Droplets and oceans

Photo credit Vadim Trunov / Barcroft Media

Photo credit Vadim Trunov / Barcroft Media

I am thinking about the smallest of creatures tonight and how we look at our resources as just that — ours. The global water supply is looked at in terms of human consumption but we are not the only ones drinking the water on this planet. When I think of other animals drinking water I might think of large animals at a watering hole, located in Mkhuze Park, South Africa, lapping with the stuttering heartbeat anxiety of drinking under the eyes of predators. I don’t usually think of ants and snails. It amazes me to see tiny creatures stopping for a refreshing sip of water.  I can’t help but reflect on the many ways, invisible to our computer-screen trained eyes, that we are connected with the other creatures, large and small, on our planet. The smallest ones are going about their lives and partaking of pinhead sized beverages just out of sight.

And water itself — it too is an entity of sorts –is alive/full of life and is deserving of far more respect than it is given, this thing that makes our very lives possible. It is easy to be struck with wonder at huge storms and torrential rains but there is glory also in the smallest droplet and miracles to be seen in daily walks that other living creatures take upon the surface of lakes the size of teacups, sojourns on their oceanis ignotum.

Links of interest

Environmental Graffiti: Beautiful photo gallery of insects drinking from raindrops
The Sun: Tiny creatures with the ability to walk on water
Scientific American: How is it possible for insects and spiders to walk on water and walls?

Gaia the Giver

By Annette Marie Hyder

She speaks in sign language.
I’m a giver
, she signs
proffering roses and champagne,
chocolates, diamonds, and soft sandy beaches.
Whatever you need, I’ve got it, she finger swaggers.
I’ll be your shelter, your garden,
your waterfalls and soaring peaks.

She pulls mountains out of nowhere
(just to show she can)
and wears them voluptuously,
drapes rivers and seas sensuously
around her figure.
She silently calls deer, rabbits, and foxes
to run and play in her hair.

She dances through space, some say,
but others say she swims —
a blue and green mermaid
who gave her voice, long ago, to have legs
walk upon her surface.

Happy Earth Day 2013!

Money grows on trees in England

Coin Embedded tree from Ingleton Waterfalls Walk, United Kingdom
Image credit: Wikipedia

You’ve heard the old adage, “Money doesn’t grow on trees.” Well that expression must have been ‘coined’ without reference to the money trees which are to be found throughout England.

These trees look like they are producing coins right along with their branches and bark. Can you imagine coming across one when you are out for a walk? After the first flush of joyous discovery (“Mine, all mine!”) you’d probably guess that there was some sort of propitiatory element to be discerned in coin laden branches. What, other than superstition, could possess people to embed their hard-earned money into the bark of trees?

Gary R. Varner, in The Folklore of Trees, says that the practice of placing coins and even needles and pins in the bark of certain trees was a common folk practice in England:

In England, it was a common folk practice to place coins, needles and pins in the bark of certain trees as offerings to the local spirit or Fairy. This occurred most often when a holy well was nearby. Reportedly, in 1877Queen Victoria placed silver coins in the bark of a tree growing beside a holy well dedicated to St. Mourie on Loch Maree. The leaving of offerings on sacred trees in exchange for healing was a practice spoken of in the Odyssey as well as by Ovid in Metamorphoses.

Troll skin

Coin bark from Ingleton Falls near Ingleton in North Yorkshire, United Kingdom
Image Credit: Wikipedia

The weathered coins seem to merge with the bark and the appearance of the bark, so encrusted with coins, is reptilian, draconic — even troll-like. It calls to mind stories of trolls turning into stone at the rising of the sun. In the case of these trees, the reverse would happen at sunset — the troll would waken and stretch its knotty limbs, joints popping along its bumpy length.

Arboreal equivalent of wishing wells

“Money tree” near Bolton Abbey, North Yorkshire
Image credit: Wikipedia

While a desire for wealth is one reason that money is pushed in to the bark, the coins can symbolize many things desired and wished for, such as: love, children (the number of coins pushed in being hoped to represent the number of children to result) abundant crops, and the safety of loved ones. Anything you could wish for in throwing a coin into a wishing well finds its equivalent represented here. A coin to push your wish along and a penny for your thoughts.

Gold Digger
Annette Marie Hyder
Previously published in Prairie Poetry

You lay down on top of me
blocking the sun.
You sowed me and reaped me.
You dug in and leached
all value from my soil.
Your green crop busheled
and pecked.
You grew a whole forest
of C note trees
and their coinberries clinked
like deposit box keys.
Now you walk my perimeters
eyeball the horizon
in new fancy top hat and tails.
You say it’s time to move on
to untrampled pastures.
But you’ll always remember me,
having part of me with you,
the dirt beneath your nails.

Links of interest:

The Folklore of Trees by Gary R. Varner
Uncyclopedia’s money tree entry
Attic24’s lovely blog on money trees
The book I’m reading right now that intensified my appreciation of the folkloric element to money trees:

Good news for global climate

Photo courtesy of PHF

*found  poem, science daily, 11/09/09
Annette Marie Hyder

large blooms
in glacial pools
sink to sea-bed
to rest and store carbon
for a million years

*A found poem is a poem consisting of
words found in a nonpoetic context (such as a product label) and
usually broken into lines that convey a verse rhythm. Both the term and
the concept are modeled on the objet trouvé (French: “found
object”), an artifact not created as art or a natural object that is
held to have aesthetic value when taken out of its context.  — Encyclopedia Britannica

Antarctica Glacier Retreat Creates New Carbon Dioxide Store; Has Beneficial Impact On Climate Change

Science Daily reports:

Large blooms of tiny marine plants called phytoplankton are flourishing in areas of open water left exposed by the recent and rapid melting of ice shelves and glaciers around the Antarctic Peninsula. This remarkable colonisation is having a beneficial impact on climate change. As the blooms die back phytoplankton sinks to the sea-bed where it can store carbon for thousands or millions of years.

Reporting recently in the journal Global Change Biology, scientists from British Antarctic Survey (BAS) estimate that this new natural ‘sink’ is taking an estimated 3.5 million tonnes* of carbon from the ocean and atmosphere each year.

Lead author, Professor Lloyd Peck and his colleagues compared records of coastal glacial
retreat with records of the amount of chlorophyll (green plant pigment
essential for photosynthesis) in the ocean. They found that over the
past 50 years, melting ice has opened up at least 24,000 km2 of new
open water (an area similar to the size of Wales) — and this has been
colonised by carbon-absorbing phytoplankton. According to the authors
this new bloom is the second largest factor acting against climate
change so far discovered on Earth (the largest is new forest growth on
land in the Arctic).

*The 3.5 million tonnes of carbon taken from the ocean and atmosphere is equivalent to 12.8 million tonnes of CO2.

Read the entire article here.


 Photo courtesy National Geographic

Dimming Lights

National Geographic Magazine’s June issue is reporting that:

“If the dark seems a little bit darker these days — and the world a bit less wonderful — it probably is. Researchers in Asia, Europe, and North America are seeing dramatic declines in fireflies.

Thailand is one place that seems to be losing the bioluminescent beetles. For centuries they blinked along the Thai rivers with splendid synchronicity. Foreign visitors compared their lights to chandeliers or Christmas candles. Locals were able to fish solely by their flashes.

But the glow appears to be fading. “Twenty years ago I saw many, ” says Thai entomologist Watana Sakchoowong. “Now there are no more.”

Scientific counts are just starting No one has yet confirmed what’s causing the population drops, but experts suspect habitat loss and light pollution.”

If you’d like to help tally firefly population totals, check out this website: Museum of Science Firefly Watch

Also see:

Fireflies Courting at Dusk in Central Park 

Annette Marie Hyder
Previously Published in Fairytales and Much Ado

Stars fell
like fireflies tipped
from cradles in the sky.

Twigs and besoms
browned and crumbled
no longer able to fly.

Cobweb thread and petal fabric
shirt, vest and dress.

The unspooled thread
of Puckish laughter
lay in a knotted mess.

Feathers flew
back to rightful owners —
songbird’s breast and nest —

no more to be
splendor on hat
badge of sartorial zest.

The trees sighed
with mourning
to again be merely trees

to give up being castles —
their turrets back to branches
pennants back to leaves.

The mouse, the worm
the beetle too, were
released from their service

no more to mount
light heeled gallants
and meet in moonlit skirmish.

The flowers wept
pollen tears
the grasses chanted a lament

while earth and sky
hissed and crackled
with the energies unpent.

And what of
the fair folk themselves?
No matter what they tried

they hardened into black marks —
turned into words in books —
the night the magic died.