Blue Planet II: Take a Deep Breath.

Heartbreaking? (No, worse)

This Heartbreakbreaking Photo Reveals a Troubling Reality.  A small estuary seahorse, Hippocampus kuda, drifts in the polluted waters near Sumbawa Besar, Sumbara Island, Indonesia. Photographer Justin Hofman‘s image of a seahorse swimming with a discarded cotton swab illustrates the issues of pollution in our oceans. (Source: NationalGeographic.com, Sept 19, 2017)

Sunday Morning

Junipers in the forests outside Warsaw.
I didn’t know that junipers like sand.
They stand, huddled, like secret, silent figures in hoods.
They walk behind us. I turn to look.
They stop in their tracks, like monks.

~ Anna Kamienska, from A Nest of Quiet: A Notebook, trans. Clare Cavanagh from Poetry Magazine, May 1, 2012


Photo: Marek7 with Forest in Kampinos National Park in on the north-west outskirts of Warsaw

Oh, that is absolutely gorgeous, grass wind and pine wind.

Sometimes you trip into something, something that is so big, and so right (this Sunday morning), that you don’t want to soil it by sharing a few excerpts. (But I’m going to do it anyway, of course.) I urge you to listen to Krista Tippett’s entire 51 minute interview with Gordon Hempton where the conversation is sprinkled with Hempton’s nature recordings. Hempton is an acoustic ecologist, a collector of sound all over the world. You can find the entire transcript and audio recording here: “Silence and the Presence of Everything.” I’ve shared a few passages below:

________

“OK. So I get out of my car, all right? We’ll still hear the pinging of its engine. We’ll hear other cars and other visitors, and we’ll hear the “beep-beep” of our modern world as people are locking their cars and the rustling of our artificial fabrics against our bodies. Some people will be chattering away on cell phones. But then the sound of my backpack goes over my shoulders, and we head off down the trail. And no more than 100 yards along these tall, tree-lined, ferned path with moss drapes that add sound-deadening to the experience, we’ll hear the call-off twitter of a Winter Wren, this very high-pitched twittering sound that might be coming from 100 feet away…And then we’ll hear further away the sound of the Hoh River that drains the Rain Forest echoing off the far side of the valley…And if we were taking this hike in the fall, we would hear the bugling of the Roosevelt elk… Up close, it’s actually quite a guttural, adrenalin-filled assertion of what it means to be male and wild. But when you hear this experience from a couple of miles away, isn’t that amazing? When you’re in a quiet place, your listening horizon extends for miles in every direction. When you hear an elk call from miles away, it turns into a magic flute as the result of traveling through this place that has the same acoustics as a cathedral. […]

Yeah. Oh, grass wind. Oh, that is absolutely gorgeous, grass wind and pine wind. We can go back to the writing of John Muir, which he turned me on to the fact that the tone, the pitch, of the wind is a function of the length of the needle or the blade of grass. So the shorter the needle on the pine, the higher the pitch; the longer, the lower the pitch. There are all kinds of things like that, but the two folders where I collected, I have, oh, over 100 different recordings which are actually silent from places, and you cannot discern a sense of space, but you can discern a sense of tonal quality, that there is a fundamental frequency for each habitat. […]

But I found the sound that I enjoyed most was the sound of the silence in the volcano. The measurement of decibels actually goes into the minus point, but there still is a sense of presence, of where you are. Then once you get over the rim of the volcano, you begin to pick up what I call the mantra of the islands, and that’s the distant beating of that drum called the Pacific Ocean. […]

We’re about to enter into a giant driftwood log. It’s a Sitka spruce log, the same material that’s used in the crafting of violins, and it has a special property where that, when the wood fibers are excited by acoustic energy — in this case, it’s the sound of the ocean itself — that the fibers actually vibrate. And inside, we get to listen to nature’s largest violin. […] [Read more…]

Miracle. All of it.

As the entire duration of an eclipse, partial phases and all, embraces two or three hours, often for an hour after “first contact” insects still chirp in the grass, birds sing, and animals quietly continue their grazing. But a sense of uneasiness seems gradually to steal over all life. Cows and horses feed intermittently, bird songs diminish, grasshoppers fall quiet, and a suggestion of chill crosses the air. Darker and darker grows the landscape. […]

Then, with frightful velocity, the actual shadow of the Moon is often seen approaching, a tangible darkness advancing almost like a wall, swift as imagination, silent as doom. The immensity of nature never comes quite so near as then, and strong must be the nerves not to quiver as this blue-black shadow rushes upon the spectator with incredible speed. A vast, palpable presence seems overwhelming the world. The blue sky changes to gray or dull purple, speedily becoming more dusky, and a death-like trance seizes upon everything earthly. Birds, with terrified cries, fly bewildered for a moment, and then silently seek their night quarters. Bats emerge stealthily. Sensitive flowers, the scarlet pimpernel, the African mimosa, close their delicate petals, and a sense of hushed expectancy deepens with the darkness. An assembled crowd is awed into absolute silence almost invariably… Often the very air seems to hold its breath for sympathy; at other times a lull suddenly awakens into a strange wind, blowing with unnatural effect.

Then out upon the darkness, grewsome but sublime, flashes the glory of the incomparable corona, a silvery, soft, unearthly light, with radiant streamers, stretching at times millions of uncomprehended miles into space, while the rosy, flaming protuberances skirt the black rim of the Moon in ethereal splendor. It becomes curiously cold, dew frequently forms, and the chill is perhaps mental as well as physical.

Suddenly, instantaneous as a lightning flash, an arrow of actual sunlight strikes the landscape, and Earth comes to life again, while corona and protuberances melt into the returning brilliance, and occasionally the receding lunar shadow is glimpsed as it flies away with the tremendous speed of its approach.

~ Mabel Loomis ToddTotal Eclipses of the Sun, Vol. 1 (1894)


Notes:

  • Post Inspired by:  “An eclipse is just an eclipse, of course. It won’t solve America’s deepening dysfunctions. But perhaps, in drawing so many together, it can offer a reminder of common bonds long forgotten. As millions of Americans look up, if only momentarily, from their phones, maybe they can also look beyond the pettiness of so much of their politics. Among a crowd of strangers gazing at the unnerving splendor above, they might find a brief moment of grace.” ~ Bloomberg View, excerpt from The Meaning of the Eclipse (August 18, 2017) (Thank you Make Believe Boutique)
  • Mabel Loomis Todd Quote: Brainpickings
  • Photograph: A solar eclipse on Nov. 14, 2012, seen from Palm Cove, Australia. Credit – Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images (9 Eclipses, 4 Continents, Never Tired of the Spectacle, NY Times, August 19, 2017)
  • Related Posts: Miracle. All of it.

Monday Morning Wake-Up Call

~ Hanna Lang, World’s Slowest Animals Prove Speed Isn’t Everything.  Incredible photos show the earth’s most sluggish—but maybe most determined—animals on land, air and sea.

 

Miracle. All of it.

World’s smallest birds is just one of several distinctions that hummingbird species claim. They’re the only birds that can hover in still air for 30 seconds or more. They’re the only birds with a “reverse gear”—that is, they can truly fly backward. And they’re the record holders for the fastest metabolic rate of any vertebrate on the planet: A 2013 University of Toronto study concluded that if hummingbirds were the size of an average human, they’d need to drink more than one 12-ounce can of soda for every minute they’re hovering, because they burn sugar so fast. Small wonder that these birds will wage aerial dogfights to control a prime patch of nectar-laden flowers. […]

[Photo Caption] Hummingbirds often brave downpours to gather the nectar needed to avoid starvation. This Anna’s hummingbird shakes off rain as a wet dog does, with an oscillation of its head and body. According to researchers at UC Berkeley, each twist lasts four-hundredths of a second and subjects the bird’s head to 34 times the force of gravity. Even more remarkable: Hummingbirds can do this in flight as well as when perched.

~ Brendan Borrell, from Unlocking the Secrets behind the Hummingbird’s Frenzy (National Geographic Magazine, July, 2017)

Do not miss full story & photos taken with high speed cameras


Notes:

Monday Morning Wake-Up Call: Breakfast!


An Atlantic puffin holds a mouthful of sand eels on the island of Skomer, off the coast of Wales. (wsj.com, Rebecca Naden, Reuters, July 18, 2017)

Miracle. All of it.


If someone set fire
To the whole night sky,
Would you ask “how?”
Or would you ask “why?”

~ the-real-void


Notes:

a fugitive breeze, a rustle of leaves, choral insects

Quiet, please.

In contrast to “Baby Driver,” with its high-decibel cacophony, this week also brings Patrick Shen’s “In Pursuit of Silence.” It isn’t really silence that’s being pursued in this beguiling, meditative and elegantly photographed documentary. As one murmuring head after another observes, absolute silence can’t be achieved in these earthly precincts, and doesn’t warrant chasing after in any case. What’s de-stressing for the body and nourishing for the soul is quiet that contains benign sounds—a fugitive breeze, a rustle of leaves, choral insects, a bird sending signals from the far reaches of a serene acoustic surround.  The film begins with a tribute to “4’33,” the seminal composition by John Cage in which music is not played—by a pianist, or a full orchestra—for the four minutes and 33 seconds of the title. In Mr. Shen’s evocative sequence, words are not spoken but, if you listen carefully, sounds of nature and even human laughter can be heard under—or over, or within? —a succession of graceful images.

~ Joe Morgenstern, from ‘In Pursuit of Silence’ Review: Dulcet Symphony. A meditative documentary explores quiet and the auditory world around us. (wsj.com, June 29, 2017)


Note: Rotten Tomatoes Movie Review

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