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

Monday Morning Wake-Up Call (Up, Up, Up, all together now)

“A photographer in Australia captured stunning images of something one might only see once or twice during the migrating season: two whales breaching in perfect synchronization. So you might say photographer Jonas Liebschner of Whale Watching Sydney hit the daily double as he saw and snapped photos of two pairs of humpback whales breaching simultaneously only seven days apart. On the second day of whale-watching season off Manley Beach north of Sydney, Australia, Liebschner took a photograph showing two humpback whales breaching in perfect tandem with flippers in identical positions before splashing down.


Grindtv.com Pairs of whales breach in perfect tandem; photographer captures the moments (June 6, 2017)

I imagine how the press of cooling air might feel against its wings

For some weeks, I’ve been worried about the health of family and friends. Today I’ve stared at a computer screen for hours. My eyes hurt. My heart does, too. Feeling the need for air, I sit on the step of my open back door and see a rook, a sociable species of European crow, flying low toward my house through gray evening air. Straightaway I use the trick I learned as a child, and all my difficult emotions lessen as I imagine how the press of cooling air might feel against its wings. But my deepest relief doesn’t come from imagining I can feel what the rook feels, know what the rook knows — instead, it’s slow delight in recognizing that I cannot. These days I take emotional solace from understanding that animals are not like me, that their lives are not about us at all. The house it’s flying over has meaning for both of us. To me, it is home. To a rook? A way point on a journey, a collection of tiles and slopes, useful as a perch or a thing to drop walnuts on in autumn to make them shatter and let it winkle out the flesh inside.

Then there is something else. As it passes overhead, the rook tilts its head to regard me briefly before flying on. And with that glance I feel a prickling in my skin that runs down my spine, and my sense of place shifts. The rook and I have shared no purpose. For one brief moment we noticed each other, is all. When I looked at the rook and the rook looked at me, I became a feature of its landscape as much as it became a feature of mine. Our separate lives, for that moment, coincided, and all my anxiety vanished in that one fugitive moment, when a bird in the sky on its way somewhere else pulled me back into the world by sending a glance across the divide.

~ Helen MacDonald, excerpt from “What Animals Taught Me About Being Human” (The New York Times, May 16, 2017)


Photo: Gregory Colbert (Thank you Sawsan via Last Tambourine)

Forget Calories. Go for Awe.

Excerpts from Julia Baird’s Forget Calories. Exercise for Awe. (May 6, 2017, NY Times):

If you joined the hundreds of people in my swim squad, you might think at first that the routine was simply about getting a solid bout of exercise before the day begins…The caps we wear are bright pink. The name we call ourselves, the Bold and Beautiful, is also quite daft, but it’s a reminder that the squad was formed several years ago by middle-aged women who were too nervous to swim the distance alone. This morning swim was never about skill, but about pluck.

Most days, at some spot along the mile-long route, heads will cluster, arms pointing down under the water at enormous blue groupers, white dolphins, color-changing cuttlefish, wobbegongs (bearded sharks), and even tiny turtles and sea horses. One summer, a white dolphin frequently appeared. At this time every year, gangs of young dusky whaler sharks swarm the bay, several feet beneath us, migrating only after they have already become large enough to make people nervous. There’s a reason a collective term for sharks is a shiver.

It’s not always sheer delight. Sometimes we emerge with red welts from stingers (usually jellyfish) across faces and limbs, and have to battle thickets of seaweed, powerful currents and crashing waves. But the daily difference in conditions is part of what makes it thrilling. One day, a whale glided into the bay and played with the swimmers for an hour — though I refuse to talk about it because I wasn’t there…My atheist friends who were there described it as like a prayer or quasi-religious experience; their faces turned solemn at the recollection… [Read more…]

Does just asking the question make you feel ill?

Try to pinpoint the last time you took a purposeless walk through the late spring breeze, when there was no itch in your hand to reach for a mobile device, and you felt like the wind and sky around you had nothing to disclose to you other than the vast and mysteriously sympathy of existence itself. Was it 2007? Or as far back as 1997? Does just asking the question make you feel ill?

~ Michael Brendan Dougherty, from I write on the internet. I’m sorry. (The Week, May 1, 2007)

 


Art: Eiko Ojala with “I found my silence“. The Estonian artist famous for his paperwork released a new personal project with no clue on what media is used in it. This could be a beautiful mix of paper, photography and illustrations but we are gracefully confused, but incline to paper. The only thing we know – it is beautiful (via DesignCollector)

Berg!

An iceberg ran aground over Easter weekend just off the small Newfoundland town of Ferryland, population 465, drawing knots of tourists eager to catch a glimpse.  Some are locals or travelers who happened to be nearby, but many are a special Canadian breed, the iceberg chaser — People who flock to the coasts of Labrador and Newfoundland at this time of year hoping to see the huge frozen chunks of broken glacier that drift by on a stretch of sea known as Iceberg Alley.

The berg at Ferryland rises about 15 stories above the waterline — and that is only about 10 percent of its mass. Some of the submerged ice comes into view when the berg is seen from above…

The stunning view that is causing traffic jams of onlookers on the coast road is actually a snapshot of the iceberg’s death throes, 15,000 years in the making. What began as snowflakes falling on Greenland during the last ice age has crept to the sea in a glacier and then broken off, probably sometime in the last three years, to float slowly out into Baffin Bay. Bumped and nudged by one another and by melting pack ice, the bergs eventually get caught up in the southbound Labrador Current and sail down Iceberg Alley.

~ Dan Levin, excerpts from a story in the NY Times, April 20, 2017

Don’t miss the full story and other fantastic photographs by Jody Martin here: A Chunk of the Arctic Stops By for a Photo Shoot

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