in human history, embedded in popular culture and folklore from Transylvania, is the myth of the werewolf. And like most popular myths, there's a certain logic to it: Earth is about 80 percent water, much like the human body, the theory goes, and if the moon's gravitational pull can effect the ocean tides, can't it also affect a person's body? 

Studies have found that cops and hospital workers are among the strongest believers in the notion that more crime and trauma occur on nights when the moon is full. One 1995 University of New Orleans study found that as many as 81 percent of mental health professionals believe the myth.

But there may be a simpler explanation for moon-induced behaviour: moonlight. One obvious explanation is that, before the advent of gas lighting at the beginning of the 19th century, the light of the moon permitted outdoor activities that were otherwise impossible. Full moon nights are 12 times brighter [under a clear sky] than at first or last quarter, and therefore it is likely that people stayed up later and slept less than the rest of the time. Even partial sleep deprivation can cause mania, and it is plausible that sleep disturbance during a full moon may function as positive feedback once a manic episode has begun in a predisposed person.

"Perhaps this lies at the origin of the association between madness and the full moon."



Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Natural environmentalists

6 animals that recycle in their everyday lives

Most animals live in a delicate ecological balance with their natural surroundings. It's simply the most efficient formula for survival: Take only what is needed, and waste as little of it as possible. But a few animals take "reduce, reuse, recycle" to the next level. It's a good thing, too: Someone needs to help clean up the mess that so many humans leave behind. 

Dung beetles 

It's a dirty job, but somebody's got to do it. Yes, even poop is too valuable a resource to let go to waste, and perhaps no animal understands this better than the dung beetle. This insect lives to collect and repurpose your poop. Not only do dung beetles build their homes out of feces, but they also eat it and lay their eggs in it.
Many dung beetles are actually referred to as "rollers," since their waste-collection strategy is to roll excrement into balls so that it can be easily wheeled away.
The environmental value of dung beetles shouldn't be understated. For instance, it's estimated that dung beetles save the United States cattle industry $380 million annually by repurposing livestock feces alone. The amazing recycling ability of dung beetles has even been proposed as a way to help curb global warming.
See all 6 animals at Mother Nature Network

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

70 days into 2013...

... and I have this in my garden...



Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Wireless technology

Here in the rural area where I live in Tarlton, Gauteng, South Africa, telephone poles are becoming a thing of the past. The copper wire has been stolen so many times that Telkom has abandoned the land-line system and resorted to a satellite telephone system. I’ll miss the poles and lines in the landscape, they provided great perches for birds of prey and congregating swallows before they leave on their great winter migration up North. 

I AM a copper wire slung in the air, 
Slim against the sun 
I make not even a clear line of shadow 

Night and day I keep singing—humming and thrumming: 

It is love and war and money; it is the fighting and 
the tears, the work and want, 

Death and laughter of men and women passing through me, 
carrier of your speech, 

In the rain and the wet dripping, in the dawn and the 
shine drying, 

A copper wire. 
- Carl Sandburg 


Monday, 4 March 2013

Crow wears a band of silver

W&N watercolour on Amedeo 200gsm 
With thanks to John from "Midmarsh Jottings" for the use of his beautiful photograph. 

Crow wears a band of silver on his ankle, holds it out to watch it glint in the sun like cool creek water. It is noon. He is the only one out. All others have sought shelter under the canopy of live oak, the leaves beneath the chaparral, Crow the only one among them unafraid to cast a shadow. He is a black body to absorb the sun’s heat, and yet unheated.

He's silver studded with stones, turquoise to match the cloudless sky. He stretches out his leg again, watches sky and water glisten on his ankle.

 He flexes claws and brings his foot beneath him again, stretches out his other, naked foot for balance. His feet are beautiful, furrowed skin like charcoal scales, sharp and onyx claws. As flexible as hands, good for grasping new-hatched thrushes or pulling gate hooks from eye bolts, and sleek. The humans see crow’s feet in the faces of their most seasoned elders, the scars of a learned life spent laughing. Crows’ feet, the mark of craft and cunning, crow’s feet a sense of humor made skin and sinew.

 He swings down on the branch, holds himself upside down and swinging, the silver falling down around his upper leg as he barks in delight. Sky below his feet and swaying, silver pools above his head. The world so beautifully inverted, he cannot keep from laughing. This is beauty: the world turned upside down. You can keep your lithe ingénues, your florid sunsets and cloying sentiment: beauty is all that cleft in two, a cunning spark suspended by crow’s feet, a fall from a deadly height and then the swoop of wing, the thickening of the air beneath splayed feathers. Seeing air rising within air and climbing on it, sun glinting blue-black as night sky off your feathers? Night colours blazing brilliant from your feathers? Beauty is day turned to night and night to day.

Heart beats furious beneath that dark breast, mind burns in onyx eyes. Beauty a glint of laughter in a bottomless dark eye. He barks again.

Sun above live oak, a thousand suns refracted on the earth below. Grasshoppers leap into the air clicking. Wild oats, tawn in the summer heat, lean eastward with the breeze, and a wall of fog on the ocean twenty miles west.

All this beauty: all this.

Story from "Coyote Crossing"


Saturday, 2 March 2013

March inspiration - Pets

"The greatest pleasure of a dog is that you may make a fool of yourself with him and not only will he not scold you, but he will make a fool of himself, too." 
~ Samuel Butler

  My companion and life-long friend, Jacko (read Jacko's story HERE.)

For many of us, our pets mean the whole world to us. For me, a house or an apartment becomes a home when you add one set of four legs, a happy tail, and that indescribable measure of love that we call a dog. I've always subscribed to the creed that the purity of a person's heart can be quickly measured by how they regard animals. Mahatma Gandhi said, "The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated." I whole-heartedly agree with that.



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