Miracle. All of it.

duck-cold-winter

A small child next to us looked down at her snow-covered boots, then pointed to a duck that stood on the ice on the bank and asked her mother an extremely good question: “Why don’t his feet get cold?”…

It’s this: The bigger the temperature difference between two objects when they touch, the faster heat will flow from one to the other. Another way of putting that is to say that the more similar the temperatures of the two objects are, the more slowly heat will flow from one to the other. And that’s what really helps the ducks. As all that frantic paddling was going on, warm blood was flowing down the arteries of each duck’s legs. But those arteries were right next to the veins carrying blood back from the feet. The blood in the veins was cool. So the molecules in the warm blood jostled the blood vessel walls, which then jostled the cooler blood. The warm blood going to the feet got a bit cooler, and the blood going back into the body was warmed up a bit. Slightly farther down the duck’s leg, the arteries and the veins are both cooler overall, but the arteries are still warmer. So heat flows across from the arteries to the veins. All the way down the duck’s legs, heat that came from the duck’s body is being transferred to the blood that’s going back the other way, without going near the duck’s feet. But the blood itself goes all the way around. By the time the duck’s blood reaches its webbed feet, it’s pretty much the same temperature as the water. Because its feet aren’t much hotter than the water, they lose very little heat. And then as the blood travels back up toward the middle of the duck, it gets heated up by the blood coming down. This is called a countercurrent heat exchanger, and it’s a fantastically ingenious way of avoiding heat loss. If the duck can make sure that the heat doesn’t get to its feet, it has almost eliminated the possibility of losing energy that way.

So ducks can happily stand on the ice precisely because their feet are cold. And they don’t care.

~ Helen Czerski, from “Why Ducks Don’t Get Cold Feet” in  Storm in a Teacup: The Physics of Everyday Life

 


Notes:

  • Image Credit: wsj.com – Agence France Presse / Getty Images
  • Inspired by Albert Einstein’s quote: “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”
  • Related Posts: Miracle. All of it.

Saturday Morning. Call it Rest.

azure-butterfly-hand

 

Call it Rest. I sit on one of the branches. My idleness suits me. I am content. I have built my house. The blue butterflies, called azures, twinkle up from the secret place where they have been waiting. In their small blue dresses they float among the branches, they come close to me, one rests for a moment on my wrist. They do not recognize me as anything very different from this enfoldment of leaves, this wind-roarer, this wooden palace lying down, now, upon the earth, like anything heavy, and happy, and full of sunlight, and half asleep.

~ Mary Oliver, from “Building The House” in Upstream: Selected Essays

 


Photo: Shmoo Shots with A Visit from the Spirit of a Lost Friend. “Summer Azure butterfly which landed on my left wrist and stayed and stayed and stayed while I balanced the camera and took photos with my right hand.”

T.G.I.F.: It’s been a long week!

elephant-bath-tgif-t-g-i-f


Photo: wsj.com – A mahout bathes his elephant before a festival in Sauhara, Nepal. (Narayan Maharjan, Pacific Press, December 27, 2016)

Small Gods

meditation-woman-hair

My hope is that this minuscule prayer
will reach out to the god unknown I just sensed
passing in the rivulet of breeze above the mere rivulet
of water in this small arroyo. To the skittering insect
this place is as large as the Sea of Galilee.
In prayer I’m a complicated insect, moving
this way and that. The insect before me puzzles
over its current god, my dog Zilpha, who watches
with furrowed brow and thinks, “Should I paw
at this bug in this shallow pool, bite it, roll
on it in this tiny creek in the late afternoon heat,
or perhaps take another nap?” She looks at her god,
which is me, understanding as her eyes close
that the gods make up their minds as they go.
They are as patient as the water in which they live,
and won’t be surprised when they reach the sea
with their vast collection of reflections, the man, the dog,
the stars and moon and clouds, the javelina and countless
birds, bugs and minnows, the delicate sips of rattlers,
the boughs of mesquite, the carapace of the desert tortoise,
the heron footprints, the water’s memories of earth.

~ Jim Harrison, “Small Gods” from In Search of Small Gods

 


Photograph: meditation by carlos.odeh (via newthom)

Running. With Pigeon.

pigeon

Hundreds of pieces of lint bangin’ around upstairs, but none stretch into a fluffy middle or knit to a checkered flag at the end. Flash. Flash. Flash. Blah.  Nothing there. Nobody home. Nobody. Nothing.

When you bathe yourself in Mary Oliver poetry, her essays, her shorts – and when you waterboard your Blog followers with her Art, should there be any wonder of the source of the crippling doubt, the wellspring of inadequacy? Come on DK.

So here we go. In-n-out of her ethereal breezes to my…

Pigeon.

It’s daybreak, yesterday.  We’re on the way to Mianus River park for a trail run.  The gauge reads 27° F, and wind chill is knocking that down. We’re on a cross-street in Stamford, five miles out.  There’s no traffic. I stand at a red light. Anya‘s in the trunk, peeking between the head rests; outside, water vapor from the exhaust pipes spills into the cold and flurries of white smoke cloud the rear window.

My attention is pulled right. There he was.  A Pigeon. He’s sitting on a ledge on a wall of the building lining the street, at my eye level.  He’s looking at me, me at him. [Read more…]

Through these woods I have walked

aerial-oregon-forest-winter-mt-hood

Through these woods I have walked thousands of times. For many years I felt more at home here than anywhere else, including our own house. Stepping out into the world…was always a kind of relief. I was not escaping anything. I was returning to the arena of delight. I was stepping across some border. I don’t mean just that the world changed on the other side of the border, but that I did too…They recognized and responded to my presence, and to my mood. They began to offer, or I began to feel them offer, their serene greeting. It was like a quick change of temperature, a warm and comfortable flush, faint yet palpable, as I walked toward them and beneath their outflowing branches.

~ Mary Oliver, from “Winter Hours” in Upstream: Selected Essays


Notes: Photo: Michael Shainblum: An aerial image of a snowy morning in Oregon taken during a misty sunrise near Mount Hood. (Photo selection inspired by Dec 21, 2016, the Winter Solstice.)

Fly

sparrows


Photo: Sparrows in flight near Minsk, Belarus. Sergei Grits (AP)

T.G.I.F.: Like a punch in the gut 


National Geographic curated photos from 91 photographers, 107 stories, and 2,290,225 photographs.  

Poachers killed this black rhinoceros for its horn with high-caliber bullets in South Africa’s Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park. Black rhinos number only about 5,000 today.

Don’t miss the 51 other amazing photos here: 2016 Photos of the Year.

Walking: Just to be, and soak it in, rather than conquer it and tick a box

david-gray

FOLLOWING I don’t follow anything or anybody online; neither am I subscribed to any online magazines. I think I’m just too old and set in my ways for Twitter, etc. I still care about manners, spelling and punctuation, for Christ’s sake. Watching my kids and their intense relationship with the online world, I can see that it’s just a totally different mind-set; a different way of being even.

WALKING. These days my favorite pastime is to just go for a walk and if it’s out in the wilds, then all the better. Recent trips have included the Isle of Skye, the North Cornish coast and the Lake District, all of which were spectacular. It’s about taking your time to traverse rather than just climb a mountain and come back down again. Sometimes you climb up a mountain and find a tiny little lake, a weird little ecosystem with its dragonflies buzzing around. You just spend some time in this strange, magical spot. Just to be, and soak it in, rather than conquer it and tick a box. That’s my approach.

~ David Gray, from “Download by Kate Murphy” (New York Times Nov 26, 2016)

 


Notes:

  • Photo: Digitaltrends
  • If you’ve never heard of David Gray (what planet have you been residing on), check out his classic hit: Babylon

We interrupt this broadcast for Breaking News from Canada

gray-jay-bird-canada

The Gray Jay? Say What?

After a process lasting nearly two years…Canadian Geographic hopes the government will adopt its recommendation in celebration of Canada’s 150th anniversary in 2017. It says the choice between the country’s 450 species of birds “was made neither lightly nor quickly.”

Part of the controversy is about the selection process — the gray jay came in third in the online poll, behind the common loon and the snowy owl…

But the pick is controversial, prompting headlines such as this one in The Toronto Star: ” ‘The gray what?’ Outcry as gray jay named Canada’s national bird.” Hashtags such as #teamloon are full of outrage and sadness. “Unlike Canada … the gray jay is drab and not terribly photogenic,” wrote the Ottawa Citizen in an unflattering article titled, “7 embarrassing photos that gray jays don’t want you to see.”…

It was a long, heated selection process. Backers for the different birds duked it out in a “battle royal” debate, streamed live, where they mulled questions such as “Is the cry of the loon a hauntingly beautiful lament or the stuff of children’s nightmares?” and “Is the Canada goose a messy, ill-tempered brute or a unifying symbol that is also surprisingly delicious?”…

But Aaron Kylie, an editor for Canadian Geographic said: “We didn’t just follow the popular vote, because also, to be frank, I don’t think that we should decide a national symbol based on a popularity contest,” Kylie told the newspaper. He pointed to what some see as a cautionary tale, from the U.K.: “If we did those kind of things, that’s how you end up with Boaty McBoatface. It’s not really the right way to go about something that’s so serious.”

Read on – Merrit Kennedy, Canada Is Agonizing About Choosing A National Bird:

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