28 December 2006

People season

This picture was taken a few days ago, and now people season has begun in earnest, so the scene is much more cluttered. Characteristics of the season? Many more humans than in the winter, but not many by international standards. Lost beach items, and discarded fishing catches. Last year, a stingray with the hook still in its mouth, that curved mouth that looks like a torque of finely cut moonstones set by a master jeweller. There are few beings as lovely and worthy of respectful admiration as a ray.

There will be many more blue-bottles (Physalia utriculus, otherwise called Portuguese man-o'-war) who end their multiple lives on the shore in the coming months. Blue-bottles are only one species in what's called the Blue Layer that get all washed up and whose mortal coils literally dessicate on golden sands in the summer months. Here is a beached Porpita porpita

W.J. Dakin's Australian Seashores, revised and illustrated by Isobel Bennet tells much about their lives, has much better pictures than I can take, and is a classic that should be reprinted. It is a great book for really learning how the other many billions live, including those who constitute the Blue Layer.

Wonderfully out of range of today's syndrome-proud standards, this passage is typical, and is appropriately about the blue-bottle: "The dried bladders, still containing gas and still blue in colour, may be thick on the sandy beaches, tossed up above the high-water mark by the waves. Children like to pop them by stamping on them."

Sadly, I've never had to shove any children out of the way when I've done my stamping. They don't play this game any more, though last year we were lucky enough to come across a mother and her 6-year-old son, who had just found a tiny, incredibly cute blue-ringed octopus in a tidepool. "Come away," the mother said. "Don't bother the octopus." (And yes, she knew the reputation of the little thing.)

20 December 2006

An aweful site

This was a site that would have remained unseen, seeing as it was exposed when a fallen half of a eucalypt was sawn for firewood, and the cracked wood fell apart.

Said to live under loose bark, the inhabitants lived in a crack. When a piece of bark was placed on the now exposed split, life carried on. I don't know if the mother opened her eggsack (as is written), but her babies certainly emerged healthy,
though startled every time the piece of bark was removed for a peek (most of the time, they and their mother were on the underside of the bark, not the surface of the split wood).

These are the spiderlings of the huntsman, Delena cancerides. Their mother lived with them for weeks after they emerged, and it is written that she carries them on her back when she hunts (though I didn't see this).

The Australian Museum tells something about them, and so does Dr. Linda S. Raynor, Cornell University, who says, "The primary research in my laboratory is on the social behavior, mother-offspring dynamics, colony formation, and sexual conflict in the endemic Australian huntsman spider, Delena cancerides (Sparassidae). Delena were the spider stars of the 'Arachnophobia'!"

Phobias! Spiders, ringtones, heights, depths, oysters, tails, the outdoors, the unknown, the undiscovered.

The site was active for three weeks, and now is just firewood.

19 December 2006

Och ay! Alistair Rennie takes a poem above and beyond

This is the kind of collaboration I just love.

Lucky me, to have this poem read in the voice that it most certainly has (which isn't mine).

And it's wonderfully illustrated by Mike and Anita Allen.

"Trapped Words" in Mythic Delirium.

05 December 2006

We all thought Saunders was ABOVE words

And the terrifying wiggle of his ginger moustache . . .

If only we'd known he was dead.

Beating up bullies, flame-making fun for boys and girls, and other delights

I am very disappointed to announce that Bullies in the blog playground by A.C.E. Bauer is in December's Virtuous Medlar Circle. This essay deserves a wide readership.

As usual, there's also other stuff on the mothersite to stimulate you, shall we say, exclusive (meaning, ahem, few, but the truth so often hurts) readers of the CIRCLE: the I HATE QUOTES quotes, the IRRESISTIBLE links to books, ideas, food for the body and soul—and then back up to this month's new feature in the Circle, the "Dead-Guests-Can't-Say-No Classic"presented for your nanny's delight: a wonderfully illustrated lesson in astronomy that tells boys and girls how to start fires and blow stuff up. If this doesn't inspire you about what to get the littlies to celebrate the birth of 2007 or the death of 2006, then you deserve to be virtually fleischwolfed by a thousand thousand maggot-pale, grub-trunked, bilious, quivering, liverish snivelling cowards.