This was one of the magical moments at our family wedding on Saturday…
The Power of Lightning
One of my most favourite things has to be a good thunderstorm. Throughout my life, I have experienced so many, it would be hard to pick the best one. Like most of Nature’s gifts to us, there can be no favourites, as they are all so wonderful.
When I was a child, it was impressed upon me how dangerous they were. I was never to go near a window, or even look at a storm. Never to pick up a telephone, or God forbid, actually go outdoors. None of which, of course, had any effect on me, except to probably make me want to do all of these things all the more.
Something about the distant rumble of thunder has me counting the miles, desperate for it to travel to where I am. I love to watch the show, go out in the rain and get soaking wet, even though it could be dangerous. I just have to try to be a part of it.
A while ago, in the middle of a storm, it appeared to be moving away, so I opened the back door for a better idea of what was happening. Just at that moment, a huge bolt of lightning hit a nearby tree, barely yards from where I was standing. The force of it nearly blew the door off its hinges!
But was I scared? Was I heck…
I love the power and beauty of a storm, the smell of electricity in the air. The way the sky seems to glow with violet light, the searing white shards that chase their way to earth.
They always end too soon, though, leaving me disappointed.
I will always remember the storms of my childhood, and maybe it is my imagination, but didn’t they seem to last longer then? I would lie in my bed at night, listening to the thunder, the world washed so clean in the morning…
My brain’s ability to dredge up the most ancient of memories, at less than a moment’s notice and with the slightest hint has always astounded me.
I was walking along, looking at my bonsai collection, when I noticed how badly the painted wall behind them had overwintered. Considering the wall had only been painted last summer, there seemed to be an awful lot of green algae on it in more than a few places which was beyond annoying, for I hadn’t planned on doing it again this year.
One particular patch of green caught my eye, and it instantly made me think of a fish. Not just any fish, mind you but a tropical fish we had a long time ago. It was called a Silver Dollar, because that’s what it looked like. A small round silvery fish, about the size of a ten pence piece, nothing remarkable about it at all. Most of the experts called it a Poor Man’s Discus, for when it matured, it would have distinctive stripes, similar to the Discus fish.
Over the years that we had him, he proved to be quite a character. We called him Fred, and he eventually grew to the size of the palm of my hand. As he grew, he refused to share his tank with anything. He bullied every fish we put in with him, no matter how big, until they gave up and died. Plants were always uprooted and torn to shreds, and his favourite pastime was moving all the gravel from one end of the tank to the other. We regretted buying him so many times, but grew fond of him in spite of his anti- social habits.
He grew to like us too; at least that’s what we thought. Following us up and down the tank whenever we passed, making kissing shapes with his mouth. I always thought this was a sign of affection, but the way he would attack my hand whenever I tried to clean the inside of the glass would somehow deny this notion. I discovered to my cost that his dorsal fin, the one that ran along his back, contained a sharp barb which he became very adept at stabbing me with.
Despite his aggressive behaviour, he was a part of our family for many years and we were inordinately fond of him. The neighbours would enquire after his health and the children brought their schoolmates home to meet him.
He developed the habit of leaping from the water whenever I had the lid up for cleaning, which was a nightmare. He had the entire family in a panic one day when he leaped from the tank and managed to slip between the bars of the hamster cage, situated nearby. He suffered no ill effects, despite being well and truly covered in sawdust. I had to laugh, for he looked for all the world as if he had been coated in batter, ready for the frying pan.
All these memories from a small patch of algae, Who knew they were all still inside my head, just waiting to be remembered at a moment’s notice? If you consider have much we have all witnessed in our lives, just how great a filing system we must have.
Until the years catch up with us of course… So what happened to that book I couldn’t find yesterday…and my old slippers?
Not sure what I was looking for, but during my browsing the other day, I came across an article about a clockwork lion. The picture intrigued me, being a lifelong visitor of the lions in Trafalgar Square in London.
When I was a small child, I remember visiting Trafalgar Square a lot. It seemed like a magical place to me, what with the water fountains, thousands of pigeons and those enormous black lion statues.
So when I saw this article, I knew I had to know more about it.
“The four bronze lions of London’s central Trafalgar Square got a temporary addition on 28 January, with a clockwork sculpture of the animal unveiled to highlight the plight of big cats. The statue, made of clockwork mechanics, will stand in the square for just a day before being auctioned off to raise money for National Geographic’s Big Cats Initiative, which says it aims to halt the decline of big cats in the wild.”
Time is beginning to run out for all of the big cats, and to put it into perspective, there are apparently more statues of lions in London than still roaming in the wild.
The clockwork lion was designed by Sculptor Iain Prendergast, to deliver a poignant message about the plight of the big cats. “On the body, mainly as if it was the inner workings of a clock, so it was cogs, levers and coils and all sorts of things like that,” he said at his workshop. “And then up to, obviously the eyes, we’ve got clocks in them, clock faces but yeah, it’s just looking at each little part of the clock, obviously the hands for the mane, just seeing whatever sort of links in with the actual physical resemblance of the cat.”
I was upset when I heard about the killing of Cecil, the famous African lion, but maybe something good could come out of it after all, for it sparked a global controversy and set off a backlash against the African hunting industry. Inspiring the creation of this incredible piece of art at the same time.
I think the gaunt frame, torn hide, and wide, harrowed eyes of the Clockwork Lion give a drastically different impression than the steady, powerful look of the famous Landseer Lions around him, dramatically illustrating the decline wild lions have experienced since the original statues were installed in 1867. The sculptor has made the lion seem very real, the agony on its face almost too painful to see. If I look at it for too long, it makes me cry.
I have tried to discover what has happened to the lion, as it was only in Trafalgar Square for the one day. It was auctioned off to raise money for the Big Cats Initiative but I could find no coverage of that. It would be a shame if it vanishes into obscurity, as I think it is an emotional piece of art…
(photographs the propert of National Geographic Big Cats Initiative)
The sun was shining and it finally felt warm. I desperately needed to get out of the house and go for a walk, but not sure if I was fit enough to go where I really wanted to go.
It is nearly a mile to our local pond, and this is such a stupid thing to call it, for it is huge. It takes nearly an hour to walk slowly around it, so this will tell you the size of it.
I was prepared to make the trip, even though it was a risk. Getting there isn’t usually the problem, but after you have walked around for a while, you don’t have much energy left for the return trip. In addition, I was still recuperating for the cancer treatment.
At the last minute, help arrived in the shape of an unexpected lift in my niece’s car, she fancied a walk too, and it quite made my day. I could enjoy the water and the scenery and come safely home, energy levels intact!
I adore this pond. All the different wildlife and trees, the sunlight glinting on the water, rounded off with a lovely cup of drinking chocolate at the waterside café.
I didn’t need to walk right around the pond, but it was Spring and the resident swans could be laying their eggs and I wanted to see them.
Half way around, I spotted the enormous white birds. One was sitting on the nest, a huge pile of twigs. The other stood guard, one eye on his mate and the other on me, lest I went too near. No fear of that really, the nest was way out in the water.
I am always amazed by how successful they are as parents. Every year they rear at least six cygnets, and during the time it takes to build the nest, lay the eggs and then rear the young, you hardly ever see them eat, so devoted they are to the job in hand.
I thought back to two years ago, when I had the good but scary fortune to be witness to a close encounter with the pair of them, complete with ten small cygnets in tow. I was sitting on a bench by the water enjoying the day, when they decided that particular spot was where they would come ashore. They clambered out of the water and waited patiently for their babies to join them. I hardly dared to breathe, for they were so close to me and not known for their tolerance to humans at this time of year. It was an amazing moment, and one I will never forget.
I wondered how many eggs they would lay this year, so far I could only see five in the nest.
These incredibly beautiful birds have a very special relationship, loyal and dutiful, and I made a mental note to mark the calendar when I returned home, so I would know when it was time to come back and meet the family…