Monday, May 30, 2011

Reachd 'n' Roll

Herein follows a setting of "Mary MacLeod," that I am quite willing to bet you were not expecting. And it works:

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Bonnie, Bonnie Bugs

I've had broom much on the brain of late. I have not been pondering its vicious invasive habits, or even taking the trouble to find out whether I am looking at the Scotch, or the Spanish, or at some other variety. There is just a good deal of it around here, so much so, that you can't help but notice it--so much so, indeed, that the perusal of a poem collection the other night turned up, at its first opened page something Stevenson was saying about bonnie broom. I don't know why broom absolutely must be bonnie, but the laws of poetry seem to dictate that you cannot mention that particular noun without that particular adjective. Do you think I exaggerate? Then possibly you never heard of the bonnie, bonnie (two of 'em! Count 'em!) broom of the Cowdenknowes? The poets do have a point, I'll admit. It is: At least it was growing along Sunrise Boulevard in a bonnie enough fashion to make me drive over to the American River Parkway on Sunday to see if I could get a decent picture of it. Well, to be honest, a good deal of the "bonnie" award goes to the big fried eggs of matilaja poppies that were growing among it, high on the bank, and I couldn't get anything like a picture that did the panorama justice:

Though the river was fair enough,

And so were the wild grapevines which seemed obligated to grow all over every inch of space that didn't already have something growing in it. . .and a few that did.

But the real pay-off, that more than made up for any disappointment over broom that insisted on being bonnie from a distance was this. Or rather these. There were herds of them:
And can you guess what this faboulous and fearsome beast is? It is the oh-so-thankfully flightless young of my old nemesis the Pipevine Swallowtail.
You didn't even have to look for the little fellows--they were everywhere. Well, yes, for starters, everywhere there was a handy pipevine, but also taking their evening strolls among other foliage, or even, in one case, across the road.
Fabre once complained: "The fashion is all for the Mollusc and the Zoophyte. The depths of the sea are explored with many drag-nets; the soil which we tread is consistently disregarded." Mind, I can't point any fingers when it comes to a fondness for the Mollusc, but there are certainly some wonderfully bizarre creatures quite close at hand.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

A Sticky Business

I am, despite the apparent contradiction implied by the appearance of a post, internetless at the moment. Which means I was at the library yesterday, waiting for my turn on the computer, which meant I took the opportunity to check out a great armload of books, which I shall probably never read, which means I did sit down and look at the one with all the pictures in it, which means (at last) that I can bring you this fact, which I found quite startling: there is a cactus peculiar to--Bakersfield. It is, with the characteristic direct address of Kern County, called the Bakersfield cactus, or, more obscurely, Opuntia treleasii. And this is what it looks like. So now you know--don't ever ask me again.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Unless It's A Fish

My Mom gave me a really lovely set of dessert plates. I do mean absolutely lovely--the sort of thing that I admire to such lengths that I am very nearly inspired to invite hordes of people over just so that I may let them eat cake.

As you can see in the picture on the left, the aforesaid plates are of the intriguing, "Oh-this-old-thing-we-tore-out-of-a-naturalist's-notebook," pattern, which truly happens to be a favorite theme of mine for prints, be they floral or faunal. I mean, a splendid cake is a splendid cake, but who would not rather have their cake, and egret too?

I am just feeling a little conflicted about this particular pattern, however. The best parts of such arrangements are invariably the tantalizing scraps of field notes and encyclopediesque entries that fill in the spaces between the sketches. Just as invariably, such entries are incomplete. The one above, for instance, runs artistically off the edge of the plate, so you can read only enough about some half-named creature (Eastern. . Fancy Copperplate Squiggle: scientific name Sialia si--) to make it sound rather astounding. It can boast a mighty stature of seven inches. It does. . .something in south Manitoba. Evidently whatever it does involves gurgling, and holes. To my mind sprang a vague and fearsome picture of the prairies of Manitoba, stretching in an endless golden sheet from horizon to horizon--and absolutely riddled with dark burrows, wherein dwell, and gurgle, the fierce, yet seldom-seen Sialia si. I was more than a little miffed when I discovered that the people who made the plate were not introducing me to a vocal, land-dwelling moray eel, but were most likely only starting rumours about Sialia sialis, otherwise known as the Eastern bluebird.

Still, until I get just a bit more clarification on the gurgling bit, I don't think I shall be taking any extended walks through the more southerly bits of Manitoba.